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 Friday, June 06, 2008

Waiting for Hillary to exhale


Americans have nothing but love for the underdog.

The problem in Hillary Clinton’s case is she has never been an underdog. She is, however, the underdog-come-lately and, frankly, such a distinction does not count.

You do not turn into America’s sweetheart in the bottom of the ninth with two outs particularly when the nation’s latest political idol is perched on the mound ready to save the nation from its woes.

It just doesn’t happen.

Hillary’s only chance of turning into Cinderella fell by the wayside right after she told Bill, “I do.”

She is the Wellesley and Yale Law school graduate who parlayed Arkansas’ first lady’s role into an eight-year run at the White House. Her first taste of the executive branch saw her spearheading an effort to nationalize health care, and to say she failed miserably is an understatement. Such setbacks did not deter her as she is a Clinton, and Clintons know how to win elections — hence Bill’s second term. But that was then.

I always got the sense that there is this tedious, but steadfast sense of entitlement with Hillary.

When she announced that she would run for the senate from New York, it didn’t take a political guru to know where her ultimate quest would lead her.

It seems everyone who breathes has an opinion about her, and at least 40 percent of those exhaling claim they would never vote for her, regardless of her political standing.

One South Carolina Democrat told The New York Times that she couldn’t win even if she “promised to eliminate the income tax and give free ice cream to everyone.”

Whoever said that “overnight is a lifetime in politics” knew what they were talking about.

Less than six months ago, the big question was how Hillary and Rudy Giuliani would battle against each other in this year’s presidential elections. Giuliani has been long gone from the presidential sweepstakes, but Hillary marches on.

While first lady she did a ton of campaigning for not only her husband, but the entire Democratic machine. She also did plenty of looking the other way. Now it is her turn. How much more does this woman have to endure?

New York Times columnist David Brooks dubs her quest for the nomination “The Audacity of Hopelessness,” a play on Barack Obama’s book, “Audacity of Hope.”

Others say she continues to hurt her party’s chances by remaining a candidate. Naturally, she fails to accept this as true. Hillary believes she is saving the party, not hurting it, and that she alone is the most electable Democrat in the party.

In retrospect, how much has “Clinton fatigue” contributed to her fall from frontrunner to backburner?

The Democrats talk about presumed Republican candidate John McCain being a de facto third Bush term, when in fact, it is Hillary who would be a Clinton third term, guaranteed. After all, Bill has been and will always be part of the package. How could someone who served two terms as president of the United States not be?

Still the question persists. Why is Hillary still campaigning?

Simply put, the woman wants to win. You can’t win if you drop out. In a letter to the New York Daily News published last Sunday, Hillary said she remains committed to the cause, “because my parents did not raise me to be a quitter.”

She has equated herself with the movie character Rocky Balboa, and in many respects such a characterization is accurate. She has taken some good shots not only from her opponent Barack Obama, but by the mainstream media. Then again, if you lead with your head and feel the urge to prove your tenaciousness, what choices do you have? And why is it every published picture of Hillary has her looking like a bloated bug-eyed deer caught in the headlights?

To her own discredit, she hasn’t helped herself by lying. Who could forget her memorable quip about coming under fire on the tarmac in Bosnia; being named after Sir Edmund Hillary; and Chelsea jogging around the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11 — to name three recent fibs.

More than once she was on the brink of being KO’d from the race, but the Clinton political corner always has been able to prop her up for another round.

Out of all the critiquing and in-depth analysis that proliferates every form of media available, the best reason why Hillary continues on in this unprecedented march to the presidential nomination is because she hopes to undercut Obama’s chances.

Plainly put, she hopes the freshman senator from Illinois loses the November general election and proves she was right in saying he is unelectable. Such an outcome would once again place her as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2012.

However much Hillary likes to be compared to Rocky, she has to admit sooner or later that Rocky never won the heavyweight title in his fist fight. Sentiments aside, he lost the decision, but did garner a rematch. In four years, Hillary will be 65 — five years younger than John McCain is now.

Coming to a theater near you — Hillary II in 2012.

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