Hillary is good, really good. She plays for the moment. She tries what she thinks will work. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. We have to give her credit for trying. Her personas are like those Russian dolls that fit inside each other. Right now Hillary as Serious Senator is the biggest doll on the outside, but inside we get a glimpse at her former images. She has to give Simon and Schuster a chance to get back some of that huge advance.
We see and hear again about the Arkansas governor's wife in granny dresses and funny glasses, changing her hairdo in the White House. She laughs about all that now. Other images are no laughing matter. We have to look once again at the woman who failed miserably when she attempted to develop a salable health care program.
Many of us saw that power grab as a payoff from straying husband to put-upon wife who went on "60 Minutes" to stand by her man. We had to watch her fight back as the victim of her husband's latest infidelity.
She fought dirty, going on television directing the media to pursue a nonexistent vast right-wing conspiracy out to get her husband when all along he was behaving in a way as sordid as his enemies said he was. (Speaking of Russian dolls, imagine one with images of Monica, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and finally Hillary herself.)
So does Hillary Clinton reflect the triumph or failure of feminism?
I think she reflects both, demonstrating that today's American woman has more guises at her disposal than ever before, and a public with an appetite for character flaws larger than life.
She stars in a real "reality" show that will continue to titillate us until someone votes her off the island, tells her to leave center stage or ushers her out of the castle. We might have to wait until 2008 for that. (Or maybe no longer than next year.)
In the meantime, she's an "American Idol" and a "Survivor." With the book she's even Ms. Millionaire. It's all tacky, but all true.