Hillary Clinton isn’t likely ever to become president of the United States. In fact, there is a greater possibility than is generally recognized by the Washington cognoscenti that she won’t even run. If she does, though, the barriers she faces will prove overwhelming. Her 2008 campaign was her last good shot for the office, and she failed. Since then, numerous developments have conspired steadily to diminish her prospects. Those prospects are now near zero.
This analytical framework holds absolutely no credulity in Washington, where thinking rarely extends beyond the conventional. The conventional wisdom, of course, is that Mrs. Clinton’s nomination is nearly inevitable and her subsequent election highly likely. It’s true that she is smart, tested, universally known, a whiz at fundraising and generally respected. The long-ago scandals that got her labeled by one prominent columnist as a “congenital liar” have long since receded into the netherworld of the national consciousness. On paper, she looks nearly unbeatable.
Presidential elections don’t take place on paper, though. They take place in the real world, where politics is always about the future. Mrs. Clinton is a product of the past.