Saturday, November 03, 2007


First it was Bill. He just wanted a little lovin’ from some big-haired women. And what happens? His Willie becomes a national obsession.

We all know the culprits – that nameless, and oh-so-vast right wing conspiracy. I guess I was part of it, even though I’ve never voted for a Republican, oppose capital punishment and virtually all American wars, and believe in using governmental tools to redistribute wealth to the poor. Yeah, I’m pretty right wing.

Anyway, right wing or not, I must have been part of the “conspiracy,” because I was mad at Willie. I blamed him for selling out liberal causes with his ambition-inspired triangulation. I blamed him once again because despite having basically promised that if we elected him he’d behave himself, and despite having later been sued for sexual harassment, he chose to get hummers from a young intern. Silly me, but I considered that reckless, deplorable conduct.

Willie’s wild rides – or if you believe his testimony, his pattern of hitting triples, but refusing to head for home – were perhaps the single biggest factor that elected George W. Bush. Al Gore, apparently another member of the “vast right wing conspiracy,” was so disgusted with his boss that he decided to campaign without him, essentially giving up the advantages of incumbency. In the closest of elections, that was all W needed to win Florida.

And then what happened after the Supreme Court selected our new President? We conspirators expressed our outrage at Willie for pardoning a fugitive, who happened to have given him lots of money. We thought that was a blatant misuse of the pardon power. Clearly, we weren’t being rational. Perhaps it was our “obsession” with Willie that clouded our judgment.

Now, here we are, 6 1/2 years later, and you’d think we conspirators would have found a new obsession. But no. We’re still insane when it comes to the Clintons. Who can think about anything else? Of course, for the most part, we’ve been giving Willie a rest and turned our attention mostly to his wife, who affectionately goes by the name of “Hill.”

Hill is a sharp cookie, fortunately for her, and she recognizes an obsession when she sees one. I can’t count the number of times during the past several months when she’s pointed out how utterly Hill-obsessed the Republican candidates are. They can’t stop mentioning her name. Truly, it’s like a mantra. And surely, their pathology has caused her to fear for her life, as one of those crazies is liable to go Postal at her expense. (My bet is on Romney. He’s the one who put the family dog in a crate on the roof of his car, and you know how most murderers start by torturing animals.)

Before Halloween week, poor Hill had a lot on her mind, wondering exactly which “obsessed” GOP candidate might finally lose it. But on October 30th, in a debate in Philadelphia, Hill’s week got positively Kubrickian. There she was, on a big stage, surrounded by men – friendly, liberal men, or so she thought. And what did they do? They went nuts! With the exception of Bill Richardson, they all ganged up on her – or to use the words of her campaign video, they “piled on.” Edwards, Obama and Dodd. Oh my! Edwards, Obama and Dodd. Oh my!

And only one night before Halloween.

Watching that spectacle, I was thinking back to A Clockwork Orange, and that scene when Billy Boy and his drugees were having their way with that weepy young devotchka. Fortunately, our hero, Little Alex, came to her rescue and helped her escape. But in Philly, there was no escape for poor lil’ Hill. One after another, her rivals demanded that she answer questions directly and decisively, and she … well, she did her best … but how’s a girl supposed to think clearly when everyone around her is obsessed with bringing her down?

And only one night before Halloween.

Part of the problem was that Tim Russert. He kept asking her follow-up questions, as if he had a right to know what she was really thinking, or to at least figure out the logic behind the answers she gave. Clearly, he’s also part of the vast right wing conspiracy. But after the debate was over and everyone had a chance to get a good nights sleep, a little sanity was allowed to emerge. ABC News ran a big story about a video that called out Hill’s rivals for breaking the rules of political combat. According to a statement that Hill approved, "With each attack, Senators Obama and Edwards undermined the central premises of their candidacies. The sunny speeches and rosy rhetoric that once characterized their remarks has now been replaced by the kinds of jabs one typically sees from candidates desperate to gain traction in the polls."

Imagine that – Obama and Edwards are so desperate they’re actually demanding that Hill answer questions. Some gentlemen! Now it’s true that Hill started a piling-on of her own last summer by ridiculing Obama’s statement that he’d talk to our enemies. But that was different. That wasn’t a bunch of men piling on a woman. That was only a bunch of white people piling on a black man. If you can’t understand the difference, just ask all the semi-educated women who are supplying Hill her big lead in the polls. They’ll tell you why what Obama is doing now is inappropriate, whereas what Hill did this past summer is just shrewd politics. For starters, Hill never said that she was nice, but Obama did, and we should hold him to that standard, right?

To be serious, I don’t know where we’re going next with this campaign, but at least it feels like a campaign now and not like we’re watching a bunch of old horses perfunctorily heading back to the stables. The October 30th debate, for the first time in months, reminded me that there’s actually a position being contested. Edwards, in particular, deserves praise for scoring debater’s points against Clinton, and she, for the first time in months, seemed to be off her game.

Also, I can now safely conclude that no matter how reasonable the provocation, whenever her rivals blast her, Hillary Clinton will play the victim. And she will play the gender card.

Perhaps that strategy will work with her core group of fans, but it only makes me even sicker of her than I already was. The truth is that few people are truly “obsessed” with Hillary Clinton. Men are usually obsessed by attractive women – and by “attractive,” I’m talking about personalities more than looks. In fact, far from being obsessed, the Republicans like to talk about Clinton because their party is falling apart and only a campaign against her could help save them from an inevitable loss next November.

Why do they consider Clinton so beatable? Because more than any other candidate in recent memory, she feels entitled to claim the presidency without even having to give one friggen direct and honest answer to anybody’s questions.

They used to call it the divine right of kings. For Hill, it’s the divine right of ex-first ladies. Or maybe it’s just another case of dyed-blond ambition. In any event, Hill is one woman who will say and do whatever it takes to get elected – except give a direct and honest answer to a question. If you want straight-talk, I think you’ve come to the wrong political process.


Finding Fair Hope said...

I guess we're all a part of the conspiracy! Amazing how easy it is for fans of either of the Clintons to buy the premise that any criticism of them is not fair.

As far as Russert "playing Gotcha" that was the most ridiculous phrase I've heard so far in this silly campaign season. He simply wanted her to answer a question. That's his job. It's not a game, and if it were a game she could not win by using righteous indignation to paper over her slick non-answers. If the lady would only tell us where she stands, and maybe why she is not allowing certain stands to be revealed, perhaps we the voters would have some idea whether we could support her in the election. But she has her way of running -- and it's not likely that will change.

Too bad for us all.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that Hillary is better than Bush, yet she is a moral compromise. The issues with big money, playing popularity games, enabling Bill's sexual addiction - all these issues are deeply troubling. Do you have a suggestion for what can be done? Do you think there is a chance for Obama or Edwards? It's fun to read your blog.

Daniel Spiro said...

The last poll I saw indicate that her support may be dipping with this latest round of attacks. I really don't think the nomination is sowed up yet.

Daniel Spiro said...


I like the job Obama and Edwards did in Philly and think that Hillary is beatable if they keep up the pressure. Right now, she's playing the proverbial "prevent defense" -- a football term for a team that is sitting on a lead, rather than being aggressive -- and I agree with the cliche that says that "all the prevent defense does is prevent you from winning." She's going to have to start taking positions on issues where she has been waffling.

I do think Obama has a chance. but I'm not so sure about Edwards. Too many people doubt his sincerity because of stuff like his hedge fund job, huge mansion, and $400 haircuts, none of which match his would-be image of a fighter for the little guy.

Anonymous said...

Two interesting points (stolen from Krugman, I think)

1) the country has become more liberal then ever. the young people are overwhelmingly identify with the democratic party. In fact, the country is more liberal then when Bill was first elected.

2) We should not be too put off by Edwards because he is from the upper class. Rosevelt was an upperclass man, yet as you know, he did the most for american poor. Jeferson was an aristocrat, yet a progressive. I think that being able to live within your class, yet to have a compassion for others and to be a progressive is better than to be an enabler of exploitative and abusive behavior in ones own family. Hey, I just caught myself evaluating candidates by their personalities not job qualifications. How important is one vs the other, you think?

Daniel Spiro said...

The problem with the comparisons between Edwards, on the one hand, and aristocrats like Jefferson and Roosevelt, on the other, was that the latter were born with money whereas Edwards is nouveau riche. People are much more forgiving of conspicuous consumption when people merely live "in the manner to which they are accustomed."

Edwards has gone so overboard with his personal expenditures (a trademark of the nouveau riche) that he has called attention to the contrast between what he practices and the egalitarianism he preaches. It makes you wonder why he didn't tone down the spending a bit just to make himself come across as a more attractive candidate. Does anyone really need a 27,000 square foot house?

That said, I'd certainly vote for the guy in a heartbeat if he were the nominee. And if he really waged a successful war on poverty, I wouldn't begrudge him a 54,000 square foot house. In fact, I'd probably pay to see it.

Anonymous said...

Hi again,
You know, overspending is not a crime, especially if its one's own honestly earned money. May be it is the insecurity of being new to the game, long dominated by the wealthy that makes Edwards overspend the way he does. To me, these revealations appear to be a republican attack designed to discredit our candidates. I think it is important that we do not buy into it and offer alternative or better balanced interpretaions. Or a comparison to the other side... Bush family had a Queen of England over for dinner on several occasions, not to mention the Saudi princes that are their best buddies.

Daniel Spiro said...

I haven't let Edwards' spending patterns affect who I support. With or without his conspicuous consumption, I'd support Obama more than him, and him more than Clinton. The other candidates only have a chance in a brokered convention.

Finding Fair Hope said...

I agree with anonymous about Edwards. But I agree with the blogmeister about his chances for winning.

I think Edwards deserves a better shot than he has gotten and would be a good President, but I just don't think he's got the gravitas, whatever that is, to convince a majority of voters. I'd rather see him than Obama, but much much much rather see Obama than Hillary. I just hope those Iowans and New Hampshirites do the right thing and give the nation a good choice. Hillary is a phony. And worse. She's a phony right down to her politician heart. Liberal? Neither she nor her husband has ever indicated they are Liberal. They are poll-driven and afraid to take a stand on issues.