Jonah Goldberg
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The most enjoyable aspect of watching the HMS Hillary take on water is the prospect that Bill - and his cult of personality - will go down with the ship, too.

Bill Clinton has been stumping for his wife on the Iowa hustings, framing the election as a referendum on his tenure as president. Last month in Muscatine (during the same speech in which he falsely claimed to have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning), he told the assembled Democrats that HMS Hillary could transport America "back to the future."

Last summer, when he first started hawking Hillary like a door-to-door salesman, he told a crowd: "I know some people say, ŒLook at them. They're old. They're sort of yesterday's news.' ...

"Well," Slick Willie said, grinning, "yesterday's news was pretty good."

Indeed, Hillary's entire campaign has been grounded in her experience in the Clinton administration of the 1990s, even though that experience mostly involves designing a failed health-care plan and unsuccessfully hectoring her husband to move to the left. Still, as New York Times editorial writer Adam Cohen noted in a column last week, it was her decision to make the choice between her and Barack Obama a "referendum on a decade."

So if Hillary Clinton loses the race for the nomination - heck, even if she just loses the Iowa caucuses - I hope to see this headline somewhere, perhaps in the New York Post: "America to Clinton(s): We're Just Not That Into You."

The rush of schadenfreude would be so overwhelming, the entire Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy would have to hie itself to its fainting couch. For years now, the Clintons' defenders have claimed that the '90s were halcyon days, thanks to the deft statesmanship of the Clintons. Much of the liberal establishment has become wedded to protecting the memory of the Clintons' stewardship. David Brock's progressive outfit, Media Matters for America, is a prime example. It should be renamed "Hillary Matters for America," given that it is less a media watchdog and more an attack dog for Hillary Clinton.

But schadenfreude doesn't really do justice to Hillary's potential downfall. Her career is indisputably a product of her marriage. But for most of her life, Hillary had an independent ideological identity that now seems to have gone down the memory hole. In her own words, she championed a whole new "politics of meaning" and sought to redefine "who we are as human beings in this postmodern age."

But, bit by bit, she sliced off chunks of her soul. Hillary used to be the personification of hope for the left. On the welfare debate, she was supposed to be Bill's conscience. She was the Eleanor to his Franklin.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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