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In an election with so much at stake, is she really the best the Democrats have? And can she get elected?

Clinton for president? 

OK, the presidential election is still almost 19 months away, and it's early to be worried. But Hillary Clinton wasn't my choice for president in 2008, and - although I may change my mind - I'm not enthusiastic about her now.

Problem is, of course, there's nobody else.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, former Rhode Island Senator and former Governor Lincoln Chafee, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are said to be thinking about running, but they're really long shots. Barring a massive Clinton screw-up during the campaign, lesser-name candidates will likely drop out after a few primaries, and Clinton will coast to the nomination.

For many of us, it won't be hard to choose between Clinton and any of the Republicans. Some, like Ted Cruz, would be disasters as president, but they'll be disasters as candidates, too, so there's little need to worry. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are a different matter. Either, I think, would give Clinton a tough race.

And any of the Republican candidates would set the country on a course that will be hard to turn back from. There's not a moderate among them.

Climate change, gun control, health care, education, abortion rights, gay rights, labor rights, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, income inequality, campaign finance, foreign policy, Supreme Court nominations, our response to terrorism: what's at stake in the 2016 election is huge.

So why not Clinton?

Certainly she has many strengths. I don't think liberals will have to worry about her on most domestic issues. And she could be an eloquent advocate on income inequality, shaming any Republican she runs against.

But she's much more of a hawk than I like. I worry that she'll pull back from some of the critically important progress Obama has made in foreign policy. And given her hawkish nature, Republicans' harsh militarism could push her farther to the right.

I also worry that she can't get elected.

Maybe that's not a concern. Presumably she'll have lots of money. She has plenty of name recognition and already has a big base of supporters, particularly among African-Americans and women.

In New York magazine earlier this month, Jason Zengerle discussed the factors that traditionally influence election outcomes, and he noted two that are in Clinton's favor: the economy is improving, and Obama's approval ratings, while not great, are decent.

But another factor is whether voters think it's time for a change. Clinton is not only in the same party as Obama, but she served in his administration. In addition to average voters who hope that "change" equals "better," there are the passionate Obama haters. And they'll have no problem redirecting their ire and turning it onto Clinton.

Just as important, though, may be a problem that hurt Clinton in 2008: She just doesn't seem "natural." She's an introvert, Zengerle writes, but that trait comes off as being haughty and entitled. And I think she's often defensive in a way that creates the suspicion that she's hiding something. Republicans have already shown that they'll try to fan that fire.

Zengerle quotes GOP consultant Rick Wilson as calling Clinton "a schemer and a planner and a plodder." "You need people like that in politics," Wilson said, "but most of the time they end up as campaign strategists, not candidates."

And then Zengerle quotes Pat Buchanan: "She reminds me of Nixon." And in some of her news conferences, actually... yes. She does.

Clinton's personality, then, may help a Republican pull not only his party's base but also a lot of independents and conservative Democrats. Over the next 18-plus months, Clinton will have to lay out a vision that turns out her base and inspires the majority of other voters. If Republicans are crazy enough to nominate someone like Ted Cruz, Democrats and many independents and moderate Republicans will probably race to the polls out of sheer fear. But if it's Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio?

It's early days. But Clinton's run has me more worried than excited.

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