In the last few days there has suddenly been a lot of talk about Hillary Clinton being the inevitable nominee. Look here, for example. This is really based on nothing more than a good debate performance this week, even though we're still months from the first primary. The CW seems to be that Edwards and Obama missed an opportunity to tear her to shreds in the debate, and so she's running away with the show now.
First of all, the civility of the Democratic debates should reflect well on all of the candidates. While there's disagreement between the 3 central campaigns, it's not bitter or personal at this point.
Second, Obama and Clinton are basically tied on fundraising and in the polls. Why is it not being said that he's the inevitable nominee? Do the press just not take his campaign seriously?
A lot of the "inevitable" talk about Hillary is coming from the Right, and I think that's understandable. There are plenty in the GOP who would love her to be the nominee, thinking that her divisiveness will work to their favour. I think the fact that she's somewhat divisive and a known quantity doesn't really work to the advantage of either side. She's not going to win over many conservative votes, and she's not going to lose much of the support she already has from the Left. We won't see a panicky drop-off in support, like we saw with Dean and which could happen with Obama or Edwards. Conservatives who think she would be easy pickings as the Democratic nominee are likely to be disappointed.
Now imagine the scenario that John Podhoretz thinks is inevitable: Rudy vs. Hillary. Like I said, Hillary is a known quanitity and all of her dirty laundry has probably been aired. People like her or hate her. Rudy has had his dirty laundry aired, but on a much smaller scale: the people of NYC know about his sordid past and personal life, but by and large Americans don't. They just think of him as the 9/11 guy. If he is the nominee, he is going to go under the microscope and it will be brutal. I don't think his nomination is inevitable in the way that many think Clinton's is, but I do think that if he does get the nomination, it will be nearly impossible for the GOP to win in 2008.