Thursday, April 03, 2008

Out of Hillary's Way!

Political biographer and flenser Sally Bedell Smith claims to understand Hillary Clinton's relentless, preternatural resilience in the face of certain defeat. I had nothing on the Presidential campaigns until today's Financial Times column Clinton cannot let go of her dream.

This one seems to be insight instead of bluster. The editor chose the call-out Her private sense that she is entitled to the idea has expanded to the idea that the public owes it to her.

Smith has already written books on the Kennedy and Clinton versions of the White House. She comes equipped with vignettes to illustrate her judgments of Hillary. For example, she quotes Bill Clinton as typifying his wife's determination with, "I might as well try to lift that desk up and throw it through he window as to change her mind."

The column illustrated the bases for and effects of Hillary's drive, and her self-delusion, from childhood. It is a voyeuristic delight. She writes of the Clintons as ever building on political wins, following the only loss in Bill's unsuccessful 1980 gubernatorial race. "The duo have spent their adult lives perfecting the permanent campaign, mastering its dark arts even as they went about the everyday business of governing."

Short of establishing themselves in an American hereditary monarchy, the ultimate aim now is for Hillary "to fulfil her destiny" and Bill "to burnish his legacy and purify Clintonism."

Unfortunately for them, Hillary's staggering in this campaign reflects far more than that she has never had stiff opposition before. As Smith puts it, "The demands of an unexpectedly tight campaign have brought out the worst in both of (the Clintons), dragging their popularity ratings to a new low."

Smith adds that Hillary is driven also to show that she can be as good a politician as that man she lives with. However, "...months on the hustings have shown she lacks his legendary political talents."

Had she the same asthenic level of opposition she had for the Senate, she might have coasted. Unfortunately for her, Barack Obama is much stronger, "a man whose political gifts, ironically enough, are often compared with those of William Jefferson Clinton."

We Americans have long believed more than most of the world in the power of wishing and willing. Sometimes such ambition and expectation does wonders, but not all that often.

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