Tags: hillary | clinton | faces

The Three Faces of Hillary Clinton

Tuesday, 26 Feb 2008 08:54 AM

By Lowell Ponte

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Sen. Hillary Clinton has at last become the candidate of change.

The bad news is that this change is found mostly in her wild mood swings and wild public statements.

During last Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate, for example, Clinton’s closing statement was sweet and light: “I am honored,” she cooed, “to be sharing this stage with Barack Obama,” as she and the senator from Illinois, who has soared past her in popular votes and states won, and convention delegates warmly clasped hands. But three days later she was shouting from an Ohio stage: “Shame on you, Barack Obama!”

The occasion for her outrage was a weeks-old Obama mailer that told voters two inconvenient truths: Clinton’s health plan would coercively bill citizens for health insurance, whether or not they wanted her system’s plan; and she cheered when her husband then-President Bill Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement.

NAFTA, said Obama’s mailer, has cost Ohioans 50,000 jobs. If enough Ohio Democrats hear this message, it could cost Ms. Clinton her long-sought job as president.

With the latest CNN-USA Today Poll showing Obama leading Clinton nationwide by double-digits, 51-39 percent, it’s clear why she feels desperate.

Political enthusiasts expected Clinton to attack Obama in last week’s debate — and were disappointed at her apparent reluctance to try to knock him down.

This Tuesday night’s debate will literally be do-or-die. Either she wins decisively and slows Obama’s momentum, or she will be pressed thereafter to kiss her presidential aspirations goodbye. She says she will unleash “everything” she has on Obama before the March 4 primaries.

Hillary Clinton entered this race expecting the usual mainstream media bias to build her up while concealing her failings, as it did during the Clinton co-presidency.

Instead, the liberal media has usually boosted and protected fresh-faced Obama, giving Clinton a tiny taste of what it is always like to be a Republican running against a Democrat.

On Sunday, Clinton urged reporters to watch a "Saturday Night Live" satire depicting pro-Obama media bias by NBC rival network CNN, a bias that Clinton complained is real.

But in last Thursday’s presidential debate CNN gave Clinton both the first and last word, and CNN allowed her repeatedly to violate debate rules by injecting rebuttals after Obama was supposed to get the final word on some questions. CNN’s bias was, if anything, tilted in favor of a haughty and high-handed Hillary Clinton.

Here are a few of Ms. Clinton’s Tuesday debate challenges:

For all her claims of being a known quantity, tested and vetted by decades in the political arena, Hillary Clinton must make clear which is the real her — the sweet conciliatory Hillary of last week’s debate, or the screaming combatant of this past weekend.

If the sweet Hillary was genuine, then who was that wild woman shouting “Shame!” at Sen. Obama and mocking the optimism of his speeches? (“You are not going to be able to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear,” Clinton preached loudly. Having pocketed millions from fat-cat interests, she knows first hand.)

On Sunday, Clinton asked listeners to compare her experience to Obama’s inexperience: “Who do you want answering the Red Phone at three in the morning when there’s an international crisis?”

If Ms. Clinton is both resignedly sweet and explosively sour, we need to ask hard, harsh questions.

Can America risk having a president with mood swings with her finger on the nuclear button?

In recent days Sen. Clinton has exhibited symptoms of wild mood swings that, if genuine, raise serious doubts about her fitness to be commander in chief during a crisis.

By contrast, the likely Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona, hit by a withering smear attack by the liberal New York Times, has in recent days remained calm, in command, and steady as a rock.

It’s possible that both the sweet and sour Hillarys were masks worn by a master actress to deceive the gullible into giving her their sympathy and votes.

Such deception is a standard Hillary Clinton tactic, as progressive Christopher Hitchens revealed in his 2000 book about the Clintons: "No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family." But even if Clinton is as cold-bloodedly manipulative as her critics claim, her recent display of mood swings reflects frightening incompetence.

Competent politicians know how to “stay on message,” to develop a winning theme and drive it home despite opponent tactics designed to pull rivals “off message.”

Clinton has been unable to settle and focus on any clear, consistent message.

Her campaign looks like a drowning person – confused and floundering. This likely is how she would govern as president.

She began by wanting to be Evita Peron at the heart of inevitability. She wanted to run the coven at the heart of her president husband’s program he called The New Covenant with the American People.

She will now be lucky to retain her seat as junior U.S. senator from New York.

Her destiny apparently is to become the female version of liberal Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, who in recent days has been on the Texas-Mexican border singing intoxicating Spanish songs to rally Hispanic Obama voters.

Kennedy also believed that his inevitable destiny was to become president of the United States. Fate and his failings decided otherwise.

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