There’s a new career path emerging in journalism. It’s a lucrative and easy subset of the field; don’t be surprised if universities—particularly NYU—start offering special courses in the subject. What is this new side-job that many journalists have adopted? They’ve become Hillary 2016 rumor-peddlers.
It’s far more tenuous even than speculating on the color of the smoke that will emerge from the Sistine Chapel, because the subject of these rumors is so ubiquitous. Instead of disappearing from the public eye into a well-deserved hermitage like Cinccinatus, Hillary Clinton has been everywhere since she stepped down from her job as secretary of state. Just this week she stumped for Terry McAullife in Virginia, confronted hecklers at a talk in New York, and spoke to the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.
Her every word sends journalists scrambling to divine and interpret hints about what the former first lady is planning for 2016. One writer at Time has compiled a list of themes Clinton seems to be elucidating in her latest public appearances, including “selfless ambition” and her status as a “Washington Outsider.” Oh boy.
Clinton, for her part, is offering vagaries. It’s as if she prepares for every interview by brainstorming new ways to obfuscate her presidential ambition. Obviously it’s too early for her to announce, but she knows that people want hints. Recall her statement in an interview with New York Magazine: “I’ll do whatever I can from whatever position I find myself in to advocate for the values and the policies I think are right for the country. I will just continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence me making a decision one way or the other.” And last week she was a bit less vague. Asked by Scotland’s The Herald about running, Clinton said, “I’m minded to do it.”
Clintonworld, that swirling cloud of cronies and campaign crusaders jockeying for prominence and Clintonian attention, seems to be adding members to its ranks every day. It’s not just the journalists that are obsessed with Hillary’s potential run—politicos and businessmen are rushing to declare their support as early as possible. Rahm Emanuel gave a preemptive endorsement this week, while George Soros has joined forces with the Ready for Hillary PAC. Elton John gave her an award on Tuesday for her work combatting AIDS, or something.
With all this allegiance and anticipation building behind her, what does maybe-campaigning Hillary look like? In her speeches, she decries political extremism and “scorched-earth” tactics. She scorns those who “operate in what I call the ‘evidence-free zone,’ with ideology trumping everything else”—such as herself in 1996, when she allegedly told Dennis Hastert that Hillarycare had to happen because “We just can’t trust the American people to make those type of choices…Government has to make those choices for people.” And she seems to be channeling Ronald Reagan; compare "We are careening from crisis to crisis—instead of having a plan, bringing people to that plan, focusing on common sense solutions and being relentless in driving toward them,” to "I will not stand by and watch this great country destroying itself under mediocre leadership that drifts from one crisis to the next, eroding our national will and purpose."
Her poll numbers are dropping, but so are everybody’s. And there’s plenty of time yet before she’ll have to say something concrete about what she wants to do, meaning that it’s safe to expect lots of innuendo from Mrs. Clinton in the future. In the meantime, just hope that the press doesn’t mind taking its tea vague.