Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Stalking Hillary: Her Tough Side"

Nicholas von Hoffman (The Nation):
Will we kill them before they drive us crazy? Or will they drive us crazy first and then we'll kill them? How are we going to make it through the next 20 months till Election Day?
In the old days you could use the same stump speech for a year and a half without anybody noticing and getting bored because you had to move from stump to stump to give it and the people at the next tree stump hadn't heard what you said to the people at the last stump. Now, the first time you give your stump speech is the last time it will sound new, fresh and inspiring.

How, then, will this clutch of candidates get through the long, dry, repetitive months ahead?

Quicker than you can say Lincoln Bedroom, movie executive David Geffen, thought to be the 45th richest man in the United States, let go with a blast at the Clintons. Since Geffen had been a major money raiser for them this is a painful moment for America's poster child couple. The Clintons' respect for money is well documented.

Geffen's treason is yet more dastardly than questioning their electability and their honesty. He attacked him and her as though him and her were one person. When he brought up Bill Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich just as Clinton was leaving office, it was as though she had done it. Rich is the 207th richest American and a shady commodities dealer convicted of tax evasion. The suspicion persists that only a bribe can account for the man's pardon.

You may be sure that the conflating of him and her haunts the Hillary campaign, but more tangible reasons exist to destroy Geffen. The man has switched sides and is now raising money for Barak Obama. Before Obama walked out of the Clintons' nightmares to become a real candidate, they had the Hollywood money locked up.

In conformity with the Clinton campaign tactics manual, Hillary had one of her button men immediately blast back, not at Geffen, but at Obama, who, so far as is known, had nothing to do with Geffen's remarks. There is no controlling the mouth of a billionaire. They say what they say and, if they're on your side, you hope that they are generous.

The Clinton campaign manual has it that you do not wait five minutes before you lash or slash back at whoever has criticized you. The idea is that you do not let the enemy define you.

But Hillary has a special "tough broad" problem. Nobody who follows the political game doubts the lady would have any compunction about kicking Geffen or anyone else in her way squarely in the onions. Once upon a time Hillary had a reputation as the idealist, the ideologue, one might even say the dreamer in the family, but she has worked for the past seven years to rid herself of such tags.

Today she defines herself as Ms. Tough Broad, Ms. Pragmatic, Ms. Senator Wheeler and Dealer. Again, she has reminded us that she is a midnight alley slasher, but does that get you votes from people who think you need some other qualification beside gender to make a good President?

While we answer that question, this little contretemps gives promise that the next year or so may be entertaining after all.

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