ARLINGTON, VA - FEBRUARY 14: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks after being presented the Department of Defense's highest award for...
Win McNamee

High pressure on Hillary Clinton as 2016 nears


Let me finish tonight with Hillary Clinton, and the momentous decision she will make–and that only she can make–whether or not to run for president.

Normally, it’s a decision that a candidate makes with the counsel of their family and their trusted advisers and in their own spirit and conscience. But for Hillary, the terrible truth is that her agency, her ability to make this most grave decision, is being handed around to all of those whose hopes are pinned firmly to her and her alone.

That especially includes women, particularly Democratic women, who watched the presidency slip from their collective hands in 2008, as Barack Obama out-sprinted Hillary toward breaking that other glass ceiling: to give America its first black president. A recent Gallup poll finds that 18% of Americans said Hillary being the first woman president would be the best thing about her gaining the office–twice the number who said ‘her experience.’ That number was 22% for women, 27% for 18-to-29 year-olds, and 30% for Democrats.

And last month, when Hillary gave a speech at the close of the Clinton Global Initiative’s conference at Arizona State, a young woman student, took to the microphone and pointedly asked Hillary, “Mrs. Clinton, if you don’t represent women in politics in America as future president, who will?”

And that’s the problem: Democrats don’t have a plan B for “who will.”

As much as we all love Joe Biden, the red lights flashing in front of him by the pols in Washington couldn’t be brighter, and with even the possibility of Hillary on the table, no other Democrat is out there auditioning for the job. There’s no Democratic equivalent to Rand Paul or Chris Christie or Jeb Bush or even American/Canadian Ted Cruz. And there’s no Barack Obama, riding a singular moment like his 2004 convention speech into even the possibility of a run.

So for better or for worse, it’s all on Hillary. All of it. The dreams of women, the plans of Democrats–and that doesn’t leave much room for her to make this most crucial decision all by and for herself.

Would she be willing to walk away, and take the silent blame if Democrats somehow fail to keep the White House in 2016? Could she walk away, and keep her legacy intact?

We shouldn’t have to ask. She should be free to just be “Grandma” if that’s what she wants.

But then, she wouldn’t be Hillary Clinton.

Hardball with Chris Matthews, 4/18/14, 8:09 PM ET

Reid on the pressure behind ‘Hillary 2016’

Hardball guest host Joy Reid examines the pressure behind Hillary Clinton’s decision of whether or not to run for president.

Hillary Clinton

High pressure on Hillary Clinton as 2016 nears