For an experienced politician who crowed "I'm the only candidate ready to hit the ground running from day one!" Hillary Rodham Clinton was clearly not ready for Iowa. Barring a miracle, Barack Obama's insistence on taking the high road, his message of hope and the promise of real change will win the day in Clinton's "firewall" New Hampshire as well.
The Obama Effect is proving to be more a movement than a campaign. And it's moved Hillary to both emotional outbursts and attack mode, some of it wrapped in the same speechifying. If Bill Clinton "felt our pain", Hillary is asking us to feel hers--while the claws come out.
The pillaging of Clinton invincibility was the result of no insurgency, no frontal attack by a more powerful enemy, no sly rebel sniper lying in wait to take her out. The Clinton wounds are self-inflicted: A tin ear for what the public might really want in new leadership. Macho-posturing to prove she has bigger b--, no, let's be civil and call it more "testicular fortitude" than any man on the campaign trail. She wanted to prove she can roll right over the big boys. She's hard. She's tough. She can fight this war with the best of 'em. She can beat 'em. Anywhere. Any time.
She invoked the bloodied ghosts of Partisan Wars Past. She's survived those attacks; she knows how to give as good as she gets. She can draw blood and that makes her the only real winner among Democratic hopefuls. They lack her experience. They're all pretty words and no action. Change? Not as important as Experience in D.C. Hope? Get real. This is war, you silly idealists, and the battle-hardened veteran is the only logical choice.
America heard you, Hillary. And it seems what America heard was more of the same old angry gridlock waiting to happen. Battle lines are drawn. The enemy is identified. We elect the gal who's kept her hands fisted, jabbing, jabbing, looking for the glass jaw, going hard for the knock-out punch.
It's not over yet. Democratic insiders, the power brokers, have been soldily tied to the Clinton War Camp. The dogs of the War Room, Bill and Carville, will have their day. The machine may emerge intact and muscle you farther down Primary Road. But the people, Hillary, are telling you something.
We don't like the tactics and we don't like the message. We're war-weary. We're sick of Iraq and we're just as sick of the Capitol Hill/Oval Office warfare that's been raging since the '90s. We don't want that old baggage back in the White House. We really do want change we can believe in. We really do believe we are better than this; that we can still set aside our partisan differences, stop the smears and the name-calling and invest our energy in the common good of a decent nation. We want idealism again--we're worth it. We want hope and we want a president who knows what's worth fighting for and what isn't. We want communication and progress, not a bloodsport.
America heard you. Do you hear us?