January 17th, 2007

Clinton Camp Jelly-Legs After Obama News

by Philip Baruth

Dana Milbank has an amusing follow-up to Obama’s pre-announcement yesterday. Apparently only moments after the Obama people went live with the news of the exploratory committee, the Clinton camp scratched a previously scheduled announcement of the findings from Hillary’s Iraq/Afghanistan tour.

hillary, having it both ways

Clearly Hillary didn’t relish having her Return from the Front relegated to page 12.

And no doubt her people decided to see exactly where Obama positioned himself on the War, before announcing their new infinitesimally adjusted position (Supported it, But Deplore the Execution, And Now Sadly Favor Phased Withdrawal).

The formal reason offered for the Clinton cancellation was that one of the Congressmen on her Iraq trip had to remain behind for a day due to dehydration.

Milbank found this excuse less than credible, apparently: “And we lost the phone number. And the dog ate my homework. And I think I hear my mom calling.”

Get used to it, Hillary fans.

Clinton’s numbers will drop in direct proportion to her serious and open engagement in the race, not only because of our conflicted national view of her personally, but because she will nuance herself right out of the nomination.

Bill Clinton could get by with endless nuancing and triangulation because he made voters feel so much in a direct, personal context.

It’s something that perhaps only Edwards in this field can do as effortlessly: nuance on the War, and yet remain somehow authentic in the feeling he projects.

Edwards let fly on the War this past week, and brought a church in Harlem to its feet. It won’t be enough to speak marginally acceptable phrases; passion will rule the day.

And the passions associated with Hillary Clinton have never been positive on the Right, and they grow less so on the Left with every passing day.

And that leaves only Lieberman, after all.

Late Update, Thursday, 7:44 am:

That was fast. Apparently Hillary’s people read yesterday’s post on the need for more passion and less triangulation. From Clinton’s interview with the Times yesterday:

“I’m really passionate about getting the administration’s attention because they hold most of the cards,” Mrs. Clinton said during an interview in her Senate office here.

Of course, the claim to passion would have a lot more zing if it weren’t followed up with a slightly refurbished version of the Lieberman war strategy: “I am not for imposing a date — certain withdrawal date . . . But don’t be mistaken, I am for ending this war as soon as possible.”

By 2008, candidates using this formulation are going to be pelted with trash in the street. Look for Hillary to execute an about-face on timetables in the not-too-distant future.

Not Joe Lieberman, though. When McCain says frog, Big Joe jumps.