Among Democrats who hope Hillary Clinton doesn’t run—and their number is larger than one might think—the complaints are familiar. Age and stamina are the obvious considerations. “Look at Obama’s hair color, just like George Bush’s,” says a prominent Washington insider. “Somebody who’s seventy shouldn’t be president. And I think that’s going to be an interesting issue against her, but who in the Democratic Party is going to have the guts to take on that machine?” A former Clinton campaign adviser is equally blunt. “This is gonna sound superficial”—which is an understatement—“but men do age better than women,” he says. “At seventy she’s not gonna be—it’s not gonna be great.”
Hillary Clinton may end up deciding she wants to spend the 935 days until election 2016 making corporate speeches and spoiling her grandchild. Recent events have exposed weaknesses in Clinton’s supposedly impregnable armor, gaps through which a Democratic or Republican challenger could damage, perhaps even defeat her. The bad headlines to which she has been subjected are enough to make anyone—anyone who isn’t a Clinton—think twice about running for president.