Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hillary Clinton Seems Less Inevitable

I commented on the feud between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in yesterday's post. In that entry, E. J. Dionne noted how the tension between the two top Democrats hightlighted the triumph of personal ambition over the interests of the Democratic Party and the policy concerns of its voters.

Other commentators have noted, however, how Clinton's response showcased her vulnerability as the putative frontrunner. Peggy Noonan, for example, in this weekend's Wall Street Journal, argued that the episode demonstrated the questionable inevitability of Clinton's nomination in 2008:
Mrs. Clinton has never gone after a fellow Democrat quite the way she's going after Mr. Obama, and it's an indication of how threatened she is not only by his candidacy but, one suspects, his freshness. He makes her look like yesterday. He makes her look like the old slash-and-burn. I doubted he could do her serious damage. Now I wonder.

What Mrs. Clinton is trying to establish is this: to criticize her--to speak of her critically as a human being, as a person with a record and a history and a style and attitudes--is, ipso facto, to be dirty, and low, and destructive. To air and raise questions about who she is, how she operates, and what can be inferred from her past actions is by definition an unjust act.

But Americans have always--always--looked at and judged the character and personality of their candidates for president. And they have been right to do so. It mattered that Lincoln was Honest Abe, Washington had no personal lust for power, that FDR was an optimist and a manipulator, that Adams was a man of rectitude and no small amount of stubbornness. These facts, these aspects of their nature, had policy implications and leadership implications. They couldn't be more pertinent. They still are.
Betsy Newmark, over at Betsy's Page, was tickled over the brouhaha, and she cites as an update some additional comments from The Anchoress on the meaning of Hillary's response to the Geffen rebuke for her fitness to serve in the nation's highest office:

She wants to lead the nation, and the free world. And our troops. But let someone with a little disposable cash cast a disagreeable eye her way, and Hillary thrusts out her lip, plays the victim, calls them “mean” and demands that they pull back and let her win!
Hey - there is a tactic we haven’t tried! I wonder if we can defeat Islamofascism by labeling them "meanies" and making a moue.

Can you imagine if this woman had to endure one fiftieth of the personal and political nastiness and criticism heaped upon President Bush every day? If she can’t take a few shots from Geffen, she’s demonstrating just how weak she is. Indeed, no lion-heart is Hillary. There is no clanking when she walks.
In an earlier post I covered the emerging conservative swiftboat campaign against Clinton. The Democrats' internal fights will no doubt assist those GOP activists seeking to derail the inevitability of Clinton's campaign machine.

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