The Hillary 2016 Virus

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There’s surely a limit to what a couple of viral photos can tell you about political realities. But it does feel like a lot of people — not least pro-Obama Democrats — find Hillary Clinton more likable and appealing than ever. And it’s worth pausing a moment to consider how far the woman has come. Remember the end of her 2008 presidential campaign? Clinton was denounced from within the Democratic Party as a liar and a sociopath, while her husband was branded as a crypto-racist. She was even accused (perniciously, I thought) of wishing that an assassin might take out Obama and hand her the nomination. That episode led Al Sharpton, among others, to warn of  “irreparable harm to her and her legacy.” These days, it’s rare to encounter a Democrat with an unkind word about Clinton. She’s pulled off the neat trick of being a loyal soldier to Obama while restoring her own poll numbers to record highs. And she’s won high marks for her performance as Secretary of State — perhaps in part because she has managed, whether through accident or design, not to get bogged down in some of the Obama Administration’s thorniest foreign policy challenges, including the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Iran nuclear showdown.

Will Clinton run in 2016? Who knows. Party insiders certainly don’t rule it out, though they tend to say it probably depends on whether Obama wins a second term. It’s easier for her if he doesn’t, especially because she won’t have to challenge a sitting Vice President. Although that certainly would be fun to watch.