I filed a column yesterday that the FT will run on Monday (it will be posted on the blog Sunday night), asking what went wrong with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The answer of course is many things, not least Barack Obama, but the thing I focus on is Hillary’s difficulty with seeming genuine—such a contrast with Barack’s seemingly effortless authenticity. So much about her, so much of what she says, seems plotted, rehearsed, and false.
But I wish I had read this excellent article by Gloria Borger in US News first (thanks to Real Clear Politics for the link), because it might have made me tweak my argument somewhat. She concentrates on something very important which I think has been too little commented on–the fact, which is both obvious and astonishing when you think about it, that Hillary evidently does not care for politics.
William Jefferson Clinton, AKA the “Comeback Kid,” survived Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, impeachment, and open-heart surgery. He became a money-raising proposition for conservatives who hated him; a magnet for Democrats who loved his ideas and energy. During campaigns, the incorrigible candidate shook every hand and lingered in every crowd, as if he himself had been waiting hours in line to hear his own speech. Even in the darkest moments, a former staffer recalls, he always believed the sunny leader survives. “Hillary’s husband taught us all that the optimistic, positive candidate is the one who wins,” says a former Bill Clinton aide who supports Hillary Clinton. “He would tell us that constantly. And he was right.”
But there is no joy in Hillaryville. In its place are anger (at the press, for being soft on Barack Obama), angst (at losing 11 straight contests), and apoplexy (at Obama, for daring to challenge a nomination that was supposed to have been wrapped up by now). In an aside at last week’s Ohio debate, Clinton herself noted she hasn’t found much happiness lately. “It’s hard to find time to have fun on the campaign trail,” she said, by way of explaining an anti-Obama screed she had delivered a few days earlier. Translation: This should have been over with already. This wasn’t the plan. I don’t like it.