Recently, a group of political observers suggested that the best path for Sen. Hillary Clinton would be to drop out of the Democratic presidential race and return to the Senate where she would have a bright future.
There was reference to Sen. Edward Kennedy as the liberal lion of the Senate, and several analysts opined that Hillary Clinton had the background and the clout to become a comparable lioness. Working with the likes of Kennedy and fellow Democrats, it was pointed out, would allow Clinton another four years to prepare for a second presidential bid.
That all changed drastically the past weekend when Kennedy was hospitalized after seizures brought on by an inoperable and cancerous brain tumor. While he will get the best of treatment and has the will to defeat this cruel enemy, his prospects for a substantially longer life and more years in the Senate are not considered good even by friends and optimists.
With Kennedy likely to have less prominence in Washington because of his medical condition, what are the prospects that a potential new "lioness," who once was rated a fine counterpart to Kennedy, can generate even more power and leadership for the Democrats?
There is every evidence that despite her dogged campaign pursuit, Hillary Clinton soon will be knocked out of the presidential contest by Sen. Barack Obama. Clinton already has loaned her campaign millions of dollars, and momentum seems clearly in Obama's favor with only a few primary elections left.
Continued battling by Sen. Clinton could create even greater - potentially damaging - splits in the Democratic Party. Should she keep on waging what shapes up as a losing battle or reassess her situation and see what she can accomplish as a senator, especially now that Sen. Kennedy is likely to be a far less prominent leader?
This is not to declare that Kennedy is doomed. There is always a chance for a physical comeback, but after 45 years of dedicated service to the Senate, even a temporary absence by Kennedy would leave a significant void.
With Clinton's prospects for helping to fill that void, now might be the ideal time for her to bow out gracefully from the presidential campaign and take up the liberal lioness role. Even critics admit that Hillary Clinton has been an excellent U.S. senator and that she has a great chance to do even more as a representative of New York state.
Sen. Kennedy's illness, Sen. Obama's apparent victory and Sen. Clinton's ability to serve even more and better as a Democratic leader is an interesting equation for the Clinton camp to ponder.