Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Noonan on the lack of Obama/Clinton magic

From this weekend's WSJ...

First, "an overview" of the Democratic race and the need for "magic":

From the first voting in Iowa on Jan. 3 she had to prove that Clintons Are Magic. She wound up losing 11 in a row. Meaning Clintons aren't magic. He had to take her out in New Hampshire, on Super Tuesday or Junior Tuesday. He didn't. Meaning Obama isn't magic.

Two nonmagical beings are left.

What the Democrats lost this week was the chance to paint the '08 campaign as a brilliant Napoleonic twinning of strategy and tactics that left history awed. What they have instead is a ticket to Verdun. Trench warfare, and the daily, wearying life of the soldier under siege. The mud, the cold, the dank water rotting the boots, all of it punctuated by mad cries of "Over the top," bayonets fixed....

What does this mean for McCain?

This is slightly good for John McCain. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama hemorrhage money, exhaust themselves, bloody each other. He holds barbecues for the press and gets rid of a White House appearance in which the incumbent offers his dread embrace. Do it now, they'll forget by the summer. The president does not understand how unpopular he is and after a year on the trail with the faithful neither does Mr. McCain. Mr. Bush confided to a friend a few months ago, as he predicted a Giuliani win, that he'll eventually come out and campaign for the nominee big time. Talk about throwing the drowning man an anvil.

But it is not good for Mr. McCain that when he officially won this week it barely made page three. The lightning is on the Democratic side. Everything else seems old, like something that happened a year ago that you forgot to notice....

Back to Hillary's "comeback" and Obama's "slip" of sorts-- perhaps:

How did Hillary come back? Her own staff doesn't know. They fight over it because if they don't know how she carried Ohio and Texas they can't repeat the strategy.

So they figure backward. She won on Tuesday and did the following things in the weeks before, so . . . it was the kitchen-sink strategy. Or Hispanic outreach. Or the 3 a.m. ad....Did she come back because Mr. Obama's speech got a little boring? Was he coasting and playing it safe? Or was it that he didn't hit her hard enough?...

What if they need to be told exactly what Mr. Obama means when he speaks of the tired old ways of Washington? But voicing the facts would violate party politesse. So he loses the No. 1 case against her. But by losing the No. 1 case, he loses the No. 2 case: that she is the most divisive figure in the country, and that this is true because people have reason to view her as dark, dissembling, thuggish....

What do I think is the biggest reason Mrs. Clinton came back? She kept her own spirits up to the point of denial and worked it, hard, every day. She is hardy, resilient, tough. She is a train on a track, an Iron Horse. But we must not become carried away with generosity. The very qualities that impress us are the qualities that will make her a painful president. She does not care what you think, she will have what she wants, she will not do the feints, pivots and backoffs that presidents must. She is neither nimble nor agile, and she knows best. She will wear a great nation down....

I end with a deadly, deadpan prediction from Christopher Hitchens. Hillary is the next president, he told radio's Hugh Hewitt, because, "there's something horrible and undefeatable about people who have no life except the worship of power . . . people who don't want the meeting to end, the people who just are unstoppable, who only have one focus, no humanity, no character, nothing but the worship of money and power. They win in the end."...Gave me a shudder.


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