How is it that Hillary, supposedly hopelessly behind, looks like the winner?
Maureen Dowd remarks
on the strange emerging aspect of the Democratic race that I’ve also been picking up on during the last week (and not from tv, which I haven’t been watching, but simply from photos):
Maybe I’ve been reading too many stories about the fad of teenage vampire chick lit, worlds filled with parasitic aliens and demi-human creatures, but there’s something eerie going on in this race.
Hillary grows more and more glowy as Obama grows more and more wan.
Is she draining him of his precious bodily fluids? Leeching his magic? Siphoning off his aura?
It used to be that he was incandescent and she was merely inveterate. Now she’s bristling with life force, and he looks like he wants to run away somewhere for three months by himself and smoke.
Hillary is not getting much sleep or exercise, and doesn’t, like the ascetic Obama, abstain from junk food and coffee and get up at dawn to work out on the road. She’s still a long shot and she’s 14 years older than her rival.
Yet she’s the one who is more energetic and focused and beaming, and he’s the one who seems uneven and gauzy, often fatigued and unable to disguise being fed up with the slog. Even his speeches don’t have the same pizazz.
Maybe it’s because Obama’s famous glow had been connected with his being a magical figure, untouched by ordinary human limitations and flaws, and thus (his supporters, the media, and even lots of conservatives believed) endowed with the godlike capacity to transform America by his sheer presence. Now that lots of real and very unpleasant things have come out about him, many of them through his own appalling statements, how can he gain back the magic aura that was the basis of his success? His rise was founded on unreality from the start.
Obama may turn out to be the latest incarnation of that classic American figure, Jay Gatsby, emerging out of nowhere to astonishing success, and vanishing just as quickly, since he is constructed of nothing but dreams.
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In his column yesterday, Bob Herbert of the Times had similar observations to Dowd’s. And notice that Herbert, a career black victimologist, blames Obama’s problems primarily on Obama:
Barack Obama is winning, so why does it look like Hillary Clinton is having all the fun?
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Senator Obama has been thrown completely off his game by a combination of political attacks (some fair, some foul), a toxic eruption (the volcanic Jeremiah Wright was a gift from the gods to the Clintons and the G.O.P.), and some pretty serious self-inflicted wounds.
You can almost feel the air seeping out of the Obama phenomenon. The candidate and his aides are brainstorming ways to counter the Clinton death-ray machine and regain the momentum. They need to generate some new excitement and enthusiasm, and they need to do it soon.
Despite all the new voters who have been brought into the process, Democrats are filled with anxiety about their prospects in November. A nervous operative told me on Friday: “If we lose this election, it would be like Johnson losing to Goldwater.”…
What we’re witnessing here—in what was supposed to have been a championship season for Democrats—is a potential train wreck. And it can’t all be blamed on the Clintons.
However one views the behavior of Bill and Hillary Clinton—and however large the race issue looms in this election, and it looms large—there can be no denying that an awful lot of Mr. Obama’s troubles have come from his side of the table. The Rev. Wright fiasco undermined the fundamental rationale of the entire Obama campaign—that it would be about healing, about putting partisanship aside, about reaching across ethnic and party divisions to bring people together in a new era of cooperation. [Emphasis added.]
It’s hard to continue making that case when the candidate’s spiritual adviser is on television castigating America and scaring the hell out of at least some white people. Senator Obama did his best with his speech on race in Philadelphia, but the Wright story has extremely muscular legs. It has hurt the campaign far more than Mr. Obama’s comments about guns and religion in San Francisco.
But more important than the Wright comments—and sundry gaffes by Mr. Obama himself, his wife, Michelle, and campaign aides—has been Senator Obama’s strange reluctance to fight harder in public for the nomination. He may feel he doesn’t need to, that he has the nomination wrapped up. But there is such a thing as being too cool.
Hillary Clinton may be behind, and she may lose. But she is now widely seen as the tougher of the two candidates, the one who is more resolute, who will fight harder and longer (and, yes, more unscrupulously) to achieve her desired ends.
An edge in toughness is hardly a good quality to cede to your opponent….
Adela G. writes:
Like you, I’ve noticed from photographs, not TV, that lately Hillary looks tired but utterly delighted and invigorated by her recent win. Meanwhile Obama looks strained and uncertain. She certainly has the will to win and though I could never approve of a Clintonian presidency, I do approve of her fighting spirit. By contrast, the now-ashen Obama seems not to have gumption to fight.
Obama is discovering that Hillary isn’t a typical white person, after all, she’s more like a great white shark. It seems it’s easier for Obama to throw his white grandmother under the bus than it is for him to steamroll over Hillary. She’s sticking to her guns, not clinging to them.
Underlying this impression is my suspicion he believed that he’d never really have to fight for the nomination, that once his viability as a candidate became apparent, the nomination would be his by right. Frankly, as much as I loathed seeing him all triumphant, I despise him even more now for seeming so lackluster and hangdog. Everyone knows how negative and nasty the Clintons are. He doesn’t need to refute their accusations and innuendos, he only needs to demonstrate he can stand up against the onslaught. Instead, he just looks wilted. All this despite being treated by the media with a deference I don’t recall being extended toward any other presidential candidate.
“She’s sticking to her guns, not clinging to them.”
I never said Obama was not inspirational.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 27, 2008 06:34 AM | Send