Cato the Elder, the great Roman senator, stood for the proposition "Carthago delenda est" -- we should destroy Carthage. Thomas Jefferson ran for president to protect the yeoman farmers from Hamiltonian big government. James Polk promised to steal Texas from the Mexicans. Abe Lincoln stood to preserve the Union. FDR promised to defeat the Depression with bold experimentation. Ike would end the Korean War. Ronald Reagan promised to built up our military strength, defeat Soviet Communism, cut taxes and spending.
And last weekend, Hillary Rodham Clinton presented herself for election to the presidency of the United States with the timeless, clarion call:
"So let's talk. Let's chat, let's start a dialogue about your ideas and mine, because the conversation in Washington has been just a little one-sided lately, don't you think?"
The junior senator from the Empire State may not be leading with her strength with the theme of "a time for chatting." Of all the politicians who have strode, minced, ambled or marched across the stage of American politics over the years, Hillary may be the one least likely to induce the desire to be chatted up by.
I can imagine wanting to chat with Bill Richardson (in fact, I have -- he's good company). Hillary's husband is obviously a world-class chatter -- among other things. Harry Truman would be a ball to chat with -- presumably over a few bourbons. One could have gossiped with FDR over martinis and cigarettes for hours. Even Obama looks like an amiable conversationalist. We could compare our dope smoking days, or the merits of different South Sea beaches -- if that isn't the same topic.
But whether with politicians or the gent or lady at the next bar stool, the essence of chatting is lightness and spontaneity. And, while Hillary Milhous Rodham-Clinton may have many sterling qualities -- lightness and spontaneity are so not among them that she ought to consider firing the staffer who suggested that "let's chat" line.
She is about as spontaneous as the old Soviet Politburo. One has the sense that she has been planning this moment since about 1957. And she only compounded the problem with that closing observation that "conversation in Washington has been a little one-sided lately, don't you think?"
Can you imagine Hillary having a sincere, two-sided conversation with you -- a total stranger? She would have that huge painted-on smile aimed at your eyes, while her eyes would be looking over your shoulder to her handler with the exasperated "get me out of here" look.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.