By now you know the big presidential news of the week: Obama is jumping in the race (or “considering” jumping in the race by forming a presidential exploratory committee, but we all know what that means). The game is on. Hillary vs. Obama. It makes for great headlines and fascinating political entertainment for the rest of us.
The question everyone seems fixated on is how Obama jumping in will affect Hillary. My gut instinct is that Obama helps Hillary. He helps Hillary by taking away from the competition. Hillary will be in and regardless of what you may think of her, she’ll be a contender. But since Hillary is moving to the center (I’ll leave it to you to decide if it’s genuine or not) she’s bound to be challenged from the Left, particularly the anti-war Left. So who will be that challenger? As we saw in 2004, a 10 person primary race doesn’t last long. Odds are that the anti-Hillary crowd will realize their only chance to beat her is to rally around a single candidate.
John Edwards would love to be that candidate. The guy has practically camped out in Iowa ever since losing 2004. John Edwards could be a major contender for the Democratic nod. But Obama is sucking up all the Democratic air. The story is Hillary vs. Obama. Edwards isn’t even in the story. And if he’s not in the story he won’t win.
At this point Hillary’s folk have to be banking on the fact that Obama will fade. That he’s the flavor of the month. They think they can win Hillary vs. Obama, and I think they’re probably right. It’s hard to predict these things with certainty, but I think Obama will fade over time. Thus, Obama helps, not hinders Hillary’s presidential ambitions.