Wednesday, February 27, 2008

For Hillary, conspiracies everywhere

We've seen all sides of Senator Hillary Clinton over the last year--the side that is happy when winning, and the side that whines when losing. I was struck last night by her performance in the final Democratic debate--starting off so strong and then derailing herself by complaining that the moderators were being too hard on her. It was almost a microcosm of her entire campaign.

And if you missed it, here's the clip.


Not to mention her complaint against MSNBC making her "go first" twice in a row was as senseless as her complaints about Barack Obama being all style and no substance. Clinton wanted to prove she was a fighter, but there she was also battling the press. She batted the first question on health care around for most of the first 16 minutes making Obama look a little slow. She was doing fine. I thought to myself--this is a good tactic. Don't even let him talk. Run the ball, eat up the clock. And then she got a chance to answer the 2nd question first. And I honestly though--they're playing right into her hands.

And, rather than seizing it, and keeping Obama on the ropes, she complained about how unfair it was to go first twice in a row. Wha? Obama was obviously dying to talk and by not being able to go first he couldn't set the tone like she could. But she just had to get that odd jab in there, obviously written by some handler. Tina Fey? Saturday Night Live? Saturday Night Live hasn't been relevant for 15 years at least.

And it was passive aggressive complaint at that--that she found it curious she had to go first twice but was "happy to do so." What? No, you weren't happy, that's why you're complaining, right? The dark side of Hillary came out, seeing conspiracies everywhere. Is this the kind of president we want?

I was reminded of the George Packer article on Obama and Clinton from the New Yorker:

When I described to Greg Craig the Clinton campaign’s skepticism toward the idea of transcending partisanship, he said, “You’re getting to that five per cent of Hillary that I don’t like—which is to see in every corner a conspiracy or an opponent that must be crushed. Look at her comment ‘Now the fun part starts’ ”—Clinton’s announcement in Iowa that she would begin attacking Obama’s record. “There is a quality of playing the embattled, beleaguered victim that I find unappealing and depressing.” He added, “I want a President who is looking to move the country with positive inspirational ideas rather than to fight off the bad guys and proclaim victory by defeating the forces of reaction. I would like us to inspire the forces of reaction to join us in treating people better, and lifting more vulnerable people and people in jeopardy out of their vulnerability and jeopardy.”

I was so surprised that Hillary, knowing those are her weak points, would emphasize them in the debate. But she can't help herself. She has been spurned on prom night. She has been left at the alter. And now, conspiracies are everywhere.

Obama did not have a great debate. He let her filibuster on and on and he seemed to be subdued and tired. But he was dignified. Compared with his poise her blatherings seemed to border on the lunatic fringe. She may be brilliant, but that last 5% of her is so unlikeable it will cost her 100% of the nomination. You can see why 40% of Americans would never vote for her.
Even when she was the presumptive nominee there was a type of malaise about it among Democrats. It turns out we were just waiting for the right person to come along. And it's not her.

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