Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, the Clintons should bask in the glow of John McCain's Clintonian gloss on this fact: Ten months ago Romney said that President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki should discuss, privately, "a series of timetables and milestones." That unremarkable thought was twisted by McCain, whose distortions are notably clumsy, as when Romney said, accurately, that he alone among the candidates has had extensive experience in private-sector business. That truth was subjected to McCain's sophistry, and he charged that Romney had said "you haven't had a real job" if you had a military career. If, this autumn, voters must choose between Clinton and McCain, they will face, at least stylistically, an echo, not a choice.
But that dreary scenario need not come to pass. Romney seems to have found his voice as attention turns to the economy, a subject concerning which McCain seems neither conversant nor eager to become so. And in South Carolina, Obama, more than doubling Clinton's 27 percent, won a majority of the votes, becoming the first person in either party to do so in a contested primary this year. He won a majority of men and of women, which pretty much covers the rainbow of genders. And he used his victory speech to clearly associate the Clintons with "the idea that it's acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election" (hello again, Bill, you political ethicist who famously said "you gotta do what you gotta do") and "the kind of partisanship where you're not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea -- even if it's one you never agreed with."
Obama is running against two Clintons -- or one and a fraction of one, given how much she has been diminished by her overbearing spouse. Romney is marginally better off running against a Clinton impersonator.
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