Obama’s Secret: The Son Bill and Hillary Never Had
Beyond all the attention on the delegate race, what’s the real story behind how Obama unhinged the Clinton campaign?
February 20, 2008
When Hillary Clinton prepared for her race to become the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States in 2008, many considerations entered into the equation. But for all of her and her advisers’ circumspection and penchant to think of all the possibilities, one thought never crossed their minds.
Even though she had been preparing for this campaign for decades, she found herself in the race of her life much earlier than she thought — in the Democratic primaries, not the general election.
Hillary Clinton’s assets are formidable. A brilliant, if steely mind. Decades of experience in hand-to-hand political combat. Unparalleled access to campaign money (or so everybody in her camp thought until recently). And the fact that a woman taking over the highest political office in the land is long overdue.
Add to that 20 years spent full-time, day and night, on building a countrywide network of Democratic Party strategists, fund raisers, policy wonks, activists and consultants.
Her campaign is inspired by the Powell Doctrine, as applied to the art of campaign politics. The Powell Doctrine, as you may remember, is named after General Colin Powell, the former, if failed, U.S. Secretary of State. He was an extremely good soldier (which, in part, explains his failings as a diplomat).
Reflecting on the cardinal event of his generation of military officers, he reflected on the Vietnam fiasco of the 1970s — and came up with three conclusions: If the United States chooses to engage in combat, it should do so only with overwhelming military force, strong political and public support at home — and a clear-cut exit scenario.
On that very score, Hillary Clinton and her advisers believed they had it all figured out. Overwhelming force? Well, let the money talk, they thought all along. Strong support? Her handlers and ex-White House folk are permeating all levels of the party machine. Exit scenario? One — and only one: victory.
In fact, Hillary and her team, for all their externally demonstrated caution, internally believed that, beyond Colin Powell, they had also managed to borrow a page from the foreign policy playbook of the current Bush Administration — by executing a preemptive strike on the other Democratic contenders.
And yet, for all the preparation and intent on letting the money talk, it may not be enough. Instead, it’s back to … law school.
How so? In effect, Hillary finds herself not so much in a race for the White House — but for who will be elected law review president.
It’s a curious thing — that law review. For all the focus on merit, this much sought-after post is usually based on a vote — not purely on grades or a selection by a faculty committee.
And it is the students who vote for one among them to become leader of their school’s law magazine.
The post is often seen as a stepping stone to a high-flying career, whether in law, politics or government.
And sure, the candidates will typically all have excellent academic qualifications. But despite the American penchant for ranking students by their grades, this is not a case of simply putting in the person with the highest grades.
Instead, the top-performing students keen on the job campaign actively for it.
And that’s the race Hillary is in, running for law school review editor — against none other than Barack Obama.
To her great astonishment, and increasing sense of panic, she is beginning to realize that this is no sheer matter of steely will, outstanding intelligence and great rhetorical skills — all of which she possesses.
But that alone, as impressive as it is, is not enough. After all, Obama possesses all the same qualities.
What sets Obama apart, however, is that — on top of all that — he realized that the most important virtue to possess in being the winning candidate is to be not just a super-performer, but a mensch, a personable, agreeable, charming, inspiring human being.
Even though Hillary Clinton has worked on precisely these qualities ever since she saw the meteoric rise of her husband to global heights from the rather obscure political base of Governor of Arkansas, it is definitely not something that comes naturally to her.
If it had been her natural disposition, she — and not her husband — might have become U.S. President back in 1992. She was, and is, certainly much more disciplined than he. But that alone, as she has known all along, is not enough.
That is why she must now feel a tremendous pain — but, unlike in the case of her husband, not the pain of others. Rather, it is her own pain she feels.
For all the diligent and relentless preparations, she is gravely worried that, far from not making it into the run-off for President of the United States, she is not even going to win the race for law review editor against Obama.
Now that turn of events must feel like a true insult to the force of her personality. In looking at Obama, she must feel that she is running against the son she and Bill never had.
And so it may well come down to a great test of her character — now that Obama is breaking away from the field. For her, that would mean “standing by her man” one more time — and supporting the eventual candidacy of this true JFK in multi-color (minus the dalliances).
In looking at Obama, Hillary Clinton must feel truly eerie. It is as if she is running against the son she and Bill never had.
If Obama wins the primary, that would mean Hillary standing by "her man" one more time — and supporting this true JFK in multi-color (minus the dalliances).
Hillary finds herself not so much in a race for the White House — but for who will be elected law review president.
Hillary Clinton is beginning to realize that this race is no sheer matter of steely will, outstanding intelligence and great rhetorical skills — all of which she possesses.
What sets Obama apart is that he is a mensch, a personable, agreeable, charming, inspiring human being.