Will Hillary Clinton run for president in 2016? She’s given no indication that she will — in fact, she’s said very clearly that she won’t — but that isn’t stopping rampant speculation. (No wonder, as we’re all sick to death of talking about Mitt Romney’s dog and Rick Santorum’s vajihad.)
Political journalist and Game Change coauthor John Heilemann last week predicted there’s a 99.4 percent chance she’ll run. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd argued that Clinton is just the tough broad we need to lead the resistance against the “war on women.” Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch personally encouraged Clinton to get into the race during last week’s state dinner at the White House. Democratic strategist and Clinton family friend James Carville suggested that she might not be able to resist the urge to run.
Clinton announced a year ago that she wouldn’t stay on for a second term as secretary of state if Obama wins reelection, and she reiterated that point in January. Perhaps she wants to spend more time with her family. Then again, her family members are awfully busy themselves.
Clinton will turn 69 just before Election Day in 2016, but she’d still be younger than Ronald Reagan was when he took office — and I’d put big money on septuagenarian Hillary besting a septuagenarian Gipper (or a 40-something Marco Rubio, for that matter) in a battle of wits.
So, what might green-minded voters make of a Hillary run?
Clinton understands the threat of climate change and the importance of building a clean energy economy, as she made clear during her 2008 run for president, and she had a solid green record in the Senate. Then again, ditto for Obama, and see how much good that’s done us?
As secretary of state, Clinton’s biggest green failing, many enviros would argue, has been her inclination to rubber-stamp the Keystone XL pipeline. And she, as part of the larger Obama administration, has failed to make notable progress toward an ambitious global climate agreement — though she can hardly take full blame for widespread global intransigence on this issue.
But while international negotiations are treading water (or slowly drowning), she has led the State Department forward on other climate initiatives.
Last month, Clinton launched an international effort to tackle “short-lived climate pollutants“: black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and methane, which together account for about a third of current global warming. As she explained:
[C]limate change is one of the most serious and complex problems facing our world. We know its impacts. It impacts global security, the global economy, global food and water supplies, and the health and well-being of people everywhere. And we know that in the principal effort necessary to reduce the effects of carbon dioxide, the world has not yet done enough. So when we discover effective and affordable ways to reduce global warming — not just a little, but by a lot — it is a call to action.
In 2010, she unveiled the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, working to get rid of the open fires and dirty stoves that as many as 3 billion people in the developing world still rely on. “I know that maybe this sounds hard to believe, but by upgrading these stoves, millions of lives could be saved and improved,” she said in announcing the initiative. “This could be as transformative as bed nets or even vaccines.” And it would curb climate pollution too. “Whether you’re passionate about health or the environment or sustainable development or women’s empowerment, this is a project for you,” she said.
Speaking of women’s empowerment, Clinton has always been a fierce defender of her sex against right-wing loonies and other clueless men. She reminded the world of this a little more than a week ago at the Women in the World Summit:
Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies. Yes, it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world. And it seems clear to me that to do that, we have to live our own values and we have to defend our own values.
Whatever her other failings, Clinton won’t stand idly by while men try to take away women’s reproductive health care and hard-won rights. Santorums of the world, consider yourselves warned.