Will she or won’t she? This week, Hillary Clinton – albeit in the guarded terms that are de rigueur for anyone mulling a White House candidacy – gave perhaps her strongest hint yet that she will indeed run for the presidency in 2016. She was “thinking about it,” she vouchsafed to a conference in San Francisco, before adding in the next breath that she will not take a final decision “for a while”, probably not until the end of this year.
Whatever Ms Clinton’s precise state of mind, one thing, however, is clear. With every passing month, it becomes harder for her to say no. Polls show her trouncing every conceivable Democratic rival, to the point that some commentators wonder whether her party’s nomination will not simply be bestowed upon her by acclamation. In a general election, those same polls show her seeing off her any likely Republican opponent. A campaign team is already in waiting, a potent “Hillary 2016” fundraising operation is in place. The disappointment if she did not run would be huge.
That may yet be the case, of course. Although she seemed in robust good form during her “non-campaign” swing through the West, lingering questions persist about Ms Clinton’s health. If elected, she would at 69 be the oldest person ever to become president, with the single exception of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Meanwhile, Barack Obama’s travails have underscored the difficulty – some would say the futility – of governing when your opponents’ sole tactic is to block everything you do. If Ms Clinton were to run and win, she could well be facing a Congress where both Senate and House are in Republican hands.
Nonetheless, health permitting, America and the world would benefit if she ran. Nothing can prepare a person for the presidency, not even a CV that includes spells as First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State, as well as a presidential near-miss in 2008. But no one is better qualified for the job than Ms Clinton, even so. For the most powerful person in the world to be a woman would be a fine and novel thing; more importantly, for America to have strong, effective leadership would be a relief.