That Clinton-Obama "marriage of convenience" was blessed by pretty much everyone
Noam Scheiber makes a good point in this piece discussing the odd nature of the nascent Clinton campaign and its relationship to the Obama administration:
As for the president, as annoying as it must be to have the most popular Democrat in the country distance herself from his foreign-policy B-sides, the broader arrangement still beats any plausible alternative. Consider: If not for the way Hillary’s proto-campaign has frozen the Democratic presidential field, there would already be half-a-dozen Democratic governors and senators trooping through Iowa, complaining to anyone who will listen that Obama still hasn’t closed Guantanamo, arrested any Wall Street bankers, or brought the NSA to heel. “Put aside that she may or may not share all his positions,” says the Obama campaign adviser. “The fact that no one is doing that is a great thing for him.”
As long as Hillary’s 2016 plans continue to bring such benefits, the White House will happily ignore a book that would have the whiff of betrayal under any other circumstances. Like all great marriages of convenience, this one is built to withstand a little emotional distress.
His point is that the administration benefits from a Clinton presidency to protect a legacy it will, to all intents and purposes, share. So it's not too exercised by the small degree of distance she is putting between herself and the administration in order to create her own rationale for running. As long as she's freezing out criticism from the left --- which she is --- his legacy is in no danger from this campaign.
I've come to think of this in a slightly different way. I think this was decided back in Denver in 2008. The primary campaign was a near tie with Clinton continuing to win races all the way up to the end. (In any previous presidential campaign there would have definitely been a convention challenge to such a tight outcome.) It featured two important "firsts" with an African American and a woman competing for the same prize. It was very emotional. The political arguments among the two camps were fierce but they were both coming from the same center-left policywing of the party, which means there was an agreement, somewhat by default, that this agenda was the preferred agenda of the voters. Both sides fought tooth and nail for the same policies.
In essence, the result of that 2008 near tie vote was that Obama got to go first with the understanding that Clinton would automatically get the nomination 8 years later. What this means is that (barring unforeseen circumstances)there will have been no left wing challenge in presidential races for 16 years and I think that suits the Party and its rich donors just fine. They hate primaries. And since they will have had 16 uninterrupted years of preferred policy, even as the voters get to feel the inspiration of the two historic firsts, why would anyone rock the boat?
Progressives might have been able to leverage that fierce competition in 2008 but they got caught up in the emotion just like everyone else so there wasn't any real ideological challenge. Unfortunately, it probably ended up being the last primary in which they could have had a voice for a very long time. Too bad.