I hate to dump dirt on your campfire, Hillary fans, but I wouldn't order tickets just yet for the next inaugural. I don't think your girl is going to make it.

Although the former first lady, former U.S. senator from New York and former secretary of state is already being touted as practically a sure thing for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, I don't think it's going to happen.

It's not that she's unqualified. She's plenty qualified, at least in comparison to the vast majority of people who aspire to be president and, for that matter, the present president. By most accounts, she mended quite a few fences for us as secretary of state. A careful review of her public record confirms Hillary Clinton is indeed presidential.

And it's certainly long past time that a woman wins the White House - no doubt about that. There have been 43 men who have held the office (yes, I know Obama is the 44th president, but since Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, there have been 43 total), and they have succeeded in messing things up just fine.

There's no way to prove it, but I strongly suspect that if women had been in charge even part of that time, there's a better than even chance we would have had far fewer wars, native Americans wouldn't have been practically exterminated, discrimination would have ended long ago, our schools would be better, our health care would be affordable, our air and water would be cleaner and the vast majority of Americans would be making sustainable wages.

But, unfortunately for Hillary, her time may have come and gone.

We heard about the "inevitability" of Hillary in 2006 and 2007 but by early 2008, Barack Obama showed she wasn't so inevitable after all. Just like 2008, she is already peaking too soon. If she looks at history, as she undoubtedly has, she knows that many a front-runner has crashed and burned.

For example, in early 1973, pundits, in handicapping who Richard Nixon's most likely successor would be, envisioned a spirited race for the 1976 Republican nomination among Vice President Spiro Agnew, California Gov. Ronald Reagan and New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, with Agnew the likely winner. No one knew that, within months, Agnew would be disgraced and out of office and in less than two years, Gerald Ford would be president.

At the same time, no one had even heard of Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter then. Chappaquiddick notwithstanding, Ted Kennedy and a sentimental return to Camelot was the hope of many Democrats.

Four years earlier, in the run-up to 1972, those self-appointed observers of the political scene didn't see how it was possible that Sen. Ed Muskie, who admirers fawned over as being downright Lincolnesque, could be denied the Democratic nomination. But Muskie got all broken up and shed a few tears in New Hampshire, underperformed in the primary there, and that was it for him.

After Reagan's landslide re-election of 1984, Mario Cuomo was seen as the Democrats' savior for 1988. The Cuomo chatter went on for two or three years, but the New York governor never officially entered the race. Gary Hart assumed the mantle of front-runner, but in mid-1987, allegations about marital infidelity doomed his chances. Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis came from practically nowhere to win the nomination.

Back in 1859, William Seward was practically writing his inaugural address. Seward was the unrivaled leader of the new Republican Party and no one saw how he could be denied the party's nomination. Seward and his cronies, as well as other potential rivals in the GOP, viewed Abraham Lincoln as just a country bumpkin.

As late as December 1918, people were saying that former President Theodore Roosevelt would be the 1920 Republican nominee - no questions asked. Unfortunately, TR died unexpectedly in early 1919, and, to everyone's eventual surprise, Warren G. Harding was the next president.

There is a word, newly coined, for what ails Hillary: "Grant-itis." Former President Ulysses S. Grant left office in 1877 after two terms, but with presidential ambitions still unquenched. His whirlwind world tour and triumphant return home kept him in the spotlight for years, but by the time of the 1880 Republican convention, the public ardor for Grant cooled, and his supporters couldn't quite put him over the top.

Hillary may be atop everyone's poll right now, but it's likely that by 2016, folks will have grown tired of her and look for a fresh face.

Who might that be? Vice President Joe Biden has been around the block too many times. The two other Democrats who have been most frequently "mentioned" (translate that to mean they want it so much they probably have their Cabinets selected) are New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. It may be just because Hillary is dominating the headlines right now, but there appears to be very little enthusiasm for either.

My prediction: A new political rock star: Either Elizabeth Warren, the widely popular new U.S. senator from Massachusetts, or Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who will be a U.S. senator from New Jersey by then.

No matter how hard they're working, Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are wasting their time plotting for 2016, and Chris Christie has already ticked off too many people who actually vote in Republican presidential primaries. My take: Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio for the 2016 Republican nomination. They both have sufficiently conservative credentials, and if Republicans come to their senses, they will realize they can only win if they become more competitive with Hispanic voters.

Or maybe (drum roll, please) - Massaschusetts Gov. Deval Patrick versus Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

(Betz is an assistant editor of The News-Item.)