More than two years remain until the next presidential election in the US, but we all know that this is hardly a deterrent to early and endless election campaigns, even in the absence of official nominations. The media are hungry for sensations, and they are digging for them even where they do not exist.
She is hardly an emerging new politician as our monthly topic stipulates, but Hillary Clinton sure is emerging. Again. And naturally, she cannot hide from all the questions about her plans for candidacy. She was being asked the same questions two years ago while she was Secretary of State. Now the hysteria has increased even more. In her latest book Hard Choices, she focuses on the time when she was part of the government, and now the book has triggered this hysteria about her possible candidacy, speculations floating all around about her entry into the battle for presidency.
Her supporters insist that she should take a decision soon, some are even organising donation campaigns for her already. Because they have no doubt that she would run, and eventually become America's first female president - something which other developed (and curiously, even some not as developed) countries already consider completely normal.
But so far this has been a campaign for president without candidates. Many names are being speculatively tossed into the fray, and while everyone is waiting for Mrs Clinton to make up her mind, no other Democrat ventures into making serious hints about running. Which has caused some criticism that she is blocking the whole process. But in a recent ABC News interview she just said all other candidates are completely free to do as they please. She said she would only take a decision "when she feels she is ready". At least she promised that this won't be later than the end of the year.
But few in her party believe Clinton would withdraw. The polls indicate that 69% of the Democrats and their base want her to run at the primaries.
Of course, the timing of her book is perfectly chosen. It is a way to get some initial feeling of the moods of the voters. Even the Republicans admit that Clinton would be a formidable opponent. The GOP is already scrambling to preemptively tarnish her image, using the well established and long trained dirty tactics that we have seen during election campaigns, looking for scandalous facts from her past, thinking of new talking points to fling at her like monkey poop. The RNC has said there are many unknown things about Clinton, and "everything possible should be done to make people know that she has another side, and that this book is not just about the hard decisions but about the bad ones as well".
The former First Lady is of course enormously popular. The time spent outside active politics has worked in her favour, since she has remained away from all the political bickering. Although her ratings have dropped a little since she left the government last year. But make no mistake, her critics are biding their time, and are even more determined than six years ago, because now her chances to win are looking stronger than ever. Some of the attacks against her, especially those about her health and the question whether she hadn't suffered brain damage after a concussion in 2012, will only be getting worse.
In truth, the Stop Hillary PAC says, she is part of the "liberal Clinton machine". So you've got three words that instill fear and hatred in the hearts of conservative voters: Liberal + Clinton + Machine. You know, the "lamestream media machine", "liberal propaganda machine", etc. The Republicans will go to tremendous lengths to demonstrate how Hillary is a continuation of the dreaded destroyer of the nation, Barack Obama, a continuation of his hated liberal policies that are dismantling freedom and the American way both at home and abroad.
Meanwhile, in the eyes of her supporters, she may have a lot of reasons to run: from the fact that she could become the first female president of the US, to the chance of implementing her own vision of America's global leadership. But the ugly attacks will also influence her decision. When you ask a Democratic supporter whether they want her to run, they would likely say yes. But as human beings who care for her, some would probably have second thoughts. She has not announced her candicacy yet, and we already are seeing the attacks on her. And those will only be getting worse with time. Sure, she is a very thick-skinned, tough lady. But how much of all that could one possibly bear?
For now the former First Lady continues with her "soft" campaign, speaking at modest gatherings across the country, giving interviews about her book, and stubbornly avoiding questions about her candidacy. But she will certainly be getting ever more visible at the national scene as the primaries approach. The challenge for her is to maintain all the suspense until the moment when she finally decides to announce her decision.