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There are any number of adjectives I might have expected to apply to Hillary Clinton. Stupid was not one of them. But this is stupid:

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – At a news conference here just now, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton expanded her attacks on Senator Barack Obama by suggesting that he has a character issue because of his assertions that his health insurance plan covers all Americans (which she disputes) and because his old political action committee spread around money in early presidential nominating states.

Asked if Mr. Obama had a character problem, Mrs. Clinton first said it was up for voters to determine, but then added:

“It’s beginning to look a lot like that – it really is, where we can’t get a straight answer on health care, where somebody runs on ethics and not taking money from certain people is found to have at least skirted if not violated F.E.C. rules and to use lobbyists and Pac money to do so. You’re going to have ask the Obama campaign, but I have said for months that I would much rather be attacking Republicans and attacking problems of our country because ultimately that’s what I want to do as president.

“But I have been for months on the receiving end of rather consistent attacks – well now the fun part starts,” Mrs. Clinton said, punctuating the word “fun.” “We’re into the last month, and we’re going to start drawing the contrasts, because I want every Iowans to have accurate information when they make their decisions.”
No, Hillary, no. This is not the way. The way to play this with Obama is condescension. Your role is the unintentionally belittling mother. Obama's the gawky, easily-humiliated teenager. That's how you play it. You're amused by his presumption. You like him, too, he's cute, he's sweet. Aw, wook at him trying to be pwesident, isn't that pwecious? That was the play. Not pulling out a shiv and trying to stab him in the throat.

Then, there's this:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign has used words attributed to Sen. Barack Obama from when he was a kindergartner -- and from when he was in third grade -- to accuse him of "rewriting history" when he says he hasn't been planning for a long time to run for president.

I mean, Jesus. You're doing oppo on the man's kindergarten records now? When he was three and wet his bed, then tried to cover it up, was that a character issue? Did he flip-flop in his mother's womb? Do we know all we should about his time as a zygote? Better find out!

Hillary's trouble began some weeks back when she blew the famous drivers license question. But that was -- should have been -- a mere flesh wound. Sadly, it seemed to knock her off her stride. Since then, she turned in a strong performance at the, um . . . I'm gonna say 74th . . . debate, but she has not regained her mojo. Bill hasn't helped. Oprah, announcing for Obama, hasn't helped. Hillary's whining and playing victim hasn't helped.

But you know what really hasn't helped? The latent romanticism of Democratic voters. There's no joy in a Hillary story. There's no love, there. No throat choked with emotion on inauguration day. Hillary is the candidate of cold calculation, of ruthlessness and competence.

Obama? Obama is the narrative we want. Obama's the one whose presence in the race flatters us. We want the answer to be Obama. And he's showing just the tiniest bit of backbone, lately. He's no tough guy, yet, but his wrist seems just a bit less limp.

We were trying to content ourselves with low-fat competence rather than chocolate-frosted romance. Then Hillary went and spoiled it all by showing that she could be derailed by a trifle. That wasn't competence on display. And this panicky, misbegotten attack on Obama, isn't competence. And if Borg Queen Hillary isn't competent, what the hell is she?

I'd still trust the country to Hillary before Obama. Obama still hasn't grown tall enough, and broad enough, and shown that he can throw an elbow. But what was once a wide lead in my mind is a razor's edge now. Can Hillary get her death star back on course? Or will the kid step up and make the sale?

Show us something, Barack. You know we want you.

Hillary? We don't like you, so we have to be overawed by you before we'll vote your way. So stop the stupid.

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  1. Blogger Pastor_Jeff Says:

    Yes, they actually went looking for the guy's third-grade teacher to get a quote about his lifelong ambition to be President. Sheesh.

    Stupid, clueless, or scared? I'm going with a mix of all three, favoring clueless. I'm sure it made perfect sense inside the Hillary Dome; nobody stopped to think or care how this would play with actual humans.

  2. Blogger kreiz1 Says:

    Outstanding commentary, as usual. She kinda lacks her husband's deft political skill. This isn't a tough one to figure out, but her instincts are ham-handed. Too bad.

    That being said, she's still Walter Mondale in '84, the Establishment Candidate, so she'll be fine. At least to the nomination.

  3. Blogger Dyre42 Says:

    I think Obama is realizes that going toe to toe with Clinton is a losing proposition. She's highly experienced at the slugfest that American politics has become. By taking the high road he is forcing her to play chess rather than waging war. If he can win enough primaries that way he is probably more capable than many are giving him credit for.

  4. Blogger Tom Strong Says:

    Once again, you seem to have anticipated someone who gets paid to do this.

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