Meet the ‘Hillary’ t-shirt

Meet the ‘Hillary’ t-shirt

How many credible candidates for president over the past 40 years are so well known to the public that they can get away with putting out merch that features their face instead of their name? This is the blessing and curse for the GOP in 2016 if she’s the nominee: She’s been so famous for so long and for so many reasons that the election could become a de facto referendum on Hillary. That’s great if it turns out that the public has Clinton fatigue, not so great if they don’t. She’s popular at the moment that it makes perfect sense to try to capitalize on it this way. Hillary the icon, Hillary the inevitable, the first woman president waiting in the wings until the public’s “ready.” The more larger-than-life they can make her, the more she potentially controls her own electoral fate, which may come in handy as a way to distance herself from the White House if O’s second term continues heading into the crapper.

And yet … the shirt’s goofy, isn’t it? Hillary may be an icon but she’s never had the cult-forming personal charisma that Obama used against her five years ago. She may be smart and capable and well-credentialed, yadda yadda, but she’s never going to be able to pull off the cover of “Rolling Stone” the way The One could. As it is, this is like having a t-shirt with Nixon’s face on it: Even smart, capable, well-credentialed establishment dorks are still establishment dorks. But let me not speak too soon; it may be that both left and right are so tired of Obama come 2016 that the only way one of his former cabinet members can build a campaign is to try to build their own beyond-politics cult of personality. Dork or not, there’s a strategy here.

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