President Barack Obama’s toxicity in the midterm elections explains in part the lack of credible challengers to Hillary Clinton, argues CNN’s Gloria Borger.
Borger notes that Democrats do not have a deep bench of 2016 challengers not only because the Clinton behomoth is “just too big–too well funded, too well supported, too historic.”
“It’s the phenom of Barack Obama, too — and the very strong counterforces he’s generated around the country,” she writes. “The gains at the presidential level have not been cost-free: The country is polarized, the Democrats are often on defense and they’re losing ground. One result: a thin presidential bench, which is painfully evident.”
Democrats have been walloped during the midterm elections while Obama has been president. In 2010, fueled by the Tea Party and opposition to Obamacare, Republicans took back the House with historic gains. In 2014, fueled largely by opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty for illegal immigrants, Republicans won back control of the Senate and Congress.
She notes that, “as has been the case with other presidents, for Obama party-building has not been on top of the agenda,” but Democrats have seen massive losses even in statehouses. Borger points out that there has been a “sharp structural decline of elected Democrats everywhere below the presidential level.”
“And so when Hillary Clinton runs into some trouble, the Democrats ought to worry,” she notes. “The Republicans have a deep and varied field; the Democrats have one real horse in the race no matter how much she stumbles out of the gate.”
Perhaps hoping for a role in Clinton’s cabinet and signaling they may not be in it to win it, potential Clinton challengers like Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb did not strike while the knife was hot this week, refusing to criticize Clinton over her use of private emails when asked about the controversy. O’Malley, after saying at a Brookings event on Wednesday that he had not seen Clinton’s press conference, only offered that it would be important for his potential Secretary of State to use a government email account in an Thursday morning MSNBC interview.
Borger notes that former Obama adviser and campaign manager David Plouffe dubbed Democrats who “run to the hills every time there ‘s a bump in the road” as “bed-wetters.” Unfortunately for the “bed-wetters,” Clinton’s inevitably has forced them to defend Clinton’s use of private emails while Secretary of State and shady donations from repressive Middle Eastern regimes to her family’s foundation.
“Bottom line, there is no organized pushback and there is no Plan B,” Borger concludes. “So ‘bed-wetters,’ beware. The truth is simple: Your job is to defend Hillary Clinton, not to bury her. Yes, it can be hard. Even annoying. But think about it this way: If you don’t, her problems become your own.”