Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Fall and Rise of Hillary Clinton.

Cross posted at Mydd.

I apologize in advance, there will not be a lot of original thought in this diary.  But I just read an incredible article in New York magazine about HRC and the primary and had to share.  It is a very interesting, intimate and in my opinion poignant look at the candidate.  Oh and the pictures are awesome!

Below are some of my favourite bits:

What strikes me as inarguable is that Hillary is today a more resonant, consequential, and potent figure than she has ever been before. No longer merely a political persona, she has been elevated to a rarefied plane in our cultural consciousness. With her back against the wall, she both found her groove and let loose her raging id, turning herself into a character at once awful and wonderful, confounding and inspiring--thus enlarging herself to the point where she became iconic. She is bigger now than any woman in the country. Certainly, she is bigger than her husband. And although in the end she may wind up being dwarfed by Obama, for the moment she is something he is not: fully, poignantly human.

It was Clinton's lack of faith in her political chops that caused her to be so deeply reliant on her chief strategist, Mark Penn. Penn, after all, had helped her win her Senate seat in 2000 when many said that it was impossible, just as he'd aided her husband in securing reelection in 1996 in less-than-promising circumstances. Penn was convinced that Hillary had to run as the candidate of strength; that she should focus relentlessly on her ruggedness and résumé, on her ready-from-day-one-ness. He argued strenuously that the most significant hurdle she would have to surmount was the doubt that a woman was capable of being commander-in-chief. Clinton came to agree, and spent more than a year talking of little else.

Hillary's weaknesses on the stump would have been problematic on their own. But they were exacerbated by the strategy that Penn had concocted for her. It was conventional, safe, inherently conservative, and not obviously wrong. It played to what he and many others, including Bill Clinton, perceived as Hillary's advantages. As the architects of her campaign, they believed they were designing a well-appointed estate in which the candidate would be comfortable--but instead it turned out to be a prison, where the iron bars were the leaden rhetoric of "35 years of experience, "ready to lead," yadda yadda yadda. And although it took Hillary some time to realize that she'd allowed herself to be thus incarcerated, realize it she eventually did. The jailbreak she staged came too late to save her from defeat. But not too late to keep her from emerging as a hell of a politician.

By now, as you'd imagine, Hillary's staff has grown accustomed to outbursts from WJC exquisitely timed to wreak maximum havoc with HRC's plans. But when I wander backstage, I find her people in a blue funk. "It's the last day of his wife's campaign, and he couldn't keep a lid on his emotions for her sake," says one aide. "How much more narcissistic can you get?" I ask how Hillary will handle it. "She used to get upset, but at this point, it's been so bad for so long, I think her attitude is, like, Whatever."

Would that be enough for Hillary? It's possible--but not likely. It's now 36 years since Clinton, while she was working in Texas on George McGovern's campaign, was told by her husband's future chief of staff, Betsey Wright, that she might have what it took to be the country's first female president. Dreams held that long are dreams that die hard, especially if they're held as fiercely and tenaciously as Hillary has always held the ambitions that propel her forward. The endless, brutal, wrenching campaign of 2008 would have wrecked a lesser woman. Hillary tells me she feels just fine: "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Spoken like a true Clinton.

Maybe I don't get out much - but I found this piece to be incredibly revealing.  Thoughts?

No comments: