The most popular former president since the Second World War is John Kennedy. The most popular living former president is Bill Clinton. The most popular public figure in America is Pope Francis, whose favorable rating was a towering 78 percent in a recent Pew poll.
These three data points reveal the qualities most Americans want in their next president. Along with demographic and electoral state advantages Democrats posses in presidential elections, they explain why Hillary Clinton will enter the 2016 campaign in a powerful position -- and with the possibility of winning a mandate victory that would dramatically change the way Washington works.
In just 20 months, as Clinton concludes her conversation with America that she will soon begin, Americans will gather in their living rooms to discuss who they should choose to lead the nation. They will not be discussing emails and servers. They will be discussing wages and incomes, prosperity and jobs, and who is most qualified to lift the American economy and protect American security.
If Clinton is elected in 2016, around the time of the Democratic National Convention in 2020, our first female president will lead a national celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote on Aug. 18, 1920.
At lunchtime on Thursday, I addressed the Women's National Democratic Club in Washington, D.C. The title of my remarks were "Superwoman comes to the supermarket: America from John Kennedy to Hillary Clinton." It's borrowed from the brilliant essay by Norman Mailer about John Kennedy in 1960 titled "Superman comes to the supermarket," which was later included in The Presidential Papers, his book about JFK. Mailer's vision of Kennedy -- which came true -- was that JFK would lead America into a new decade that would unleash powerful forces of change and lift the politics, culture and spirit of the nation.
When I refer to Clinton as superwoman who comes to the supermarket, I mean that her conversation with America will take this woman of enormous achievement into the supermarket of the American heartland for a national discussion about how we can create an economy that brings higher wages, higher incomes, a higher standard of living and a rising tide that lifts all boats and leaves no American behind.
The Bill Clinton presidency, which embodied Democratic economics, is fondly remembered because he created a surge of prosperity, optimism and jobs, and a belief that government can work -- even as Republicans tried to impeach him while he doggedly continued his good works in office.
By contrast, the last Republican presidency, which embodied Republican economics, sank America into the most punishing recession and devastating financial crash since the Great Depression, which brought the most massive bailout in human history.
In her conversation with America, Hillary Clinton will build on the launching pad of her legacy. And Republicans will disown the bottomless pit of theirs.
The Kennedy presidency, which embodied the ideals of Democratic progressivism, set loose forces for change that energized movements and advanced rights and opportunities for blacks and Hispanics. This expanded to the movements that advanced equality and justice for women and gays. And it expands to the ultimate movement, whose great champion is Francis, for an economy that is fair and just and creates prosperity and opportunity for all, regardless of race, color, gender, ethnicity or creed.
This will be the heart of Hillary Clinton's conversation with America: equal wages for women, a higher minimum wage for workers, a higher standard of living for all, a better education for students who want to learn and affordable education for the moms and dads who must pay for it.
Republicans cannot compete with these American dreams with arcane discussions of emails and political wars to persuade voters that the teachings of the most popular pope in modern times are wrong when he denounces the trickle-down economics that guaranteed the last great Republican economic crash.
Watch out for my follow-up, "How Hillary can win big," in Thursday's edition of The Hill.
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