The Hillary Waltz
- From: jose <josefsoplar@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2008 09:15:54 -0700 (PDT)
The Hillary Waltz
By MAUREEN DOWD
Democrats getting jittery about the alienating effects of the endless
soap opera they call their campaign should buck up. These "hand-
wringers," as the Hillary strategist Harold Ickes calls them, are not
seeing the larger picture.
Hillary is cruelly misunderstood, and she deserves more credit for her
benevolence. Not only does she have a lot in common with Rocky, as she
said Tuesday in Philadelphia, but she has a lot in common with another
famous character -- the Marschallin in Strauss's bittersweet comic
opera "Der Rosenkavalier."
The Marschallin is a princess married to a Viennese field marshal who
has a liaison dangereuse with a younger man, Count Octavian. Though
she's worried about her fleeting youth and the fickleness of men, she
instructs the young man on the ways of love and then gracefully sets
him free, allowing him to find happiness with young Sophie as a
soaring waltz plays.
Whether or not she wins, Hillary has already given noble service as a
sophisticated political tutor for Obama, providing her younger
colleague with much-needed seasoning. Who else was going to toughen
him up? Howard Dean? John Edwards? Dennis Kucinich?
Obama had not been hit hard until this campaign; he sailed through his
Senate race. Without Hillary, he never would have learned to be a good
debater. He never would have understood how to robustly answer
distorted and personal attacks. He never would have been warned about
how harmful an unplugged spouse can be. He never would have realized
how a luminous speech can be effective damage control.
When pressed about whether he's ready for Swift-boating, Obama has
seemed a bit cavalier. But the Hillary camp will garrote him with his
mistakes until he fully appreciates what garroting feels like. Ickes
told a Web site Tuesday that he has been pursuing superdelegates by
pressing the Rev. Wright issue.
Besides coaching Obama, Hillary is also shielding him. If she had not
fibbed about the Tuzla airport landing, and then fibbed to get out of
a fib, the press would have stayed focused on Wright. She has been an
invaluable lightning rod.
Hillary has clearly raised Obama's consciousness about the importance
of courting the ladies. Touring a manufacturing plant in Allentown,
Pa., Tuesday, he was flirtatious, winking and grinning at the women
working there, calling one "Sweetie," telling another she was
"beautiful," and imitating his daughters' dance moves by twirling
Later, at a Scranton town hall, he went up to Denise Mercuri, a
pharmacist from Dunmore wearing a Hillary button. "What do I need to
do? Do you want me on my knees?" he charmed, before promising: "I'll
give you a kiss."
Obama has been less adept at absorbing the lesson of Hillary's
metamorphosis from entitled queen of the party to scrappy blue-collar
mama. His strenuous and inadvertently hilarious efforts to woo working-
class folk in Pennsylvania have only made him seem more effete.
Keeping his tie firmly in place, he genteelly sipped his pint of
Yuengling beer at Sharky's sports cafe in Latrobe and bowled badly in
Altoona. Challenging Obama to a bowl-off, Hillary kindly offered to
"spot him two frames."
At the Wilbur chocolate shop in Lititz Monday, he spent most of his
time skittering away from chocolate goodies, as though he were a
starlet obsessing on a svelte waistline.
"Oh, now," the woman managing the shop told him with a frown, "you
don't worry about calories in a chocolate factory."
The Times's Michael Powell reports that, after watching five plump,
white-haired women in plastic hairnets spin the chocolate into such
confections as "Phantom of the Opera" masks and pink high heels, he
ventured: "Do you actually eat the chocolate or do you get sick of
it?" They giggled at his silliness.
He looked even more concerned when he was offered a chocolate cake
with white chocolate frosting. "Oh, man." he said. "That's too
decadent for me."
One of the most valuable lessons the gritty Hillary can teach the
languid Obama -- and the timid Democrats -- is that the whole point of a
presidential race is to win.
It's not to share power, or force the squabbling couple into an
arranged marriage. The winner wins, even if it's only by a fraction of
a percentage point or one Supreme Court justice. Winning has no margin
of error, as the Democrats should have learned by now. And the winner
gets to decide his or her running mate.
But the ultimate favor Hillary can do for the Illinois freshman is to
fight him full-out until the finale and then gracefully release him so
he can find happiness with another.
Hillary's work is done only when she is done, because the best way for
Obama to prove he's ready to stare down Ahmadinejad is by putting away
someone even tougher.
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