Former president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend SeriousFun Children's Network event honoring Liz Robbins with celebrity...
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Quitting is not in the Clintons’ game plan


Let me finish tonight with this huge day for Hillary Clinton.

You truly can’t predict politics. Sure, you can know certain patterns. There are rules in the world of politics. (I wrote about them in my first book Hardball back in 1988.)

When someone breaks one of those rules, you can almost hear an old-timer saying, “it just goes to show…” and then out comes one of the ancient truths of how to deal effectively with people if you want to get ahead and stay there.

Then there are the “unpredictables,” the game-changers, the events and people who pop onto the screen–or squirm free from expectations–and change the course of mighty rivers.

I’m thinking of FDR who came back from polio and Harry Truman who came back from the political dead in 1948. I’m thinking of Ronald Reagan who got beaten twice for the presidential nomination then came back to pick up all the pieces, or Barack Obama, who came out of nowhere to win two terms in the White House.

The success of the Clintons is, dare I say the obvious–impossible to predict.

Bill got beaten for Congress in his first race, then got elected Arkansas governor at an implausibly young age, then got booted from office, then came back and won multiple terms. He got to give the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, ended up delivering a “bomb,”then came back with his saxophone to make himself a star on the the Arsenio Hall Show.

Hardball with Chris Matthews, 6/10/14, 8:05 PM ET

Matthews: ‘Quitting’ isn’t in Clintons’ game plan

Chris Matthews shares why he thinks the Clintons’ success is impossible to predict, further proving that there are two kinds of success: initial and ultimate.
The next time around he got himself elected president, only to lose control of the Congress two years later. He got impeached in 1998, only to end his term with high job approval. He left the presidency in the shadow of the Marc Rich pardon, ended up a hugely popular figure in the country.

Hillary’s trajectory is almost as unpredictable. She survived the impeachment mess by maintaining her dignity, showed her guts by running for and winning the U.S. Senate seat from New York, ran for president as the front-runner but fell short in the delegate race, came back to serve the country as secretary of state, and is clearly positioned to run for president again.

No one can say what the future holds in politics. The one sure bet is that the Clintons will carry on to the finish line. They ran as “two for the price of one,” then stopped saying that. Does anyone believe they’ve stopped thinking that?

The Clintons are living proof of Winston Churchill’s argument that there are two kinds of success: initial and ultimate. In that second category, I’d put my marbles on Bill and Hillary Clinton.

If you haven’t noticed, quitting isn’t in their game plan.

Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton

Quitting is not in the Clintons' game plan