Rich Lowry

That's the key element of the old bargain that Hillary can't necessarily hold up. She entered the primary race a dubious general-election candidate, and she seems weaker now, with her overreliance on Bill and his nasty shots at Obama. In between his fits, Clinton must wonder how he managed, after a career of courting blacks, to get himself on the wrong side of a racial dispute in the Democratic Party.

Obama promises a purer liberalism, without scandal and acrimony, and, on top of it all, electability. Why wouldn't Democrats jump at this deal? Because Obama isn't yet enough like the Bill Clinton of 1992. The blessing of Ted and Caroline Kennedy gives Obama even more of the aura of Camelot, a remote and shining liberal idealism. But Obama needs less of the haute cuisine of Olympian inspiration and more of the grubby cheese fries of Bill Clinton's emotional connection to economically distressed voters. Bill felt their pain, and -- a wonk at heart -- smothered them with proposals to revive the economy.

Hillary doesn't have the bond that Bill had with down-market voters, but she's been able to win them over with a workmanlike focus on the details of policy important to them. If she holds on to working-class whites, Latinos and women, she can still derail Obama and keep the party from embracing his alluring new deal.


Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
 
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