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End of an Era

The Obama wave, which has been building for months, reached the proportions of a tidal wave after Iowa. It is now about to submerge, sink, and drown the Clinton campaign, and with it, the Clinton era will come, finally, to a close.

The Clinton years lasted from 1992 to 2007. In the early days of January 2008, a young, graceful senator from Illinois, liberal and likeable, with only a few years of experience in the U.S. Senate, stood up to Hillary and Bill Clinton and the vaunted Clinton machine and ran rings around all of them. Every effort to try to derail Obama came back to hurt them. Just this morning Senator Clinton told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Obama “is a very talented politician” but “if he’s going to be competing for president – and especially to get the Democratic nomination and go up against whomever the Republican put up – I think it is really time to start comparing and contrasting him as I have been scrutinized for all of this year.” Obama’s response on the same program? “I find the manner in which they’ve been running their campaign sort of depressing lately.” That is quite a clever response: short and true and devastating. Senator Clinton came across as peevish and angry during Saturday’s night debate.

I have said before that to watch Obama v. Clinton is to be reminded of watching Ali v. Foreman. The de facto knockout blow is about to be delivered tomorrow in the snowy streets of New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton certainly won’t drop out after her loss; she will stagger on but prove unable to stop Obama. And to watch the Clintons’ rage and desperation grow in the last days of this campaign will not be pretty. They will lash out at everyone, including Obama, the media, her own campaign, and maybe, eventually, each other.

This is a couple not known for their grace or for holding lightly to their grip on power.

There are many things to say about the deeper meaning of this moment and what its passing will signify. Suffice it to say that it will be good, very good, for us to say farewell to the couple that brought you Carville, Begala, Blumenthal, and Ickes; the “war room,” the use of private investigators, and attacks on women like Dolly Kyle Browning, Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, and Kathleen Willey; impeachment for perjurious, false and misleading testimony to a grand jury; contempt of court findings; the promiscuous smearing of those whom they viewed as threat to their power; the charges of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” and assurances that “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”; and so much more.

On the eve of the New Hampshire vote and all it will mean, it’s worth recalling the words of the late, great Michael Kelly:

The lie at the heart of the vast and varied lie that is Bill Clinton’s defense is that lying is a victimless crime – and something that properly exists as a moral concern only between the liar and his maker and a few people immediately affected. But this is not so. Lying corrupts, and an absolute liar corrupts absolutely, and the corruption spread by the lies of the absolutely mendacious Clinton is becoming frightening to behold.

After she loses, Hillary Clinton will remain in the Senate, of course, and Bill Clinton will continue to make millions through his public speeches. They will not completely disappear from the national scene. But their days as a Democratic dynasty, and their center-stage role in American politics, are about to end.



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