Leonard Zwelling

         Whether she runs for President or not, Hillary Clinton is
surely the most significant female politician of the past 50, if not 100 years.
But, she has had a bad week.

third week of the new year may go down as the week the 2016 Presidential election
began because the seeds of the undoing of both party’s current frontrunners may
have been sown. Chris Christie has to escape the shadow of the George
Washington Bridge lane closure scandal and his potential Democratic rival has
now been tarred with the blame for Benghazi in a Senate report.

         I don’t know a lot of Mr. Christie (and there’s a LOT of Mr.
Christie). I was just getting to seriously assess him and if this goes badly,
he may slip into political oblivion along with Ross Perot, Howard Dean and
Kinky Friedman.

         That is not a fate that can befall Mrs. Clinton. She is
already way more than a footnote in American history. She was an early leader
in the women’s movement, even as a college student. She married the smartest
guy in the room who then became the second smartest person in the room whenever
she was there. She was a distinguished First Lady who bit off way more than she
could chew when she tried to remake health care in the early 1990’s with 1000
of her closest friends, none of whom worked on Capitol Hill. That failed.

bounced back from that defeat to become a US Senator with a stellar reputation
for hard work and the willingness to learn how to become an effective
legislator. Most importantly, she gained the respect and trust of her fellow
senators, a pretty unforgiving bunch, simply by outworking everyone. She paid
her dues and that after already having been First Lady.

she was no more going to sit in the Senate than her future boss and rival for
office Barack Obama would. She ran for the White House and nearly made it. She
then became a popular Secretary of State serving her past presidential opponent
and serving him well. Then came Benghazi and her anger at a Senate hearing
while dismissing the importance of what had transpired even as what had
transpired was very unclear.

question is whether Hill has one more bounce in her. Can she once again
overcome the odds and anger and political venom that she will undoubtedly incur
once she announces her run for 2016 or will she say “I am almost 70, I have had
enough? Let another woman make history”.

hope she runs and he runs, because if Hillary Rodham Clinton ran against Chris Christie
we would have one of the most stimulating and erudite national debates since
1960 when two American political traditions collided in national televised
debates for the first time. That collision wasn’t so much Nixon against Kennedy
as it was the Republican establishment representing traditional WASP-America
and the street brawling Irish Catholic immigrants who would not be denied. (See
Joseph Kennedy and the Chicago vote count).

take on Hillary is colored by my own political experience on much smaller
stages. I, like Hillary, have made monumental errors of judgment that have cost
me. But they were my best teachers and allowed me to survive Washington,
Smithville, the transition of presidents at MD Anderson and an exit to a job I
truly love. I believe that Hillary learns like me—face first. I have always
believed in her that way and I still do.

let’s hope that Mr. Christie can get out from behind the traffic congested dirty
tricks of his underlings and settle back to running the great state of New
Jersey. He needs to refocus on how to get by the opposition from the Far Right
GOP and the Farther Right Tea Party that he will face in the Iowa caucuses, and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

also hope that Mrs. Clinton can summon the resilience and fortitude for which
she is so uniquely famous and find the strength for one more campaign.

once more before I die, I would like to see two larger-than-life intellectual
giants slug it out over policy and personality and give the American people a
real choice for president.

1960, neither Nixon’s previous dirty tricks to become a California senator nor
Kennedy’s philandering were issues because no one knew, or if they did, they
weren’t talking. Now staffs can’t shut up. I fear that one grant of immunity
will undo Christie and one more exhausting day or even a grandchild might
sideline Mrs. Clinton. I hope not.

deserve a heavy weight fight for a change. If we had that, the American people
and the American government would surely have a worthy leader regardless of
which one of them won, for whatever you say about either of them, they have
behaved like adults at times of adversity and are capable of admitting to
errors and learning from them. You cannot ask for more in a leader or from any other
human. But you can’t ask less either.

Leonard Zwelling