This article, appearing half a year before the Iowa Caucuses of 2008, can give us a strong indication why Sen. Barack Obama bested Sen. Clinton in that first match-up for liberal activists. And it shows why many of the party’s most committed rejected her as a standard-bearer that year. “Hillary’s War,” the Gerth-Van Natta article, is readily accessible to anyone who can google it with “New York Times.”
At this festive time of year, we are reminded of Charles Dickens’ famous Christmas Carol. And the Hollywood version of the classic George C. Scott Scrooge gives us a scene worthy of remembering. Many a child had nightmares after watching the entrance of Marley’s Ghost into Ebenezer Scrooge’s bedchamber.
The scary ringing of the bell by Marley’s Ghost is one of the creepier parts of the scene.
For political junkies, that ringing bell may not remind so much of Salvation Army kettles as it does of the iconic Hillary Clinton campaign ad. The ringing telephone in the Oval Office was the most famous political ad from the entire 2008 cycle. The Clinton for President campaign wanted Americans to think that she had been tested and would be the seasoned leader the nation yearned for.
Conservatives need to remember that it is not conservatives who dominate the primaries and caucuses that select the next Democratic nominee. And for all the hoopla about being “Ready for Hillary,” she will have to defend not just her record as Barack Obama’s Sec. of State, but her “long and winding road” on the Iraq war. It shows a wily but unprincipled character, eager to get on the right side of the polls. For the invasion when seeming tough is the order of the day. Against the occupation when Iraq’s endless sectarian strife makes Operation Iraqi Freedom a bitter joke.
Her record will follow her around, just like those chains and cashboxes that Jacob Marley’s Ghost had to drag with him into Scrooge’s dark and freezing bedchamber. That record should provide plenty of fodder in a general election match-up to any careful analysis.
But it will be most interesting to how enterprising young liberals take on the supposedly invincible former Secretary of State. Her entire record will be laid out in detail. Surely, Barack Obama is not the only intelligent leader on the left who sees a weakness to be exploited. Many of those liberal activists—the ones who actually decide these things-- will conclude that at 3 a.m., they want someone else to answer that red telephone in the White House. And Hillary may yet find out that her record—the entirety of it--makes a great deal of difference.