Kathleen Parker

All politicians adapt and mold themselves to fit their audience, but Hillary Clinton has elevated the art of identity politics to a science of morphology.

She doesn't just show people what they want in order to convince them that she's their "man" -- and we no longer use that word entirely metaphorically. She becomes the people she wants to sway.

Which prompts the question: Is she human or is she ... cyborg?

In James Cameron's "Terminator II: Judgment Day," the T-1000 android was made of liquid metal and could duplicate others. He "learned" a person by touching him and absorbing his data.

Hillary's life as a political spouse and candidate has been a kaleidoscope of shape-shifting and morphed identity. In the past 15 years, Americans have witnessed her transformation from a more feminine first lady to lately becoming a manly whiskey slugger with "testicular fortitude," as an Indiana labor leader recently described her.

In news stories and headlines, she's increasingly been described as tough, determined, gritty, a fighter. North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley said Clinton made "Rocky Balboa look like a pansy." James Carville, comparing Clinton's toughness to Obama's, told Newsweek: "If she gave him one of her cojones, they'd both have two."

While Obama continues trying to remain calm no matter what rains down on him, Clinton's putting up her dukes. His demeanor on "Meet the Press" last Sunday said, "Let's talk." Hers on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" the same day said, "Read my lips."

Clinton all but kicked sand in the face of her husband's former adviser. When Stephanopoulos asked about NAFTA, she stood from her armchair and seized the opportunity to remind viewers that Boy George used to work in the big house for the Clintons:

"George and I actually were against NAFTA," she said. "I'm talking about him in his previous life, before he was an objective journalist."

Do we hear a "hooah!"?

In other incarnations throughout the campaign, Clinton has been whatever and whoever she needed to be. She's shown that she can speak in gerunds with or without g's. She can summon an African-American pastor's cadence in church or produce tears in a coffee shop surrounded by working gals who are tired, too.

She's just Regular People and feels their pain in ways husband Bill could only whimper about. She touches her targets and becomes them.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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