Yes, it’s too early to talk about the 2016 presidential race.
Yes, it’s foolish to describe Hillary Clinton as already the unstoppable Democratic nominee.
And yes, it’s just this side of hallucinatory to claim that even if it’s not Hillary, the Democratic Party is unified to elect a female president.
But oh, how I’m lovin’ this conversation.
I’ve waited my entire adult life for this moment, when so many male reporters and pundits are trying to figure out not whether a woman but which woman will be elected president of the United States.
New Republic’s Noam Scheiber has generated the biggest buzz in political pundit land this week with his cover story, which laid out how Clinton could lose her party’s nomination to another woman.
My favorite paragraph:
“Which brings us to the probable face of the insurgency. In addition to being strongly identified with the party’s populist wing, any candidate who challenged Clinton would need several key assets. The candidate would almost certainly have to be a woman, given Democrats’ desire to make history again.
“She would have to amass huge piles of money with relatively little effort.
“Above all, she would have to awaken in Democratic voters an almost evangelical passion. As it happens, there is precisely such a person. Her name is Elizabeth Warren.”
The candidate would almost certainly have to be a woman.
Now, Sen. Warren has said repeatedly she is not running for president. “No, no, no, no,” she told The Boston Globe. When the reporter asked whether she really meant it – what wife hasn’t had that conversation? – she added a fifth “no.” She also, earlier this year, joined every female member of the Senate Democratic caucus in signing a secret-until-it-wasn’t letter urging Clinton to run.
I will take this remarkable woman at her word, but I just love the rampant speculation tagging not one but two women as contenders for president.
Harold Meyerson wrote this week for The Washington Post that “the surest way [Clinton] can alienate significant segments of her party – perhaps to the point of enabling a progressive populist such as ... Warren ... to enter the race – is to surround herself with the same economic crew that led her husband to untether Wall Street and that persuaded Obama, at least in his first term, to go easy on the banks.”
Chris Cillizza, also for the Post, wrote: “As Clinton learned in 2008, a candidate that appeals to voters’ hearts can beat a candidate that appeals to their heads. And Clinton, for all of her built-in advantages in a 2016 race, will be hard pressed to ever be the heart candidate of the party base.
“Elizabeth Warren would be that candidate the minute she signals her interest in running. That fact should scare Clinton and her political team.”
I have no idea what he means with that “heart” thing, but neither does he, so it’s all good.
I could give you 10 more quotations from 10 other male pundits speculating on the Hillary vs. Elizabeth scenario. Maybe that’s because, even in 2013, there are still a lot more men than women paid to give their opinions. I’m sure news organizations have been meaning to fix that. For decades.
I should mention that a few male commentators have been less equivocal about Hillary’s chances. At least one, I mean.
“I think she’d be very tough to beat now,” George Clooney told NBC News. “And you know, all of the things that people thought of her as polarizing in 2008 don’t exist at all [anymore].”
I realize he is neither a pundit nor a reporter, but please, he’s George Clooney. And he talked to NBC Entertainment “exclusively.”
Speaking of NBC, its news operation’s poll this week shows Clinton beating New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by 10 points in a hypothetical presidential race. That means absolutely nothing this early, but William Whalen is all over this one.
In a column for The Wall Street Journal, Whalen offered battle tips to the GOP for the upcoming “ ‘war on women’ trope.” It won’t be easy defeating Clinton, he wrote, in part because of the “guilt-ridden reporters [who] want to even the score after ditching her for Barack Obama in 2008.”
And this: “Personal insults from the GOP will prompt the media to add victimhood to her saintly profile.”
Because nothing screams “presidential” like a woman scorned, you understand.
• Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine. She is the author of two books, including “...and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate.