Why Hillary Clinton remains inevitable

The Democrats likely have little alternative to Hillary Clinton for president.
The Democrats likely have little alternative to Hillary Clinton for president. AP

Unless she’s indicted, Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination.

That kind of sentence is rarely written about a major presidential candidate. But I don’t see a realistic third alternative (except for one long-shot, below).

Clinton is now hostage to the various investigations – the FBI, Congress, the courts – of her emails. The issue has already damaged her seriously by highlighting once again her congenital inability to speak truthfully. When the scandal broke in March, she said unequivocally that she “did not email any classified material to anyone.” That’s now been shown to be unequivocally false.

The fallback – every Clinton defense has a fallback – is that she did not mishandle any material “marked” classified. But that’s absurd. Who could even have been in a position to mark classified something she composed and sent on her own private email system?

Moreover, what’s prohibited is mishandling classified information. Any information learned from confidential conversations with foreign leaders is automatically classified. Reuters has already found 17 emails sent by Clinton containing such “born classified” information. And the State Department has already identified 188 emails on her server that contain classified information.

The parallel scandal looming over Clinton is possible corruption involving contributions to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state. Remember, she erased 32,000 emails she deemed not “work-related.” Clinton needs to be asked a straightforward question: “In sorting your private from public emails, were those related to the Clinton Foundation considered work-related or were they considered private and thus deleted?”

We are unlikely to get a straight answer. So Clinton marches on regardless. Who is to stop her?

Yes, Bernie Sanders has risen impressively. But it is inconceivable that he would be nominated. For one thing, he’d be the oldest president by far.

And there is the matter of Sanders being a self-proclaimed socialist in a country more allergic to socialism than any in the Western world. Which is why the party is turning its lonely eyes to joltin' Joe Biden.

Biden is riding a wave of deserved sympathy. But that melts quickly when a campaign starts. For him to win, one has to assume that Sanders disappears and Biden automatically inherits Sanders’ constituency.

That’s a fantasy. In a recent Iowa poll, Biden’s support comes roughly equally from Clinton and Sanders. Rather than inheriting the anti-Clintonite constituency, he could be splitting it.

There is one long-shot possibility that might upend Clinton: Biden pledges to serve one term only and chooses Elizabeth Warren as his running mate, offering the Democratic base – and the Sanders constituency – the vision of a 12-year liberal ascendancy.

I doubt a Biden-Warren ticket will happen, but it remains the only threat to Clinton outside of some Justice Department prosecutor showing the same zeal in going after Hillary Clinton as the administration did in going after David Petraeus.

Otherwise the Democrats remain lashed to Clinton. Their only hope is that the Republicans self-destruct in intraparty warfare. Something for which they are showing an impressive talent.