Suzanne Fields

Power, money, sex, politics. Hillary Clinton is the ex-wife at the table where her ex-husband sits with his new wife. They've come together for the sake of the children to iron out as amiably as they can the specifics of separation. Hillary's the lady in distress. As odd woman out, she must show strength without the help she has grown accustomed to. It's a new and uncomfortable role.

Presidential politics has a lot in common with sexual politics. Power and money are instrumental, and Barack Obama's got more of both. Hillary's blowout in West Virginia, though continuing to show Obama's difficulty in attracting and reassuring white voters, probably doesn't change anything. Now both Hillary and Barack will find out which of their friends will remain good friends and which ones will go to the other.

There's another scenario drawn from sexual politics to describe the power changes in the relationship between Hill and Bill. She saved him once, forgiving his manifold sins, and he saved her with gilt by association. Now he's morphed into just another powerless spouse. Was that a tear Bill was wiping from his cheek while he stood behind her after her slender victory in Indiana?

Analogies abound. The Clintons, observes The Wall Street Journal, have begun separation from the Democratic Party, which was only a marriage of convenience anyway: "Like all divorces after lengthy unions, this one is painful and has had its moments of reconciliation, but ... a split looks inevitable. The long co-dependency is over."

This campaign exposed the big lie that the Clintons were victims of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." They were instead victims of a vast conspiracy, but one against themselves. In their overreaching, they were able to postpone the inevitable, but only for a little while. They're like Faustus, who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for years of delicious service, but who in his final hour desperately tried to postpone the descent into the darkness of defeat.

The pundits speculate about an Obama-Hillary ticket, but this, as one wit puts it, "would require Obama to hire a food-taster." If John McCain and Barack Obama head the tickets, as they seem destined to do, each will choose a boomer as a running mate. But it's the top of the ticket that frames the debate, and these two men represent two dramatically different generations.

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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