Spieckerman Speaks

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Most Formidable '16 Democratic Presidential Candidate Isn't Even on the Radar

Question.  Who's the one '16 Democratic Presidential candidate who would not only solve President Obama's problem of having to make a choice between Hillary and Biden – but also clear the Dem field?
Hint #1 – The national figure with the 70%+ approval rating
Hint #2 – The enforcer of ideological purity; the keeper of the flame
Hint #3 – One of, if not the, most effective and charismatic speakers on the national scene
Hint #4 – Organizing For Action (OFA)…continuation of the mighty Obama election machine…to “push for the President’s agenda.”  Seriously?  As any politically-savvy person knows, that machine was only designed for one purpose:  to elect a President.  It has not been, and never will be, a force for enacting legislation.
Hint #5 – “Don’t Cry for Me”
This beloved national leader mentored Barack Obama.  Her brother said that her family always believed that SHE would run for President someday. 

Lightning in a bottle amidst a reed-thin ’16 Dem Presidential bench.
She is just as smart as Hillary (certainly in her and her husband’s minds) but doesn’t carry the baggage of having presided over a failed health plan that didn't pass - yet led to a Dem midterm shellacking anyway.
The alternatives? 
Hillary:  despite her thirst for the nation's highest office, she might be unable or unwilling to pursue it.  And, who knows, Hillary might even end up being held accountable for the egregious Benghazi security incompetence and cynical cover-up.  How helpful that would be for Team Obama.  Let's see how vociferously the President defends his former Secretary of State in the wake of the Benghazi hearings.
Biden:  he may have been best captured in a quote ascribed to Roger Ailes:  Joe is a man for whom people have a soft-spot, but he’s dumb as an ashtray. 
And, given the Dems' demographics and direction, both Hillary and Joe will, by 2016, be even more "yesterday."
Andrew Cuomo:  revered name, big state, prodigious funding, yet…a NYC brogue inexplicably even more pronounced than his Dad's – while he pales in gravitas and appeal. Andrew's idea of eloquence is shouting his speeches.  Politics for the hard-of-hearing.
MARTIN O'MALLEY??? A walking SNL skit.  Not just an empty suit – a suit bereft of a lining.
Hickenlooper? Tim Pawlenty without the charisma.
The only other Dem even close to having a Presidential mien – not to mention that almost unheard-of Dem candidate trait, a track record of business success – is California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.  But his personal scandals may be an obstacle, even in the Dem primaries.  And, while Newsom was in the forefront in support of same-sex marriage, he might be too rational to successfully run the Dem Presidential gauntlet.
Some might say that the First Lady lacks sufficient experience.  First, she has more private sector experience than her husband (including, ironically, much more first-hand knowledge of the health care arena).  Secondly – and conveniently – Barack Obama set the resume bar so low that his wife can now easily traverse it.
This is a personality cult Presidency in the post-Kardashian era.  And Michelle is no Kim Kardashian.
Obama will have a perpetually "transformative but still unfinished agenda."  The legions of Obama acolytes don’t want to see the Obama reign end.
Barack’s and Michelle’s Rasputin, Valerie Jarrett, probably doesn't want the ride to end in '17, either. 
Valerie Jarrett, the Chicago slumlord millionaire.  FDR's Harry Hopkins without the brain; Nixon's Bob Haldeman in a skirt.  VJ has unusually intimate access to the first family and holds inordinate sway with every top White House and political advisor.  She not only whispers into the Obamas’ ears, she can see to it that the others in the inner circle provide concordant counsel.
Michelle’s appeal to women, minority voters and young people – the fulcrum of Barack Obama’s wins in ’08 and ’12 – would match, and perhaps among women, even exceed – that of her husband.  She, of course, would completely neutralize one of Hillary’s greatest political assets:  her potential to be the “historic” first woman President. 
Michelle, always above the fray, would also be relatively untainted by continued economic lethargy and DC stalemate - barring an ’08-scale economic collapse.
And in ’16, Michelle’s nest will be half-empty, with Malia in college – and Sasha will only be two years away from leaving home.
So, the question is, if Michelle decides to seek the ’16 Dem nomination, exactly who stands in her way?
I tested my theory with two of the top "mainstream media" DC correspondents.  For the first, it was so far outside of the realm of possibility that it took all of the above “hints” for him to even come up with Michelle.  Tellingly, he, and the other media luminary, really had no specific rebuttals to the above points. 
Both dismissed Michelle’s candidacy for one reason:  “She doesn’t have the drive to make a run.” 
Do they know this woman?  Have they been paying attention?
By the way, guess who would be President Michelle Obama's first appointment to a vacant SCOTUS seat.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
I’m not by any means saying Michelle definitely will seek to succeed her husband.  But the fact the First Lady has become ubiquitous – including her surprise appearance at the Oscars – certainly comports with this construct.
Watch for more calculated insinuation of Michelle into American pop culture…and more of Michelle deftly wading into issues beyond teen obesity.  Let's see if Barack appoints Michelle to a more substantive task force-like position (if I were President Obama, I'd deploy Michelle to work with governors to rescue Obamacare). 
In the unfortunate event that Illinois Sen. Kirk's health declines, forcing him to leave office, will Michelle seek the seat?
By many accounts, in ’07, Barack Obama was gunning for the VP nomination; Hillary was seemingly invincible.  The goal was to acquit himself well, prove he could run a tough race, eliminate all other candidates from serious VP consideration.  Of course, the Clintons would have reveled in selecting the first African American Vice President.
Then, Obama won Iowa.  Suddenly, it was…OMG, we can actually win this!
I submit that Michelle’s now latent Presidential campaign is where Barack’s was in early ’07.  All of the pieces are in place, the campaign machine currently christened “OFA” continues to hum.  There’s a lot of powder being kept dry and Michelle’s star power is being exploited as never before.
Keep your eyes on the First Lady.


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