Emmett Tyrrell

Another fact that I turned up in researching for the book is a matter alluded to earlier in this column, to wit, the Clintons began their quest for a second Clinton presidency from a position of national disgrace. Owing to the last-minute pardons, the White House property that the first family was accused of pilfering and the trashing of the White House alleged against Hillary's staff, both Clintons' approval ratings had slipped into the 30th percentile. Major liberal newspapers were demanding congressional investigations, including The New York Times. The liberal New York Observer editorialized "we (New Yorkers) have made a terrible mistake, for Hillary Rodham Clinton is unfit for elective office. Had she any shame, she would resign."

Now that last line caught your eye, did it not? The reason for the dramatic decline in Hillary's front-runner status is that Democratic voters increasingly are alarmed about a large hairy monster that has been roaming through their consciences for years, probably since they first heard of Gennifer Flowers and of Bill Clinton's diplomatic negotiations with his draft board. The monster is the Clintons' record of lawlessness and scandal. Already in this campaign cycle, Democratic voters have reminders of the Clintons' unsavory practices, felons among their contributors, even shadowy Asians bundling checks, as in 1996, and, of course, the politics of personal destruction practiced against their opponents.

My guess is that a sizable number of Democrats have had enough of it. Obama represents a clean break with a troubled and mediocre past. As Hillary leaves New Hampshire, she challenges Obama on the question of experience. The junior senator from Illinois should take up her challenge. Hillary can chide him for his lack of experience, and he can remind us all of Hillary's unique experiences, beginning with the Clintons' "holiday from history," and Travelgate, Filegate, missing billing records, lying under oath, her cattle-futures bonanza, the Riady family, Johnny Chung, John Huang, Charlie Trie -- and suddenly, you see it, too, the large hairy monster that is the Clinton legacy.

My guess is that the main reason for Hillary's decline is that voters are troubled by the monster that is her unique record.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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