Hillary in 2008
There is all sorts of mindless chatter going around that basically insists that Hillary is damaged goods and unsuitable as the Democratic candidate for president in 2008. It really is mostly mindless chatter, driven either by the supporters of other candidates or simply to get attention. My feeling is that she will weather all of the chatter just fine and eventually will be chosen as the Democratic nominee. Whether she actually gets elected will depend on the whim of the American voters.
The key factor in her favor is also the key argument being used against her: she has been around the block in Washington, D.C. She knows how the system works and knows how to work the system. Lately, she has been a very effective senator for the people of New York. Sure, she failed with her health care proposal back in the 1990's, but she did learn a lot from it, and it demonstrates a sense of vision and willingness to reach for that vision that none of the other candidates have even remotely demonstrated.
Quite a number of old-time liberal Democrats chafe at the notion of centrism and long for some good old-fashioned liberal ideas and want a fresh face, not somebody who has been there and done that and is unwilling to tilt at windmills that they can never defeat. Edwards and Obama appeal to these people, but these people can hardly claim that they worry even the slightest about "electibility" beyond who they personally would like to see as leading the charge for the Democrats.
My call is that 2008 will be a battle between Hillary and McCain. All the other contenders (with the possible exception of "Rudy") are a bunch of lightweights who will garner a lot of attention, but otherwise at best be stars that burn too brightly but burn out too quickly as well.
All of the criticisms of Hillary will actually result in her becoming a stronger candidate. People really underestimate her, by a country mile.
She was criticized for suggesting that President Bush should "extricate our country from this before he leaves office", but what percentage of American voters (myself included) don't subscribe to precisely those sentiments? If the "surge" doesn't work over the next year, don't you expect that we have no sane choice but to withdraw? Give the Bush plan a year to work and then a year to withdraw. That's actually overly generous of Hillary. For those who criticize this view that she expressed in Iowa, what options do you think U.S. forces will have at their disposal in January 2009 (when Persident Bush leaves office) other than to pack up and leave?
Here's the relevant quote from The New York Times article by Patrick Healy entitled "Clinton Calls on Bush to Extricate U.S. From Iraq":
I think its the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it this was his decision to go to war, he went with an ill-conceived plan, an incompetently executed strategy, and we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office.
She is basically simply stating the obvious sentiment shared by a lot of people: President Bush created this mess, so he is responsible for fixing what he broke.
In theory, the focus of the Iowa campaign visit was to try to put a human face on Hillary's reputation for hard-nosed politics. The critics complained that she doesn't have a soft enough human touch, so she goes to Iowa and does that and the critics turn around and say she isn't being serious enough. Really, the bottom line is that the critics do not like the fact that she is a pragmatic Centrist.