Here's a scenario that I think may become more realistic as the year unfolds. Should Obama and the Dems continue to slide, and especially if the Dems take a bloodbath in November, I look for Hillary to resign the Secretary of State's job sometime in early 2011. Nobody will believe she wants to "spend more time with her family" so she'll have to come up with another excuse. In reality, she'll be setting the table for a primary challenge to Obama in 2012.After seeing "Uncommitted" win 42% of the vote against Obama in Kentucky, unknown John Wolfe get 42% against Obama in Arkansas, and a federal prison inmate get 41% against him in West Virginia (all states that Bill Clinton won), there's little doubt to me that Hillary could have knocked Obama off in the primaries. Democrat voters would have been willing to admit to a mistake in 2008 and rectify it in 2012. For reasons I can't image, Hillary didn't go for it (despite the urgings of her husband, if the new Obama biography is to be believed).
And she'll be very popular. She barely lost the nomination in 2008 and given Obama's performance and her work as Secretary of State, her star probably shines brighter today than ever. For one thing, she hasn't been in the news all that much and we haven't had to listen to her. That's gotta help.
So, with Hillary out of the Secretary of State's office, who will Obama choose to replace her? Here's where the scenario becomes even more interesting - Joe Biden. Biden's many years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be cited as the main reason to move him to SoS, though the real reason will have more to do with the fact that Biden will be a drag on the 2012 ticket. He's not seen as a viable future candidate for 2016 and frankly people are a little bit afraid that something will happen to Obama and we'll get stuck with President Biden.
This will give Obama and his political crew the opportunity to choose his potential successor, someone younger and more attractive as a 2016 candidate. Confirmation could be a bit problematic should the GOP pick up a bunch of Senate seats this year, but I don't know if they will have the stomach to filibuster a vice presidential nominee.
Meanwhile Hillary will be the Ted Kennedy of 2012, challenging the sitting president the way Kennedy challenged Carter in 1980 - only she'll win. The nomination, that is, but not necessarily the White House. That will depend on both the GOP nominee and voter feelings about Democrats in general. After four years of unbridled liberalism the voters may not be willing to take a chance that Hillary will be any better. Her history certainly suggests she just as much a lefty as Obama, though possibly more competent.
Now there's a lot of talk about replacing Biden with Hillary. I have a hard time believing that will happen. Does she really want to be second banana to a guy who is as likely to lose as win this year? Will voters suddenly overlook all of Obama's flaws and incompetence just because Hillary is the VP candidate? I don't think so. Hillary is no spring chicken and the years haven't been that kind to her. If she's got an eye on being president, I don't think 2016 will be her year. I think her year was 2012 and she passed on it.