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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

She won't go easy

Hillary will likely fight to the bitter end -- but she should be grateful the media gave her a free pass.

By Camille Paglia

"She Came to Stay." That was the American title of Simone de Beauvoir's first book, a 1943 roman à clef about a manipulative and self-absorbed young woman who saps the energy and willpower of her admirers and plunges them into the existential abyss.

As a candidate running a close second, Hillary would normally have every right to complete the primary process, which runs into early June. Calls for her to drop out of the race began months ago and were certainly premature. But at this point, even with strong wins in Appalachia, Hillary has no true rationale for her candidacy, other than her inflamed gender and her putative Washington "experience" -- which has yet to produce a tangible legislative achievement. Her persistence is now keyed to her hope (chillingly close to a curse) that her rival will make a major gaffe or be besmirched by some unknown past scandal. And her message maliciously undermines the presumptive nominee by targeting his presumed weakness in the general election. But the gifted Obama is just getting started on the national stage, while his opponent, John McCain, is a clumsy, fusty, narcissistic waffler whose party is in disarray and revolt against him.
I'm puzzled by the optimism of so many commentators and Democratic functionaries who are prophesying Hillary's graceful withdrawal by mid-June. Is there anything in the Clintons' tawdry history to support such a thesis? Why wouldn't they play smiley-face rope-a-dope now and smash-mouth alley-and-ambush fisticuffs right to the bitter end -- meaning the convention in August? It's now or never for Ms. Hill. Even if Obama loses this fall, there's no guarantee whatever that she would win the Democratic nomination in 2012. That hoss will have been around the rodeo way too many times. The infusion of fresh new blood into the party -- especially women governors -- has already started. Who will want to resurrect all those 1990s mummies?

Republican operatives have been salivating for Hillary to be the nominee. Her vainglorious claim to have been fully "vetted" is ludicrous. She and her husband left a mountain of manure in Little Rock and Washington that hasn't even begun to be thrown. The mainstream media, despite its tilt toward Obama, has been amazingly protective of the Clintons during this campaign. Where were the chronologies of the voluminous Clinton scandals that voters (especially young ones) needed to evaluate Hillary's professional judgment and character? That the conservative Washington Times has now begun to make document drops about Hillary's stonewalling and duplicity (such as over the Rose Law Firm billing records) suggests that Republicans have concluded her candidacy is kaput.

Surely, given Hillary's claim of expertise on the basis of her service as first lady, every major or ambiguous episode in her husband's two presidencies should have been systematically reexamined by the media. I for one have renewed questions about the 1993 suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, Hillary's former law partner and longtime friend, whose files were purged by Hillary's staff before they could be examined for evidence. One must always be skeptical about Web rumors, but my interest was piqued last year by claims that Foster was shattered by the role he had played three months earlier in the outrageous order for federal agents to attack David Koresh's ranch at Waco, Texas, producing a conflagration that led to 76 deaths, including 21 children. Why has the Waco fiasco been forgotten? It triggered the worst case of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, the 1995 revenge bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

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