Waiting for Hillary – and worrying about her chances 

It's a long time until the 2016 presidential election, a friend reminds me. Doesn't matter; I can't stop tracking the news - about the Democrats as well as those zany Republicans.

And I'm getting really worried about Hillary Clinton. She is certainly qualified to be president. And while I don't embrace all of her positions, for liberals like me, she is clearly far better than any of the Republicans.

But Clinton looks very, very vulnerable against many of the Republicans - even Donald Trump. The Democratic elite may want her. She might make an excellent president. But I'm becoming convinced that she can't be elected.

I also worry that even if she were elected, she would have as tough a time getting things done as Barack Obama has. She wouldn't encounter the racism that he has, but plenty of Republicans in Congress simply despise her, and have for a very long time.

In recent national poll numbers from Real Clear Politics, Clinton was ahead of Donald Trump by only 2.4 points. She beat Jeb Bush by 3.2 and Ben Carson by 5. And she was ahead of Marco Rubio by only 1 point.

The national campaign hasn't formally started, of course, and a lot will change. Still, it's troubling that Clinton's margins are so slim and that her poll numbers are getting worse.

A Democrat absolutely must win the 2016 presidential election. Way too much is at stake, and the Republican candidates have marched together into fringe land.

Jeb Bush would have us heavily involved in fighting in Iraq again and lord knows where else (Iran, of course, being first on the list).

Scott Walker says the US should consider building a wall between us and Canada to keep out terrorists. Chris Christie wants to track foreign visitors the way Fed Ex tracks packages. Ben Carson, who is closing in on Donald Trump for the lead in Iowa caucus polls, told MSNBC that he is "thinking very seriously" about having a "covert" arm of government employ people to spy on co-workers so they'll work harder.

Marco Rubio opposes policies to limit greenhouse-gas emissions to combat climate change and opposes abortion, even to protect the life of the mother.

And then, of course, there's Donald Trump. We can laugh, and many people are. That's looking increasingly like a very bad idea. The Trump-Sanders phenomena seem real. Many voters are fed up with politics and politicians. They're hungry for someone they think will tell the truth - someone they can trust. And poll after poll says this is Hillary Clinton's biggest handicap. Many voters don't trust her and don't like her. Since she's not an unknown, I don't see how she can convince people that she's trustworthy. And I think that spells almost certain defeat.

Who's the alternative? Much as I agree with Bernie Sanders on many issues, he stands absolutely no chance of being elected. None. The only viable Democrat, I think, is Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden said late last week that he hadn't made up his mind, that his decision would depend on whether he and his family are emotionally ready for a campaign. Clinton would make his decision easier, I suspect, if her falling poll numbers and the Republicans' pummeling convinced her to pull out of the race. Then, a sense that his party and his country needed him might give Biden the strength he's not yet sure he has.

But Clinton being Clinton, there is little possibility that she'll quit. In fact, I'd bet that the worse things look for her, the harder she'll dig in her heels. And then, sadly, her negatives will feed on themselves.

I'm a pessimist at heart, and plenty of experienced political observers are insisting that Clinton will do fine, that she'll not only have an easy time of it in most of the primaries but that she's hands-down the favorite for the general election.

We can hope. And I do. But the optimists' optimism won't keep me from worrying.

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