When she says she can “hit the ground running,” she pretends that she is addressing her vast public policy experience. But it is irrelevant that she was in the White House for eight years. So was the pastry chef. But what is relevant, and inescapable, is that she did lead the president’s crusade to overcome the efforts of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” to bring him down, and it is that experience which endears her to the base.
This affection for Hillary the Gladiator makes the appeals of Obama and Edwards largely irrelevant. They might be good men. They might be good presidents. But can they win? Are Edwards’s decency and civility barriers to being tough enough to beat the GOP machine? Is Obama’s desire to rise above partisanship the right attitude to take into a food fight with the GOP? Democrats have their doubts. But about Hillary’s zest for combat and her ruthlessness once in the ring, they have no concerns.
So Hillary does not polarize her party ideologically. Instead, she compares with her opponents in a time warp. She is the candidate of the present. Edwards is the candidate of the past, the man who, like Rocky’s brother-in-law Paulie, might have been a contender and would have been very good. Obama is the candidate of the future, the young man with prom ise and so much talent. But for today, for now — it’s Hillary.