O Hillary! My Hillary!

Posted: May 15, 2008 3:05 PM
O Hillary! My Hillary!

O Captain! My Captain!
Our fearful trip is done.

— Walt Whitman

Spurning appeals to throw it in, Hillary Clinton is pressing on. But she has to know her attempted Clinton restoration is over, done, finis.

She began as invincible, inevitable — and ended incoherent. Ended petulant, aggrieved, self-centered, boring, stiff; calculating, cynical, contrived. She began as conservatives’ and moderates’ worst nightmare, and became — shrill, cackling, Chicago-suburb Southern accent, lifelong Yankee fan, and all — the endlessly morphing nightmare Plastic Girl of leftist Democrats as well.

The ship has weathered every rack,
The prize we sought is won.

Well no. It’s lost. She might wind up on the ticket (though it’s unlikely), yet she’ll carry on for The Cause — ever striving to advance a decaying, dispiriting liberalism and to overcome a perceived sexism, her failed presidential campaign dubious testimony to the wisdom of philosopher Gloria Steinem’s insight that “gender is probably the most restricting force in American life.”

The prize — the Democratic nomination — was lost to a superior candidate seeking to overcome American life’s principal competing restriction that is not genderism but race. Against Obamamania, not even the leftist women’s group Emily’s List — perhaps the nation’s No. 1 political action committee — was enough.

Exult o shores, and ring o bells!

Hardly. Rather — toll those bells, bag them, and muffle the cadencing drums. For along the way Hillary Clinton encountered abundant inconvenient truths that ultimately overwhelmed. Truths such as:

— That from sea to shining sea many women don’t trust her, just don’t like her. It’s her own woman problem rivaling bubba Bill’s.

— That a Clinton legacy built on triangulation and $8-a-barrel oil and gazillion billions for expanding government health care, was unenduring. The latte left that long seemed so smitten, ditched her when someone better came along, leaving in shambles the Clinton legacy — or the portion of it unconnected to oral sex.

— That many Democrats are underwhelmed by the prospect of both Clintons returned to the White House and renting out the Lincoln Bedroom. In the words of The Wall Street Journal: “It took 10 years, but you might say Democrats have finally voted to impeach.”

— That sniper fire on the tarmac in Tuzla summarized a litany of Billary lies and excessive behavior.

But I with mournful tread
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

This Pinafore Captain Hillary (“and a right good Captain, too!”) fell not to the vast right-wing attack machine, but deploying “white” all over the place in a contest with a mixed-blood opponent and lobbing rhetorical bombs that would make the gnarliest right-winger blush: “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran. . . . We would be able to totally obliterate them.”

She leaves a Democratic Party, built on interest groups as no other, fractured and exposed. A party that seeks an end to the secret (Australian) ballot in union elections. A party that would pack the federal courts with weepy, guilt-ridden yahoos. An abidingly redistributionist party with a nominee offering, with oh-so-much panache, a Hooverian mix of trade restrictions and tax increases — indeed tax increases that during the next five years would dwarf the nation’s thus-far-largest tax increases by a factor of 3.

The Weekly Standard’s Noemie Emery writes tellingly of Hillary becoming “the obstacle, the impediment, the residue of past scandals, the woman in the way.”

And Hillary leaves as the survivor of this battle a nominee who may have carried more state contests and more convention delegates, but likely fewer popular votes and — excepting his own Illinois — no populous state (not New York, Michigan, Florida or California) historically at the heart of Democratic presidential success. Indeed, her big victories in middle-American Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia may highlight on the marquee the problems he will have come fall. (Never in 92 years — not since 1916 — have the Democrats won the presidency without West Virginia.)

And so:

It’s finis for Captain Hillary. She has failed her Cause and in doing so failed to find her voice, either because (a) she never knew where or what it was, or because (b) she knew all along precisely where and what it was yet kept it hidden lest — strutting up there on the Pinafore’s bridge — she fail as an even more garish caricature.

O Captain, my captain! So long!