Friday, November 28, 2008

The Next Hillary Clinton?

Michelle Obama is 44. Hillary Clinton was 45 when Bill Clinton became President. Both are lawyers. Both were the moneymakers in the family. She's involved in her husband's policy decisions, like Hillary Clinton and unlike, say, Laura Bush. She's intelligent, well-educated, and a strong personality, all of which were true of Hillary Clinton. She's young enough that a potential political career will see many Presidential elections, giving her a number of openings. Hillary was married to "the first black President." Michelle Obama is married to the first black President.

If it's occurred to me, I'm sure it's occurred to them. If that's something she's interested in, look for her to take a role in policy initiatives. It won't be too prominent, but it'll be less fluffy than what Hillary Clinton did, if only because Clinton got dinged for overstating her weak resume as First Lady in the primaries. Potentially, she could spend eight years in the White House rounding out her resume as a liaison, executive, and diplomat. Look for her presence on blue ribbon commissions, humanitarian efforts, and Supreme Court justice nomination teams.

Then she could run for Barack Obama's former Senate seat in Illinois in 2016. His now-resigned term expires in 2010, so the next term would be up for election then. That would be most effective if he gets elected to a second term.

What would be best for her would be a successful 2 terms by her husband, followed by either 2 terms by a Republican or 1 Democratic term and 1 Republican term. In the former case, she wouldn't have to fight the uphill battle against an incumbent. The latter case would be harder. A worse scenario would be having to follow a 2-term Democratic President. Worst of all would be a Democratic President being elected in 2020, as she could not run at all then in 2024. 2028 would still be an option, even 2032, but by then she'd be 68.

If for some reason, Obama loses in 2012, it will harm her prospects, but not fatally. Dick Durbin, the other Senator from Illinois, is up for re-election in 2014, when he'll be 70. Maybe he won't want to run for a fourth term, giving her an opening.

She should aim for 8 years in the Senate like Hillary Clinton; her husband's 4 years before becoming President are a bizarre aberration. That would serve her up to run for President herself in 2024, at the age of 60. 4 or 8 years as an active First Lady followed by 8 or 10 more years as Senator would be more qualification than Barack Obama. If she plays her cards right, and learns from Hillary Clinton's mistakes, she would be a formidable candidate.

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