"But she breaks just like a little girl"
Bob Dylan: "Just Like A Woman"
Forgive me if I've become so cynical that I mistake a genuine emotional moment for a slick piece of political theatre, but for the past seven years, I've gotten used to listening to "The boy who cried Wolfowitz." Before Hillary's emotional crying game in the middle of a public Q&A, I could swear I saw her reach up and pull a single hair from her nose before the tears began to form. Even the question, "How do you do it," seemed like a plant from a staffer; a trick she has used before. I have difficulty believing that anything that happens in the Clinton campaign goes unscripted. This is the woman that remained stoic even after being publicly humiliated by her husband, and now she tears up saying, "I just don't want to see the country fall back?" If someone spends her entire senate career amassing votes to appear like the "Iron Lady," then you're not allowed to cry when your positions are criticized. And you set yourself apart when you pick a favorite color for your campaign staff to wear. At least we don't have to listen to the wretched Celine Dion tune she had previously selected as her theme song.
Hillary continued to refer to her "35 years in public service." Thirty-five years ago in New Hampshire, the front-runner was Edmund Muskie of Maine and his openly weeping over an editorial that vilified his wife cost him the primary and the nomination. So much for the double standard. Of course, Bill could weep on cue so perhaps it's a shared trait. I don't mind a politician crying. I even find it refreshing. But crying at inappropriate moments is as shallow as laughing at the wrong time; something else Mrs. Clinton does when under pressure. Sure, the guys ganged up on her at the debate, but she gave as good as she got. What raised sympathy was the moderator's remarks to her about other candidates being more likable. Is there a more foolproof way to insult a woman than telling her she is unliked? And would the moderator have framed his remarks the same for the men?
Give credit to the Clintons for being fast learners. In one day, she changed her message from being the tested candidate with all the political experience, to the candidate of "change" who's appeal is to the young. The visage of her Iowa concession speech with a virtual morgue of supporters standing with her, including Bill, Madeline Allbright, and Wesley Clark, had been totally revamped for this evening. No one that stood behind her tonight looked over twenty years old, even though their on-camera hijinx began to distract from the candidate. The original "Comeback Kid," was told to get out of the way, while Hillary said that listening to the people of New Hampshire caused her to "find my own voice." Say what? Where's her "own voice" been for the thirty-five years of political change she continues to mention? It was elaborate stage-management, right down to her notes.
John McCain read an acceptance speech also, but not as well as Hillary. Still, the sight of the winners reading with their heads down made them appear as stiff as Al Gore. The speech of the night, of course, belonged to Obama who did not use notes. Visibly disappointed, Obama delivered another stirring and emotive speech that offered a slogan for the remainder of the campaign; "Yes we can," which was reminiscent of MLK in his prime, and left his audience rapturous. Since Obama spoke before Hillary, I was reminded of the famous story from the Fifties about the fight between Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry over who was going to be the closing act on a rock show. Berry refused to go on before Lewis, so Jerry Lee literally delivered an incendiary performance. At the end of his set, with the crowd going wild, Jerry Lee doused his piano with lighter fluid and set it aflame. As he was leaving the stage, he walked by Chuck Berry in the wings saying, and I'm paraphrasing, "Follow that you sonofabitch." Tonight the part of Jerry Lee Lewis was played by Barack Obama while Hillary sang, "It Goes To Show You Never Can Tell."
So the fight is on and it looks to get quite interesting. Will the Goldwater girl who served on the House Committee to Impeach Nixon change her scarf color from green to pink to appear more vulnerable? After saying that "all candidates records should be open," do we get to see the Rose Law Firm billing statements? Did Bill create sympathy by saying that he couldn't make her younger, or will machine politics yet again vanquish a children's crusade? Since I began with a Dylan quote, allow me to end with another:
"The order is
And the first one now,
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'."