Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hillary d' Little Rock

In the better part of American Christendom, today is Epiphany Sunday; I dutifully hustled my family to worship. For reasons about which I am still unclear, I felt particularly disengaged from the goings on during church today. (Perhaps it did not help that the preacher was speaking from the first chapter of the Book of Irrelevant Theology.)

In any event, as the pastor's sermon wound down to its anticlimax, I noticed a rustling the pews on the periphery to my right. An elderly member of the congregation seemed to be in some urgent physical distress; he was eventually trundled out of the sanctuary and an ambulance was dispatched for him. My thoughts and prayers sped with him to the hospital, and reside with him presently.

My own epiphany for today was that whatever "the church" is about, the least of it is what goes on under its imprimaturs. It is the interpersonal courtesies and intercessions of the faithful towards each other that justify the exercise of religious faith; surely it is seldom the nominal activity of its titular heads.

A similar moment of revelation has come over the greater part of the Democratic Party (and perhaps to a lesser degree, the Republicans.) Last week's defeat of the Inevitable Party's front runner in Iowa was a body blow not just to Clinton & Clinton, but to the firmament of the Democrat establishment more generally. It, along with Hillary's getting booed at last Friday's New Hampshire Democratic Party 100 Club Dinner, her heated response to attacks from Barack Obama and John Edwards in yesterday's ABC News debates, her neck and neck showing with Obama in recent New Hampshire polling and senior Democrats publicly raising questions about her electability all suggest that there is a seismic shift afoot within Democrat ranks.

Hillary's relationship with her party's grass roots has always been tenuous at best. The leftmost fringe of Democrats never saw her as sufficiently progressive, either as a senator or as a presidential candidate. Even from the opposite side of the political spectrum, she seemed to be the most stereotypically Republican candidate - perfectly Nixonian both stylistically and substantively (as discussed elsewhere.) Her troubles as of late stem largely from the fact that she has never been able to provide evidence that she represented anything other than a pro forma liberalism, preferring a stasis befitting a former "Goldwater Girl." As much is why her attempts to portray herself as an agent of change inevitably come across as unbelievable.

Largely, but not entirely. The other major defect of her campaign is that it assumes that any dirty tricks implemented to get her into office can be overcome by the good works that would be accomplished upon her election. Sadly for Ms. Clinton, most Americans are not convinced that such is the case. When we reflect on the long list of Clinton shenanigans just within the last three months - planted questions (and questioners), Kindergartengate, hoax e-mails from Clinton operatives in Iowa, more planted questions, scandalous rumors about Obama's past drug use, and still more campaign plants (to include the deployment of Hillary's Sunday School teacher to a recent Iowa campaign event) - we rightly get the sense that these are the actions of a candidate that wants the office too badly to be any good once she is installed.

As they are wont - and as I learned earlier today - epiphanies visit themselves to those who have the least at stake in their discovery. I am not at all surprised that the steady defection from the Clinton camp is being initiated by those outside Democrat circles of influence. It remains to be seen whether those outside of the liberal rank and file will come to a similar conclusion about Sen. Clinton's long-term electoral prospects. I sense that sometime between now and February 5th, we will have our answer.

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