Liberal Panic: Maybe Hillary Isn’t as Inevitable as We Thought

(Matt Agudo/

Several weeks ago, the boy geniuses at VOX DOT COM were convinced that the Democratic coalition was "more united than ever." Executive editor and presidential historian Matt Yglesias wrote that Hillary Clinton "seems inevitable because Democrats are united."

How inevitable? This inevitable:

It is impossible to mount a coherent anti-Clinton campaign because there is no issue that divides the mass of Democrats. If she were to unexpectedly decline to run, some other figure (perhaps Joe Biden, perhaps Martin O'Malley) would step into the void and lead the party on a similar policy agenda.

Yglesias’s boss Ezra Klein seemed to agree—until now. On Tuesday, Klein explained that Hillary was "not inevitable." Because, as it turns out, the Democratic coalition is far from united on the issue of foreign policy, and judging from her recent interview with the Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg, Hillary appears to have insufficiently altered her views on controversial issues such as American exceptionalism, Iranian nukes, and radical jihad.

Clinton’s weakness as a Democratic candidate, Klein argues, stems from the following factors:

[S]he is more hawkish than the post-Iraq Democratic Party. She is upset that she lost the internal administration debate over whether to intervene in Syria. She's focused on the expansive ambitions of radical jihadists. She takes a hard line on Iran's nuclear ambitions. She's frustrated that Obama thinks more about the dangers of action than the dangers of inaction. She's dismissive of Obama's shorthand foreign policy principle "don't do stupid stuff". She  wants the country that defeated fascism and communism to develop a grand — and more interventionist — strategy to guide its leadership of the world.

Got that? Clinton is a liberal apostate because she believes a bunch of genocidal maniacs attempting to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East is, generally speaking, a matter of concern. And as Klein points out: "There are a lot of liberals out there who would prefer a nuclear Iran to a war with Iran," and these liberals are (justifiably) convinced that Obama is lying through his teeth when he says the United States won't tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. Clinton's belief that America is, generally speaking, a force for good in the world, and that bad actors tend to flourish in the absence of American leadership, is, presumably, a nonstarter for these pro-Iranian-nuke liberals as well.

Klein isn’t the only liberal reassessing his assumptions about Hillary’s inevitability. The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber argued that Clinton’s "provocative" Atlantic interview was "the first blunder of her 2016 campaign." Given that liberals are less than enthusiastic about Clinton's rhetoric on income inequality, Scheiber suggests, she could be increasingly vulnerable to a Democratic primary challenger such as Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden. also was not impressed. The once-relevant left-wing group said Hillary "should think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks that got America into Iraq in the first place and helped set the stage for Iraq’s troubles today."

Nor was long-time Obama adviser David Axelrod thrilled about Clinton's foreign policy criticism. He took a shot at Clinton on Twitter over her support for the second Iraq war (Axelrod's guy entered a third one last week):

Mee-yow! Scheiber and others were surprised that Team Obama would react so strongly, and wondered if some Obama donors might start to have second thoughts about supporting Clinton in 2016. All told, it’s probably a healthy sign that liberals are finally starting to realize that Hillary’s coronation is far from inevitable, and seem to be acknowledging, at least implicitly, that the Democratic coalition might be less united than advertised.

On the other hand, suppose Hillary does not relent, and refuses to toe the liberal line on foreign policy. Good luck explaining your grievances to the squealing masses of low-information voters lining up to support the "historic" candidacy of the First Female President. Realistically, there's not a damn thing you can do about it, is there, liberals? What difference, at this point, does it make?

Hillary Clinton