Let’s return to yesteryear. Richard Nixon, coming off an already bitterly controversial career and countless tangles with the media, had just been beaten in the 1962 campaign to become California governor. He was severely resentful, and snarled at reporters, “You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.”
It became known as “the last press conference,” and “kick around” ranks right up there as one of the most famous quotes in politics, particularly since just six years later, Nixon was elected president of the United States.
Fifty-seven years later, the never-say-die Nixon inspiration apparently hasn’t been lost on Hillary Clinton. Let’s make it clear: Nixon is not her shining role model. In fact, she began her career in Washington as a 27-year-old lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee during its Watergate investigation. That was aimed at impeaching President Nixon, who resigned before he could be removed.
It was not the last time Hillary Clinton would be intertwined with the process. She lost against the man who now faces impeachment himself, Donald Trump. Or more accurately, she blew the 2016 election against Trump, a man who should never have won and would never have won except he had the good fortune to be running against a terrible candidate.
Now that terrible candidate is making noises like she’d give it another go, telling the BBC that “many, many, many people” were encouraging her to run again. That’s three “manys,” if you’re keeping count. If she gets to five, she’s a candidate again, in spite of the fact that she’s a two-time loser. Barack Obama beat her in the Democratic primaries the first time around. “I, as I say,” she told that same interviewer, “never, never, never say never.” That’s four “nevers.” Four nevers mean, in politics-speak, “Candidates never really go away.”
It’s all because no one among the 20-plus declared Democratic candidates has really set the world on fire. That is a real temptation for those people with any name recognition whatsoever to say: “Sure, why not! I’m not doing anything anyway.”
Michael Bloomberg, who already has name recognition (he bought it), has stuck his toe into the water. Deval Patrick now says he is taking the plunge. Now here comes Hillary and her “many, many, many people.” The question is, Will they be drowned out by the many more Democrats screaming “nooo.” When it comes to name recognition, she’s had it for decades, and still she hasn’t taken the top prize.
But what is it we’ve been told ad nauseum about the U.S. of A., that anyone can grow up to be president? I would assume includes someone who has been a two-time loser. Actually, what with the economic caste system in this country and the great bulk of Americans mired in financial quicksand, it’s probably a myth that anyone, no matter how worthy, can really escape anymore and reach for the grand prize, even though, as Andy Warhol said, everyone will have 15 minutes of fame.
Obviously, Hillary wants more fame, and why not? Donald Trump just has to say something stupid or hateful, and he gets attention nonstop. So she can take inspiration from Trump, or Richard Nixon, and go for it. Somebody needs to, although there are probably “many, many, many people” out there saying, “Couldn’t it be someone else?”
Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.