There’s an event held every year in Washington known as the Saban Forum — named for Haim Saban, the Israeli-American media mogul who funds it. It’s a night of elbow-rubbing between D.C. and Middle East political leadership, though foreign dignitaries are mostly Israeli.
At this year’s forum, held last week, Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker. But before she did, the audience was treated to an eight-minute video.
It was a sort of glossy, high-end highlights reel of her public life — as first lady, senator, and secretary of state — studded with interviews from international bigwigs like current and former Israeli prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sen. John Kerry. They praised her work, joked about her distinctive laugh, and made cryptic comments about good things in her future.
David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, was in the audience. That video and her speech was enough to convince him that Clinton is going to run for president in 2016.
“The combination of the film, the way she gave her speech — which was extremely uncritical of the Israelis, even at a moment when the Israeli-America relationship is, I would say, very troubled — gave one the indication that she is being hyper-careful and looking forward to a career that still has politics in it,” Remnick told Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. “And where else is there to go other than a presidential race?”
At the end of the video, Tony Blair delivers a line that Remnick says everyone in the audience was expecting.
“I just have an instinct that, with Hillary, the best is yet to come,” Blair says as the music swells.
It’s vague, granted, and Remnick says this kind of political prognostication right after an election is a bit of a stretch — after all, there’s a lot that can happen between now and 2016. But he says he’d be surprised if Clinton didn’t run in 2016. And, he says the video sure seemed like a push from some in the international community for Clinton to throw her hat in the ring and go for the White House.
At the very least, it gave the international politicians a chance to hedge their bets and say nice things about someone they think could be president.
“I think there’s not a single person who appeared in that film who hasn’t read Machiavelli,” he says.
But even though the video looked like a campaign ad, Remnick says the hypothetical Hillary ‘16 campaign probably won’t be re-running the video as a campaign ad four years from now.
“I’m not sure how many votes in Iowa you get from the endorsement of Salam Fayyad or Bibi Netanyahu,” he said.