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March 28, 2008

Clintons' "Audacity of Hopelessness"

Roy Meachum

The phrase is not mine. Playing off the title of one of Sen. Barack Obama's books, New York Times' columnist David Brooks strung the words together, which is why they're set in quotes. Running counter to the newspaper's endorsement, he both opposes and doubts Sen. Hillary Clinton's White House quest.


Mr. Brooks joined Wednesday the gang that seriously doubts Mrs. Clinton can possibly gain the Democratic nomination. He mentions a muckety-muck in her campaign that rates her chances at five percent. The unnamed source had that figure doubled before she kicked up the storm by claiming she landed in Bosnia under intense sniper fire.


Mr. Obama's allies didn't have to point out the whopping untruth. The media were there first, parading front pages and news tape clips showing her posturing down the runway, pausing to accept flowers from a girl.


Her lie was meant to buttress claims of battlefield experience, touting her as ready to become the armed forces commander-in-chief; she has constantly preached her opponent is not. It mainly proves she learned, probably at her husband's feet, how to manipulate the facts. That may be unfair. She might have taught him the trick.


Trying desperately for a sweeping mandate from Pennsylvania voters, she told a Pittsburgh radio station interviewer she erred the single time, before a St. Patrick's Day gathering of state Democrats. Mrs. Clinton attempted to "clear the air" for the KDKA audience:


"I did misspeak the other day. This has been a very long campaign. Occasionally, I am a human being like everybody else...I have written about it in my book and talked about it on many other occasions and last week, you know, for the first time in 12 or so years, I misspoke." She made an identical admission to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


The Washington Post's Michael Dobbs pointed out that was less than the truth. He reported at least twice earlier – in Iowa and Texas – she painted a verbal picture of the imminent dangers and the snipers' fire she underwent in Bosnia.


Incidentally, Senator Obama carried out of the two states a greater number of delegates. Defying reality, Mrs. Clinton continues to insist she "won" Texas. In recent days she and her husband, the ex-president, have fiercely fought House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recommendation that unpledged super delegates should endorse their constituents' voting choices.


Moreover, chasing their own tails, the Clintons waged a struggle to install the popular vote as the be-all of the nomination processes. I was left astonished. Her rival leads in that area by at least several hundred thousand. The former First Family obviously prays for the miracle that Mr. Obama fails to receive any votes in the remaining primaries.


Surely a good friend will whisper into the ex-president's ear, and he could relay the startling news to his wife, the Democrats do not work on the winner take-all system; that's the Republicans.


In brief, as I wrote for February 19th's (Obama "Tide"), there remains no way Hillary Clinton can become her party's standard bearer this year. She can try again. She will be only 65 in 2012, after all. That's not what either Clinton expects. They want the whole banana now!


The New York senator – and her not-so-faithful spouse – has operated on the premise she is entitled. That approach cost her dearly early in the race; it still prevails. As the calendar page flipped to 2008, all the "machine" Democrats spread the gospel the erstwhile First Lady was fated to take over her husband's former desk.


While accepted by party organizations, especially in the larger states where they were more organized, the attitude turned off most Democrats and independents. The Clinton camp believes ex-vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro: they want very much to think Mr. Obama has advanced this far only because he's black.


The irony of that situation cannot pass unnoted. Certainly since Franklin Delano Roosevelt offered African Americans protection from the Ku Klux Klan and their Republican cohorts, the Democrats have been able to rely on former slaves' families. For Mr. Roosevelt, they were a vital cornerstone in building his nationwide majority.


If the Clintons and their cronies finagle the process to deny Mr. Obama's leading edge, they risk destroying the party; at least they would make African Americans feel unwelcome. I have not the slightest doubt Hillary Clinton's triumph would convert into victory for the Republicans' candidate-apparent, John McCain. The Times' David Brooks and a gaggle of media folks agree with that conclusion.


A stream of voices has already expressed that fear.


Would someone whisper to Hillary, sitting in the U.S. Senate is not so bad?


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