POLITICS
09/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Anne Fleming: Clinton Held Back In Praise Of Obama

This night was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's. Eyes welled up as she appeared, luminous, still so strangely lit up with loss. There in the stands, gazing at her with adoration, was her husband -- her complex, clearly emotional and, we are assured, still angry, ex-president of a husband -- mouthing "I love you, I love you," as she spoke. Their long, marital dance is just an inextricable part of our national political drama, as it was again this night, with those strange, mumbled endearments.

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What's clear is that there is still a bruised and restless positioning going on with her, as was evident in that speech. (For Kennedy, his 1980 run signaled a hard and irrefutable end of his presidential quest; too much stuff had come up.) Yes, she endorsed Obama--mentioning him at least a dozen times. But what she endorsed was the candidate -- not the man. He had no flesh on him. He was the Democratic candidate, and that was enough for her.

There was no talk of Obama's passions, his career, their shared goals and ideals. Of course, she reaffirmed the big "D" democratic values. We're for the forgotten, the working class not the upper class. We're for energy independence and a restitution of the respect America used to garner around the world, so squandered in the last eight years. We're for health care and hope and change. That's why I ran, she said--underscore "I." She never said that's why Barack Obama is running. It was a passionate but strangely impersonal--almost totally impersonal --endorsement.

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