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An Unquestioned Assumption

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by David GreenbergNow that Hillary Clinton has dispensed with Jonathan Tasini in the New York Democratic Senate primary--proving, among other things, that Joe Lieberman's loss last month doesn't mean that the Democrats are collectively racing leftward on national security issues--we're bound to hear more about her purported presidential ambitions. But has she ever expressed an intention, or even a strong interest, in seeking the office in 2008? I don't think so. Those who spend more time on Google than I can contradict me if there's evidence to the contrary.

In David Remnick's New Yorker piece this week about Bill Clinton (sorry, no link; it's not online), there's an important tidbit from the former president:

"I literally have no idea yet whether my wife will want to run for President. That's the first thing. And I know nobody believes that, but I do not believe she has made that decision. And I believe if she had firmly decided to do that, I would know."

Hillary is not a candidate for president in 2008, and news reports shouldn't assume she's running.

Some people will suggest that to doubt that Hillary's intention to run in 2008 is to deny reality. The line of questioning goes like this:

Q: Why else would she have amassed such a war chest?
A: To lock up her reelection to the Senate.
Q: But she has no competition to speak of.
A: See, it's working.

Also, being feared as a presidential front-runner gives her power--as a senator and as a public figure generally.

In 2004, Tim Noah noted in Slate that most people insisting that Hillary was going to run then were actually conservatives, either misled by their stereotype of her as insatiably ambitious or hoping to goad Democrats into nominating a flawed candidate. Today, those who expect Hillary to run in 2008 range the political spectrum. But no more evidence exists today to justify their expectation than existed in 2004.

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