Hillary's Fine Line

01/21/2007 03:32 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This is going to be really hard for her. On the one hand, she needs to counter her image as a cold, calculating, ambitious devil-woman with gauzy warm fuzzies--as in that cozy living room announcement of her inclusive hug-us-all presidential candidacy. On the other hand, she has to show she's tough enough to be Commander-in-Chief in The Age of Terror--as in her carefully crafted policy announcement after she returned from Iraq (raise your hand if you thought she was going to "decide" that the surge was a good idea).

Forget the obvious substantive problem--namely, that she's so obviously trimming her war position in a cold and calculating effort to further her long term political ambitions--forget that. The more serious problem in the long run is that, in the latter context, she had to look and act as if she was ready to cut Maliki off at the knees if he didn't step up and meet the series of benchmarks she was willing and able to lay out there like some nightmare Headmistress reading the riot act to her field hockey team for drinking on the bus.

This is going to be a problem. This is a very fine line. Somehow she has to find a way to be both of those Hillaries. In fact--ultimate irony--she probably actually is both of those Hillaries. But is she method actor enough to make it publicly convincing?

I doubt it.

On the other hand--there's Obama. Now there's a method actor.