Hillary Clinton appears to be attempting to short-circuit any challenge from her political left by using rhetoric and official statements to make certain they know she thinks as they do on issues such as climate change, immigration, Cuba, civil rights, and even Elizabeth Warren’s favorite, wealth distribution.
According to The Washington Post, “One Democratic strategist said the moves are ‘more prophylactic than anything. If she didn’t say anything, the media and the liberal groups that care about this stuff’ would criticize her or nurse a grudge.”
As far as any potential challenge from the left should Mrs. Clinton opt to run in 2016, as most believe she will, former Senator Jim Webb (Va.), Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have all been mentioned as possible candidates. For her part, Warren has said she is not running. Some still believe, however, that she has not ruled out a future decision to run.
Some of the most liberal rhetoric anyone has heard from Hillary Clinton in years came recently at a New York award ceremony named for Robert F. Kennedy:
Clinton said she is proud to have been part of an administration that ended extrajudicial transfers and abusive treatment of terrorism detainees. The practices were the subject of an exhaustive Senate report this month that concluded that the CIA had engaged in torture and that the methods were ineffective in gaining useful intelligence.
The well-dressed crowd in a Manhattan hotel ballroom on Dec. 16 applauded loudly at that statement and thrilled to her broader theme of righting social wrongs.
“What would Robert Kennedy say about the fact that still, today, more than 16 million children live in poverty in the richest nation on Earth?” Clinton asked.
“What would he say about the fact that such a large portion of economic gains have gone to such a small portion of our population,” she continued, also asking about the persistent wealth gap among blacks and Hispanics and the unequal treatment of black men in the criminal justice system.
“What would Robert Kennedy say to the thousands of Americans marching in our streets demanding justice for all? To the young people with their eyes open and their hands up?”
The remarks were more in keeping with Clinton’s early career as a lawyer and human rights champion than her later work as a politically moderate senator and failed presidential candidate or as a diplomat. They also appear designed to address a populist hunger among many Democrats for a candidate attuned to economic inequality and the concerns of working people, including many who would prefer a run by Warren.