Hillary in 2012?

Where in the world are the Clintons? The answer is as far away from Washington and President Obama as possible. The former president is winding down a successful trip to North Korea --  having secured a pardon for two U.S. journalists held there. However, both President Clinton and the Obama communications team have repeatedly made clear that this was a private humanitarian mission,not one where he represents the current president in any way.

Hillary Clinton has been dispatched on an 11 day trip to Africa, a region with severe humanitarian concerns that need to be addressed by the US, but not one that ranks in the top five of America's urgent foreign policy problems.

With both Clintons out of the country, news agencies dubbed Tuesday, August 4, "Obama Day." -- Okay, it was also his birthday, but I cannot help but think that the Clintons are unhappy about being pushed away from the center of power, especially since both Bill and Hillary anticipated that theywould be them residing in the White House in August of 2009 and not the Obamas.

History quiz: Who was the last sitting president seriously challenged in a primary?

Answer: Jimmy Carter taken on by Ted Kennedy in 1980.

Fast forward 32 years and the possibility of a redux is becoming more and more real with each percentage point President Obama's rating slides.  Unlikely? At this stage, yes, but definitely possible and made more so by the circumstances.

Who? The answer is obvious; the same person who carried 1,973 delegates and 23 states and territories in the 2008 democratic primaries, who currently possesses substantial campaign funds and who, while supposedly pledging not to run in any more campaigns, has kept a staff larger than some Senators up for reelection in 2010 -- the current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

The same person whose husband, the only two-term Democrat president since FDR, was so ambiguous in his support for Barack Obama during last year's presidential election it was spoofed on NBC's Saturday Night Live:

Actor playing Larry King: "President Clinton, do you endorse Barack Obama?"

Actor playing President Clinton: "Barack Obama is my party's candidate for presidency, and I am not a party wrecker...I love to party!!!"

The truth is that President Clinton was willing to say anything to avoid clearly supporting a man he had, and likely continues to, disdain. The former president Clinton thinks Obama stole from Hillary something she deserves: the presidency.

Hillary Clinton herself has openly criticized President Obama, specifically the vetting process and the president's ability to fill the departments associated with her position as Secretary of State, such as the Agency for International Development. She has also been a very invisible Secretary of State, making it easy for her to step away at some point to prepare her candidacy.

Conventional thinking suggests that if Hillary Clinton wants a shot at the presidency she will wait until 2016, but she is an unconventional individual and these are not conventional times. The combination of the pressures of her age, she will be 69 in 2016 (she was born October 26, 1947), and the window which is becoming more and more open as the current president struggles in his domestic and foreign policy agenda, may make a 2012 run impossible to turn down for this politician who so longed to be her party's nominee she cried about it before the New Hampshire primary.

Any chance of Hillary 2012 goes out the window if two out of three of the following happen 1. healthcare reform is successful; 2. the economic crisis is handled effectively; and/or 3. the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are resolved.  However, if the first six months of this presidency has taught us anything, it is to never overestimate the current administration, but to wait for the results. So far the results are stalled health care reform, a continuing economic crisis --notwithstanding the supposed "stimulus" bill -- and a significant upsurge in U.S. casualties in Afghanistan. The result is an approval rating for the president down in the low 50s on par with, that's right, Jimmy Carter's rating 32 years ago 6 months into his Presidency in late July 1977.

Ted Kennedy said in his 1980 DNC concession speech that "the dream shall never die," for Hillary Clinton the dream is to be president of the United States and that dream may be revived much sooner than expected.