It didn’t take long for Bill Clinton to get his wish. The media is now bathing Hillary in the delirious adoration of which she’d been deprived during the Obama surge. If tears brought her to “likeable enough,” most everyone now seems to agree with Barack Obama when last night he pronounced Hillary “plenty likable.” Tim Russert had barely signed off before commentators began complimenting Hillary on taking the high road, taking control—in short, taking the debate. The first story to pop up on my Google News home page was entitled “Clinton Shines in Vegas.”
I think I saw the wrong debate. I saw the one in which both front-runners spent the first twenty-minutes to a half-hour in saccharine deference to each other, then about ten minutes in a shared state of wistful misgivings, and then divided the rest of the time between blaming their hirelings and splitting the hairs on their nearly identical policies. In fact, among the only things that did stick out in this blameless love-fest was the bristling calculation that seems lodged forever in Hillary’s throat—no matter what she says. Alessandra Stanley unintentionally nailed it in today’s New York Times when she described Hillary’s “using niceness like an ice pick.”
Yet, everyone’s been happily gouged. And she’s earning praise for the not-so-niceness, too. She said, “President Bush is over in the Gulf now begging the Saudis and others to drop the price of oil. How pathetic.” Instead of being called out as the over-the-line trash-talking that it is, this declaration is now hailed as Hillary’s crowning moment.
Calling the President pathetic while overseas goes several steps beyond describing his “bunker mentality.” But then, Mike Huckabee, cherished as he was, isn’t a Clinton.