Commentary Magazine


Topic: Hillary

Stumping the State Department

Quick – name three good things that have come from the U.S.’s participating in the UN Human Rights Council! OK, it was a trick question. We have accomplished nothing there. P.J. Crowley couldn’t even come up with one:

QUESTION: P.J., earlier today, the UN Human Rights Council passed a pretty strong condemnatory resolution about the flotilla incident. Among the items in this resolution is the creation of a independent fact-finding mission to go and investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance. I realize that you guys voted against this along with two of your stalwart allies, but it passed pretty overwhelmingly. I’m wondering if this is the kind of thing that you were thinking about when you were talking about an international component to the Israeli investigation. 

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think you heard in our explanation of vote that we considered this to be a rush to judgment. I would call attention in the resolution that it actually condemned the attack by Israeli forces before Israel or anyone else has had the opportunity to fairly evaluate the facts. So that is the reason why we voted no.. .

QUESTION: So in the 18 months that you are — 15, 16 months that you’ve been on the council, have you seen it improve? 

MR.CROWLEY: We think our presence on the council is positive and constructive. 

QUESTION: How did that manifest itself in this vote? 

CROWLEY: Well, we — there was a — I mean, all we can do — we have — we don’t — we don’t dictate what the Human Rights Council. …

QUESTION: The previous administration didn’t — didn’t — I mean, didn’t — they basically ignored the whole council because — because of situations like this. 

CROWLEY: Well, and we don’t think ignoring, you know, these issues. …

QUESTION: So your no vote is enough? 

CROWLEY: Well, I mean, the no vote is what we’re empowered to do as part of the Human Rights Council. We will continue to work — you know, I mean, we’ll — we’ll engage in the Human Rights Council, just as we’re engaging on the margins of the International Criminal Court review conference. You had a briefing about that earlier this afternoon. 

We — we are willing to work constructively with countries around the world on the most urgent issues that face us all. We understand that there will be times where our view may carry the day, and there will be times where our — you know, other countries have different points of view.

Got that? In fact, we’ve done plenty of damage by being there — displaying our impotence and elevating the profile of regimes that are among the worst human rights abusers. The administration keeps saying it defends Israel in international bodies. When? How?

The administration’s participation in the Human Rights Council is a sop to the thugocracies. The notion that we are doing good by showing them deference is based on nothing but wishful thinking. Hillary told us that “ideology is so yesterday.” Actually, it’s alive and well in the State Department.

Quick – name three good things that have come from the U.S.’s participating in the UN Human Rights Council! OK, it was a trick question. We have accomplished nothing there. P.J. Crowley couldn’t even come up with one:

QUESTION: P.J., earlier today, the UN Human Rights Council passed a pretty strong condemnatory resolution about the flotilla incident. Among the items in this resolution is the creation of a independent fact-finding mission to go and investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance. I realize that you guys voted against this along with two of your stalwart allies, but it passed pretty overwhelmingly. I’m wondering if this is the kind of thing that you were thinking about when you were talking about an international component to the Israeli investigation. 

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think you heard in our explanation of vote that we considered this to be a rush to judgment. I would call attention in the resolution that it actually condemned the attack by Israeli forces before Israel or anyone else has had the opportunity to fairly evaluate the facts. So that is the reason why we voted no.. .

QUESTION: So in the 18 months that you are — 15, 16 months that you’ve been on the council, have you seen it improve? 

MR.CROWLEY: We think our presence on the council is positive and constructive. 

QUESTION: How did that manifest itself in this vote? 

CROWLEY: Well, we — there was a — I mean, all we can do — we have — we don’t — we don’t dictate what the Human Rights Council. …

QUESTION: The previous administration didn’t — didn’t — I mean, didn’t — they basically ignored the whole council because — because of situations like this. 

CROWLEY: Well, and we don’t think ignoring, you know, these issues. …

QUESTION: So your no vote is enough? 

CROWLEY: Well, I mean, the no vote is what we’re empowered to do as part of the Human Rights Council. We will continue to work — you know, I mean, we’ll — we’ll engage in the Human Rights Council, just as we’re engaging on the margins of the International Criminal Court review conference. You had a briefing about that earlier this afternoon. 

We — we are willing to work constructively with countries around the world on the most urgent issues that face us all. We understand that there will be times where our view may carry the day, and there will be times where our — you know, other countries have different points of view.

Got that? In fact, we’ve done plenty of damage by being there — displaying our impotence and elevating the profile of regimes that are among the worst human rights abusers. The administration keeps saying it defends Israel in international bodies. When? How?

The administration’s participation in the Human Rights Council is a sop to the thugocracies. The notion that we are doing good by showing them deference is based on nothing but wishful thinking. Hillary told us that “ideology is so yesterday.” Actually, it’s alive and well in the State Department.

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Preview

If you want to know what Hillary’s strategist, Harold Ickes, might whisper in the ears of superdelegates if she decides to stay in and fight, here is a good taste. Nothing quite beats Paul Begala lecturing Donna Brazile that Democrats can’t win with a coalition of “eggheads and African Americans.” After that exchange, you can probably add one more superdelegate (Brazile) to the Obama column. Gotta love that Clinton light touch.

But before Republicans get excited about the possibilty of vicious infighting that will torment Democrats, those Republicans should keep in mind two things. First, eventually there will be a nominee (whether May or June or August) and a final night of the convention where everyone will raise hands together and declare undying loyalty. Most of those Clinton supporters, especially ones committed enough to vote in a primary, will vote Democratic in November. And there are a lot more registered Democrats than there used to be.

Second, Obama is a fast learner. His speech last night included a heavy dose of heartfelt appreciation for America, reverence for the land of opportunity and lots of empathy for working class voters. Like a vacuum cleaner, he is sucking up the Clintonian message to blue collar voters and absorbing the rhetoric which has successfully lured a coalition of working class whites, seniors and women. Don’t expect any more Snobgate slip-ups.

In short, the fun for conservatives is at an end.

If you want to know what Hillary’s strategist, Harold Ickes, might whisper in the ears of superdelegates if she decides to stay in and fight, here is a good taste. Nothing quite beats Paul Begala lecturing Donna Brazile that Democrats can’t win with a coalition of “eggheads and African Americans.” After that exchange, you can probably add one more superdelegate (Brazile) to the Obama column. Gotta love that Clinton light touch.

But before Republicans get excited about the possibilty of vicious infighting that will torment Democrats, those Republicans should keep in mind two things. First, eventually there will be a nominee (whether May or June or August) and a final night of the convention where everyone will raise hands together and declare undying loyalty. Most of those Clinton supporters, especially ones committed enough to vote in a primary, will vote Democratic in November. And there are a lot more registered Democrats than there used to be.

Second, Obama is a fast learner. His speech last night included a heavy dose of heartfelt appreciation for America, reverence for the land of opportunity and lots of empathy for working class voters. Like a vacuum cleaner, he is sucking up the Clintonian message to blue collar voters and absorbing the rhetoric which has successfully lured a coalition of working class whites, seniors and women. Don’t expect any more Snobgate slip-ups.

In short, the fun for conservatives is at an end.

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We’ve Been Down This Road Before

One of the complaints about Hillary’s candidacy is that another Clinton presidency would put us through four (or eight) more years of drama. The tale of Bill and Hillary is always one of angst, lies, and betrayal–the stuff of bad soap operas. And the campaign so far has been emotionally exhausting: gaffes from Bill, Hillary’s tall tales, staff members publicly at each other’s throats.

But now that we’ve seen Barack and Michelle Obama in action, it’s not clear an Obama presidency would be any better: the ministers, the left-wing extremists, the put-upon wife, the imperious husband, each day’s perceived racial slight. What’s more, we have already seen that at an extremely young age Obama wrote a book about . . . well, about himself. But unlike most memoirs, which recount great successes and professional and personal achievements, he hadn’t done much of note at the time. His personal identity drama was and still is his obsession–and could be America’s as well, come November. Is that a huge improvement on Clintonian psychodrama?

One of the complaints about Hillary’s candidacy is that another Clinton presidency would put us through four (or eight) more years of drama. The tale of Bill and Hillary is always one of angst, lies, and betrayal–the stuff of bad soap operas. And the campaign so far has been emotionally exhausting: gaffes from Bill, Hillary’s tall tales, staff members publicly at each other’s throats.

But now that we’ve seen Barack and Michelle Obama in action, it’s not clear an Obama presidency would be any better: the ministers, the left-wing extremists, the put-upon wife, the imperious husband, each day’s perceived racial slight. What’s more, we have already seen that at an extremely young age Obama wrote a book about . . . well, about himself. But unlike most memoirs, which recount great successes and professional and personal achievements, he hadn’t done much of note at the time. His personal identity drama was and still is his obsession–and could be America’s as well, come November. Is that a huge improvement on Clintonian psychodrama?

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It’s All Gone

The radiant charm; the verbal agility; the promise of change; the post-racial unity; the deferential press; and most importantly, the vagueness of character and intent that sustained the whole façade. These were the hallmarks of Barack Obama’s run for the Democratic nomination, and bit-by-bit, associate-by-associate, gaffe-by-gaffe, the junior senator from Illinois has given all of it back. The extraordinary bounty that had made his campaign a nearly unstoppable force of nature is gone.

With last Sunday’s revelation—that he looks at smalltown America and finds armed, hate-filled, irredentist religious zealots—the last piece of the Obama puzzle fell into place. He is not, it turns out, an agent of change; he is a walking checklist of modern liberal inanities. Big government: check. Crippling taxes: check. Arrogance: check. Identity divisiveness: check. Moral superiority: check. Softness on enemies: check. Shakiness on Israel: check. Questionable patriotism: check.

Half a year ago, the formula for a serious journalistic portrait of Barack Obama was as follows: one extra long cosmetic description, one detailed childhood recap, some praise for his efforts as a memoirist, and a closing discussion of a nation poised for change. No one knew enough about the man’s politics to delve further. However, in the course of a few months he has created a resume of mistakes that’s left the content of those early articles looking as relevant as the lines on a printer test. Today’s Obama portrait is of a man embattled, a candidate whose repeatedly faulty judgment demands explanation.

Yet, the math is the math is the math, and as we know the superdelegates are his to lose. While they may now realize they’ve thrown in their lot with the dazzling candidate from a few months ago, turning their backs on the candidate who can’t stop fumbling today could cause a scandal—one perhaps even bigger than the scandals repeatedly served up by Hillary and Obama. However, it’s a scandal the party leadership may decide to weather, because the man who has at last filled out the empty suit has turned out to be very very beatable.

The radiant charm; the verbal agility; the promise of change; the post-racial unity; the deferential press; and most importantly, the vagueness of character and intent that sustained the whole façade. These were the hallmarks of Barack Obama’s run for the Democratic nomination, and bit-by-bit, associate-by-associate, gaffe-by-gaffe, the junior senator from Illinois has given all of it back. The extraordinary bounty that had made his campaign a nearly unstoppable force of nature is gone.

With last Sunday’s revelation—that he looks at smalltown America and finds armed, hate-filled, irredentist religious zealots—the last piece of the Obama puzzle fell into place. He is not, it turns out, an agent of change; he is a walking checklist of modern liberal inanities. Big government: check. Crippling taxes: check. Arrogance: check. Identity divisiveness: check. Moral superiority: check. Softness on enemies: check. Shakiness on Israel: check. Questionable patriotism: check.

Half a year ago, the formula for a serious journalistic portrait of Barack Obama was as follows: one extra long cosmetic description, one detailed childhood recap, some praise for his efforts as a memoirist, and a closing discussion of a nation poised for change. No one knew enough about the man’s politics to delve further. However, in the course of a few months he has created a resume of mistakes that’s left the content of those early articles looking as relevant as the lines on a printer test. Today’s Obama portrait is of a man embattled, a candidate whose repeatedly faulty judgment demands explanation.

Yet, the math is the math is the math, and as we know the superdelegates are his to lose. While they may now realize they’ve thrown in their lot with the dazzling candidate from a few months ago, turning their backs on the candidate who can’t stop fumbling today could cause a scandal—one perhaps even bigger than the scandals repeatedly served up by Hillary and Obama. However, it’s a scandal the party leadership may decide to weather, because the man who has at last filled out the empty suit has turned out to be very very beatable.

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The Great Uniters

The Clintons are indeed the great uniters. Consider the variety of Americans who’ve come together in response to the words and deeds of Bill and Hillary:

In Nevada, blacks turned on them. In Virginia, Hispanics, white males, women, and older voters decided they had enough, too. In Maryland, the unity was evidenced as well and Democrats across all social and economic strata made their common cause known.

I daresay the U.S. hasn’t seen such singularity of purpose since being attacked over six years ago. These disparate Americans have in some sense responded to Bill’s Harlem office, Hillary’s black southern accent, Hillary’s Hispanic Nevada strategy, and the like: They’ve walked away en masse from the Clinton identity shell game. In so doing they have ushered in a new age of American politics defined by voters who actually vote beyond considerations of race, creed, and gender.

So, in fact the Clintons have done an historical service to the cause of bridging demographic divides. Not—as they’d have it—because Bill sets up shop in Harlem, or because Hillary jams three black people into the front row of events, or because she claims to have “found her voice,” or because Bill was “the first black president,” but because Democrats of all stripes have agreed that they’re sick of the pandering and manipulation. Bill and Hillary have managed to close the gender gap, the generation gap, the wealth gap, and the racial divide. Like all great figures, their contribution has come at great personal cost. Let’s hope the two of them can find some measure of peace with the magnitude of their success.

The Clintons are indeed the great uniters. Consider the variety of Americans who’ve come together in response to the words and deeds of Bill and Hillary:

In Nevada, blacks turned on them. In Virginia, Hispanics, white males, women, and older voters decided they had enough, too. In Maryland, the unity was evidenced as well and Democrats across all social and economic strata made their common cause known.

I daresay the U.S. hasn’t seen such singularity of purpose since being attacked over six years ago. These disparate Americans have in some sense responded to Bill’s Harlem office, Hillary’s black southern accent, Hillary’s Hispanic Nevada strategy, and the like: They’ve walked away en masse from the Clinton identity shell game. In so doing they have ushered in a new age of American politics defined by voters who actually vote beyond considerations of race, creed, and gender.

So, in fact the Clintons have done an historical service to the cause of bridging demographic divides. Not—as they’d have it—because Bill sets up shop in Harlem, or because Hillary jams three black people into the front row of events, or because she claims to have “found her voice,” or because Bill was “the first black president,” but because Democrats of all stripes have agreed that they’re sick of the pandering and manipulation. Bill and Hillary have managed to close the gender gap, the generation gap, the wealth gap, and the racial divide. Like all great figures, their contribution has come at great personal cost. Let’s hope the two of them can find some measure of peace with the magnitude of their success.

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Not Chelsea . . .

There’s something depressing about Chelsea Clinton having been suddenly called upon to expand her role in Hillary’s campaign. Up until now Chelsea seemed to represent the one untainted region of the Clinton sphere. And one liked to believe that her previous media shyness (she refused to talk to the press) on the campaign trail came from a personal determination not to be sullied with the muck of her parents’ calling.

But now it looks as if Chelsea was merely being kept in the back of the Clinton arsenal, only to be used in the event of a genuine Obama showdown. It’s Chelsea’s mission to grab some of the Obama youth vote. The Daily News reports that she’s on a kind of college tour, including a recent stop at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. She has also been calling superdelegateas on her mother’s behalf.

Bill and Hillary are notoriously opinion-obsessed, and are well aware that Chelsea is probably the only Clinton left whose poll numbers show consistent low negatives. Here’s the Daily News:

Peter Ragone, a Democratic consultant who volunteered for the Clinton campaign in California and arranged several of Chelsea Clinton’s appearances there, said the former First Daughter is remarkably popular.

“What kept happening, which was astounding, is you’d expect 25 people and 200 would show up,” he said.

Chelsea is the last of her clan capable of evoking sympathy, which is why it’s a little heartbreaking to see her PR approach turn on a dime.

There’s something depressing about Chelsea Clinton having been suddenly called upon to expand her role in Hillary’s campaign. Up until now Chelsea seemed to represent the one untainted region of the Clinton sphere. And one liked to believe that her previous media shyness (she refused to talk to the press) on the campaign trail came from a personal determination not to be sullied with the muck of her parents’ calling.

But now it looks as if Chelsea was merely being kept in the back of the Clinton arsenal, only to be used in the event of a genuine Obama showdown. It’s Chelsea’s mission to grab some of the Obama youth vote. The Daily News reports that she’s on a kind of college tour, including a recent stop at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. She has also been calling superdelegateas on her mother’s behalf.

Bill and Hillary are notoriously opinion-obsessed, and are well aware that Chelsea is probably the only Clinton left whose poll numbers show consistent low negatives. Here’s the Daily News:

Peter Ragone, a Democratic consultant who volunteered for the Clinton campaign in California and arranged several of Chelsea Clinton’s appearances there, said the former First Daughter is remarkably popular.

“What kept happening, which was astounding, is you’d expect 25 people and 200 would show up,” he said.

Chelsea is the last of her clan capable of evoking sympathy, which is why it’s a little heartbreaking to see her PR approach turn on a dime.

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The Real Clinton Divide

Barack Obama’s victory speech in South Carolina last night was a visual and rhetorical masterpiece. His gaze literally fixed on some imaginary horizon, his chin raised as if to clear the shoulder-high muck of the past few weeks, the senator spoke of a newly united electorate with a confidence that suggested history in real-time. Obama’s vision of a pluralistic America with a shared will manages to rouse beyond the expected levels of mushy melting-pot sentiment. The senator constructs his unity dream from a real world blueprint, creating the most important effect for any running politician: you want to believe him.

Whether you bought this practical utopianism or you didn’t, the speech was a poetic triumph of the grand over the petty. Without ever saying their names, Obama shamed the Clintons. His high road was so elevated that Bill and Hillary’s malignant sniping and race-tactics seemed unreal by comparison. He made fellowship shine where division repulses, and redefined effortless in the process.

So, what does it mean that Bill Clinton answered ABC News’ David Wright’s question about Obama’s win with: “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in ’84 and ’88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here”? We know the divide-and-conquer approach at work here. If the Clintons can split the vote down black-white lines, Hillary will win through sheer mathematics, as white voters outnumber their black counterparts. But the Clintons have been so thoroughly exposed (and seemingly punished) for exploiting race, one would think Bill would attempt to cloak this strategy. The fact that he didn’t means one of two things: either the Clintons are so cocooned from public sentiment that they exist in a reality of their own making, or they’ve finally admitted that venom is their medium and embraced it without apology. That’s the real Clinton choice. Both options are equally chilling.

Barack Obama’s victory speech in South Carolina last night was a visual and rhetorical masterpiece. His gaze literally fixed on some imaginary horizon, his chin raised as if to clear the shoulder-high muck of the past few weeks, the senator spoke of a newly united electorate with a confidence that suggested history in real-time. Obama’s vision of a pluralistic America with a shared will manages to rouse beyond the expected levels of mushy melting-pot sentiment. The senator constructs his unity dream from a real world blueprint, creating the most important effect for any running politician: you want to believe him.

Whether you bought this practical utopianism or you didn’t, the speech was a poetic triumph of the grand over the petty. Without ever saying their names, Obama shamed the Clintons. His high road was so elevated that Bill and Hillary’s malignant sniping and race-tactics seemed unreal by comparison. He made fellowship shine where division repulses, and redefined effortless in the process.

So, what does it mean that Bill Clinton answered ABC News’ David Wright’s question about Obama’s win with: “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in ’84 and ’88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here”? We know the divide-and-conquer approach at work here. If the Clintons can split the vote down black-white lines, Hillary will win through sheer mathematics, as white voters outnumber their black counterparts. But the Clintons have been so thoroughly exposed (and seemingly punished) for exploiting race, one would think Bill would attempt to cloak this strategy. The fact that he didn’t means one of two things: either the Clintons are so cocooned from public sentiment that they exist in a reality of their own making, or they’ve finally admitted that venom is their medium and embraced it without apology. That’s the real Clinton choice. Both options are equally chilling.

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Bad Medicine for Obama

At townhall.com, R. Emmett Tyrrell thinks he has the prescription for a winning Obama campaign:

Obama introduced two themes, both closely related. He asseverated that the Clintons represent all the bitterness associated with “the baby boomers” in politics. That they do. In recent weeks, we have tasted that bitterness all over again. What is more, with great subtlety, Obama brought up “the 1990s.” Hesto presto — the Clinton lead vanished among the Democrats, who supposedly adore the Clintons. As Democratic primary voters now have fresh evidence of the Clintons’ dirty tricks and bitter charges, Obama should revert to these themes. He now finds himself on the defensive in the rancorous atmosphere that the Clintons apparently thrive in. Obama should return to the high ground where he already has hurt Hillary badly.

Things aren’t that easy. If it was simply a matter of pointing to Bill and Hillary and saying, “Exhibits A and B,” the two of them would have been booed off the stage a decade ago. Tyrrell ignores the fact that the Clinton sociopathy he calls “bitterness” is thought of by most Democratic voters as an insignificant imperfection, while the rest label it “charm.” Has he forgotten that Bill Clinton’s perjury and other acts of malfeaseance were considered a necessary defense against a phalanx of cruel conspirers? The more Obama calls attention to the 1990′s, the more nostalgic Democratic voters will get. They view Slick Willie not with disgust but reverence.

At townhall.com, R. Emmett Tyrrell thinks he has the prescription for a winning Obama campaign:

Obama introduced two themes, both closely related. He asseverated that the Clintons represent all the bitterness associated with “the baby boomers” in politics. That they do. In recent weeks, we have tasted that bitterness all over again. What is more, with great subtlety, Obama brought up “the 1990s.” Hesto presto — the Clinton lead vanished among the Democrats, who supposedly adore the Clintons. As Democratic primary voters now have fresh evidence of the Clintons’ dirty tricks and bitter charges, Obama should revert to these themes. He now finds himself on the defensive in the rancorous atmosphere that the Clintons apparently thrive in. Obama should return to the high ground where he already has hurt Hillary badly.

Things aren’t that easy. If it was simply a matter of pointing to Bill and Hillary and saying, “Exhibits A and B,” the two of them would have been booed off the stage a decade ago. Tyrrell ignores the fact that the Clinton sociopathy he calls “bitterness” is thought of by most Democratic voters as an insignificant imperfection, while the rest label it “charm.” Has he forgotten that Bill Clinton’s perjury and other acts of malfeaseance were considered a necessary defense against a phalanx of cruel conspirers? The more Obama calls attention to the 1990′s, the more nostalgic Democratic voters will get. They view Slick Willie not with disgust but reverence.

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Still More Clinton Collapse

As things get desperate, the Clinton campaign is taking on Brittany Spears-like media undulations. Fox News reports that former Bill Clinton advisors James Carville and Paul Begala have been added to Hillary’s team.

Carville and Begala will serve as top strategists on politics and communication and likely overshadow the current role of Mark Penn, Hillary’s senior strategist, and Patty Solis Doyle, Hillary’s current campaign manager.

Yet, when contacted, Carville had this to say:

Fox was, is and will continue to be an asinine and ignorant network. I have not spoken to anyone in the Clinton campaign about this. I have not done domestic political consulting since President Clinton was elected. I’m not getting back into domestic political consulting. If I do go back, it would be safe to say that I’m the biggest liar in America.

Hail Marys, rumors, and denials. The machine that turned image management into religion and redefined spin has lost control. If Carville and Begala do come back it should be noted that Hillary can’t very well continue to call herself an agent of change by bringing in the old guard to steady the ship.

As things get desperate, the Clinton campaign is taking on Brittany Spears-like media undulations. Fox News reports that former Bill Clinton advisors James Carville and Paul Begala have been added to Hillary’s team.

Carville and Begala will serve as top strategists on politics and communication and likely overshadow the current role of Mark Penn, Hillary’s senior strategist, and Patty Solis Doyle, Hillary’s current campaign manager.

Yet, when contacted, Carville had this to say:

Fox was, is and will continue to be an asinine and ignorant network. I have not spoken to anyone in the Clinton campaign about this. I have not done domestic political consulting since President Clinton was elected. I’m not getting back into domestic political consulting. If I do go back, it would be safe to say that I’m the biggest liar in America.

Hail Marys, rumors, and denials. The machine that turned image management into religion and redefined spin has lost control. If Carville and Begala do come back it should be noted that Hillary can’t very well continue to call herself an agent of change by bringing in the old guard to steady the ship.

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More Clinton Collapse

ABC News has video of a run-down, rambling Bill Clinton unloading on Barack Obama. When asked about Hillary strategist Mark Penn’s premature claim that Obama got no “bounce” coming out of Iowa, the former President came close to a meltdown.

“Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairytale I’ve ever seen,” he said. Which explains exactly why he and Hillary are so unable to cope with the Obama phenomenon: they had thought they had foisted the biggest fairytale upon the American public. As it turns out, the Clintons are being out-Clintoned. Bill went on:

The idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that’s in the media doesn’t mean the facts aren’t out there.

Sanitizing coverage? This from the man whose perceived right to perjury launched an entire political force—moveon.org. At some point, the Clintons’ lurid exit from the world stage will cease to be delicious, but not quite yet.

Slate, by the way, has some valuable counterpoints to these Clinton claims.

ABC News has video of a run-down, rambling Bill Clinton unloading on Barack Obama. When asked about Hillary strategist Mark Penn’s premature claim that Obama got no “bounce” coming out of Iowa, the former President came close to a meltdown.

“Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairytale I’ve ever seen,” he said. Which explains exactly why he and Hillary are so unable to cope with the Obama phenomenon: they had thought they had foisted the biggest fairytale upon the American public. As it turns out, the Clintons are being out-Clintoned. Bill went on:

The idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that’s in the media doesn’t mean the facts aren’t out there.

Sanitizing coverage? This from the man whose perceived right to perjury launched an entire political force—moveon.org. At some point, the Clintons’ lurid exit from the world stage will cease to be delicious, but not quite yet.

Slate, by the way, has some valuable counterpoints to these Clinton claims.

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Hot Air in Aspen

Imagine going to the Heritage Foundation to see Ronald Reagan in the late 1980’s. Or listening to Margaret Thatcher at a National Review dinner at around the same time. Or applauding Charlton Heston at the NRA’s annual meeting. This must be the feeling that liberals get during a week of activities at the Aspen Festival of Ideas. A mix of political camaraderie, self-righteousness, and triumphalism oozed from every panel discussion and roundtable.

Only in its third year, this week-long conference, co-sponsored by the Atlantic Monthly and the Aspen Institute, has quickly established itself as the intellectual Woodstock for the wealthy and well-meaning. Bill Clinton made his annual pilgrimage—Aspen is his new Renaissance festival, apparently—and was reliably greeted as healer and seer for those who have had to endure two terms of Republican rule. This year Hillary joined him for some nighttime high-dollar fund-raising. The old Clinton crowd showed up, too: there rarely seemed to be a panel without Rahm Emmanuel, Gene Sperling, Madeline Albright, David Gergen, or Justice Stephen Breyer. True, there were a few Republicans thrown in for appearances, but mostly of the safe variety: Colin Powell or Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. Karl Rove showed up on the final day for a ritual yet respectful skewering, just so everyone could feel bi-partisan and open-minded.

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Imagine going to the Heritage Foundation to see Ronald Reagan in the late 1980’s. Or listening to Margaret Thatcher at a National Review dinner at around the same time. Or applauding Charlton Heston at the NRA’s annual meeting. This must be the feeling that liberals get during a week of activities at the Aspen Festival of Ideas. A mix of political camaraderie, self-righteousness, and triumphalism oozed from every panel discussion and roundtable.

Only in its third year, this week-long conference, co-sponsored by the Atlantic Monthly and the Aspen Institute, has quickly established itself as the intellectual Woodstock for the wealthy and well-meaning. Bill Clinton made his annual pilgrimage—Aspen is his new Renaissance festival, apparently—and was reliably greeted as healer and seer for those who have had to endure two terms of Republican rule. This year Hillary joined him for some nighttime high-dollar fund-raising. The old Clinton crowd showed up, too: there rarely seemed to be a panel without Rahm Emmanuel, Gene Sperling, Madeline Albright, David Gergen, or Justice Stephen Breyer. True, there were a few Republicans thrown in for appearances, but mostly of the safe variety: Colin Powell or Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. Karl Rove showed up on the final day for a ritual yet respectful skewering, just so everyone could feel bi-partisan and open-minded.

But what struck me in the four days of sessions I attended was not Bush-hatred (or any particular display of partisanship), but rather the insipid and anodyne quality of the ideas under such grave discussion. After just two days, it was clear that the assembled crowd of the good and the great strongly believed that teachers should be paid more, that more investments need to be made in early childhood education, that energy and environment issues ought to be at the top of the national agenda, and that far too many college graduates want to become hedge fund managers. In dozens of panels, there were certainly exceptions, but I would refer anyone interested to the Aspen Festival blog posts by Ross Douthat, whose dry yet incisive commentaries captured the hollowness of this gathering of worthies.

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Hillary’s Time Tunnel, Episode 3

Can one go back into the past and alter the course of history? The Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee has released its own remake of Hillary’s favorite show, The Time Tunnel. Starring Bill Clinton, it is now available here on YouTube.

In this latest episode—click here for episode one, and here for episode two—Bill Clinton enters the Time Tunnel and alters key happenings in Hillary’s life and career, long before she became a United States Senator and long before he became President.

The drama opens with Bill journeying across his own memories to the moment he met Hillary thirty-five years ago. We see her progress from law school to a career in public service—working for the Children’s Defense Fund and then the House Judiciary Committee. Foreshadowing events that would occur decades later, we then see Hillary following Bill to Arkansas as he became a devoted “public servant” while she taught in the local law school and set up a legal-aid clinic for poor people.

Suspense builds as history takes an astonishing turn in a direction starkly different from the way things happened the first time around. Thanks to the Time Tunnel, Hillary’s years working within the Rose law firm in Little Rock are erased. In an unexpected turn of events, her close friend and law partner Vincent Foster will never come to take his own life; her other close friend and law partner Webster Hubbell will never become a ranking official in the Justice Department and then a convicted felon. Hillary does not join them both in litigating against low-income consumers in a utility-rate case. Hubbell does not later recall, as he would in his memoirs, that “instead of defending poor people and righting wrongs, we found ourselves squarely on the side of corporate greed against the little people.” Read More

Can one go back into the past and alter the course of history? The Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee has released its own remake of Hillary’s favorite show, The Time Tunnel. Starring Bill Clinton, it is now available here on YouTube.

In this latest episode—click here for episode one, and here for episode two—Bill Clinton enters the Time Tunnel and alters key happenings in Hillary’s life and career, long before she became a United States Senator and long before he became President.

The drama opens with Bill journeying across his own memories to the moment he met Hillary thirty-five years ago. We see her progress from law school to a career in public service—working for the Children’s Defense Fund and then the House Judiciary Committee. Foreshadowing events that would occur decades later, we then see Hillary following Bill to Arkansas as he became a devoted “public servant” while she taught in the local law school and set up a legal-aid clinic for poor people.

Suspense builds as history takes an astonishing turn in a direction starkly different from the way things happened the first time around. Thanks to the Time Tunnel, Hillary’s years working within the Rose law firm in Little Rock are erased. In an unexpected turn of events, her close friend and law partner Vincent Foster will never come to take his own life; her other close friend and law partner Webster Hubbell will never become a ranking official in the Justice Department and then a convicted felon. Hillary does not join them both in litigating against low-income consumers in a utility-rate case. Hubbell does not later recall, as he would in his memoirs, that “instead of defending poor people and righting wrongs, we found ourselves squarely on the side of corporate greed against the little people.”

The action then shifts to the climactic years at the White House. “Everyone knows,” says Bill, “that when I was in the White House and Hillary was the First Lady, she led our efforts to try to get health care for all Americans. And everyone knows we didn’t succeed.” As for what he himself was up to, we are given to understand that he was a faithful husband to his beloved First Lady. We are not shown the fateful moment in the White House alcove where Monica reveals her thong. In this version of the past, it would seem that Bill immediately said to the chubby intern, “thanks but no thanks”—and strutted off to the Oval Office to plot attacks on al Qaeda.

Alas, those who enter the Time Tunnel never ever succeed in altering the course of history; only some insignificant details can be changed. On September 11, 2001, 9/11 happened exactly on schedule. At 8:46 AM, a Boeing 767 aircraft crashed into the northern side of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Hillary ran for a second term in the Senate and won. Now she is running for President. Will the Time Tunnel give her a chance? Or will Whitewater and/or the vast right-wing conspiracy reemerge? Despite the best efforts of her Exploratory Committee, the Time Tunnel can neither help nor halt her. To find out what will happen next in this thrilling show, be sure to stay tuned.

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