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Wednesday, April 2, 2008
It Wasn't Supposed to Be Like This

Bad news for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Very bad news. I expect Disney-like pyrotechnics.

Here's how it was supposed to work: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) was supposed to be more or less the consensus candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Few other candidates could or would dare to launch a serious challenge, for fear of being run over by the Clinton machine. Upstarts like Barack Obama (D-Illinois) would never get close enough to go for the jugular, and would be content just to be mentioned in the same paragraph and appear at a few debates with The Hillary. The word coronation has been used; it seems apt.

Thus she and her checkered past would escape carefully scrutiny during the primaries, after which, as the Democratic nominee, she would be insulated from serious damage by the mainstream media, enjoying the free pass the Big Media Acronyms (BMA) have given her and her husband for years.

It hasn't worked out that way. In a close race, she's behind in the delegate count, which matters. She's behind in the popular vote, which only matters indirectly. She's running out of money, and Barack Obama isn't. He's the new and interesting candidate in the picture; she's the pant-suited ghost of circuses past. Worst of all, for her, that free pass from the BMA apparently doesn't work during close primary races.

She's not getting away with her fictionalized account of a time when it was too dangerous for President Bill Clinton to go to Bosnia, so she and her daughter went instead, accompanied by a comedian and a popular singer. She said there was sniper fire . . . then CBS played actually footage showing that what really happened was a ceremony, complete with a poetry reading, right there at the airfield.

It's like the time last month when I saved a ten-dollar Office Depot coupon to use on a new toner cartridge for my excellent Hewlett Packard printer, only to discover in the fine print, at the last minute, that the coupon wasn't valid for HP toner cartridges. But even if Senator Clinton had read in the free media pass's fine print, "Not valid during close primary races against charismatic African-American Democrats," it would not have mattered. She still would not have expected to need it.

She could have weathered Spitzer-gate easily, even though it reeked strongly of the ribald days of Clinton I. She wasn't directly involved, of course, but she had to be suffering a little. At this point, any reminder of her husband's extreme mentoring and its aftermath is bad, if you're his wife, the candidate.

She could have dismissed the sniper fire thing as a one-time misstatement with partial success, trusting that most people wouldn't check their facts and discover that she had said it at a number of events in recent months. And she could have weathered her husband's weekend temper tantrum in the presence of those all-important California superdelegates, because she wasn't there, and because there may not be videotape.

But if a story that hit the presses in a small way Monday ever makes the big time, she may be finished. (Okay, I admit, I don't know how many silver bullets it takes to dispatch a she-werewolf, or how you bury the undead, especially when the surname is Clinton. I said she may be finished.)

Dan Calabrese published a story Monday at NorthStarWriters.com which has Ms. Hillary Rodham's former supervisor in the Watergate investigation, House Judiciary Committee general counsel Jerry Zeifman, telling stories that are not favorable to the candidate. According to him, she and others looked for a way (a) to deny an impeached president (which Richard Nixon would have been, had he not resigned first) the right to legal counsel and (b) to prevent the cross-examination of witnesses. This alone would be unthinkable behavior by a Democratic attorney, if the prospective victim had not been a Republican president. But the problem here is a lot bigger than that: She tried to hide a recent opposing precedent by removing the files which recorded it and hiding them away, then denying in her brief that there was any precedent.

Had the House Judiciary Committee filed her fraudulent brief with a judge, says Zeifman, who is "a lifelong Democrat," he thinks Rodham (now Clinton) would have been disbarred.

It doesn't help the beleagured candidate at all that Zeifman says he has a detailed diary of those days, and -- apparently -- he's not afraid to allow it to be examined.

If this story checks out, it makes the sniper fire fabrication part of an unmistakably clear pattern. It also smacks loudly (is that the right adverb?) of those missing, illegally obtained FBI files at the White House during Clinton I, among other records. Worse, all those memories of the Clinton I Circus come flooding back. I doubt a majority of Democratic superdelegates will vote for a Clinton II Circus with the first one so firmly in mind.

If you want to watch the story spread, watch this Google News Search.

My expectations count for little, but I don't expect Candidate Clinton to go quietly or soon; she will fight back. Speaking of which . . .

The current favorite movie in the Rodeback home is Disney's Enchanted, a clever, well-executed near-classic which blends live action and animation and, more significally, juxtaposes reality-based and fairy-tale world views. I saw it a few days ago on DVD, courtesy of Netflix. Apparently, I am not thoroughly politicized yet; it was this morning before I drew a parallel between the movie's ending and the foreseeable, eventual end of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

(Warning: spoiler follows.) After the handsome prince's "true love's kiss" has failed to rouse Amy Adams' lovely Giselle from her dying swoon, and the nice Manhattan single-father-guy's kiss has succeeded, the other New Yorkers at the ball applaud what they think is a theatrical production presented for their entertainment. Hearing them praise the ending, the witchy, evil Susan Sarandon queen character shrieks something like, "Ending? I'll show you an ending!" Fire, explosions, and assorted property damage ensue, and she turns into a dragon. I'm told it's a deliberate borrowing from Snow White.

What dawned on me this morning is that this is approximately what I expect Senator Clinton's defeat to look like, if she is defeated in the end: pyrotechnics and destruction all around. It won't be pretty; it won't be fun; and there's no one in this picture who is as easy on the eyes as Amy Adams. All of that is okay with me, as long as the dragon meets her political end before the show is over, preferably no later than the end of August.

After she's gone, we'll deal with the frogs that are left. I expect them to be a bit singed but still hopping.

David Rodeback comments (4/2/08):

I have lately learned that Jerry Zeifman has been telling this story for a while. He even has his own web site and books. (Thanks to HotAir.com for the link, and to TheModerateVoice.com for the link to HotAir.com.)

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