She has no idea how many times I defended her. How many right-leaning friends and relatives I battled with. How many times I played down her shady business deals and penchant for scandals -- whether it was Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Cattle Futures, Web Hubbell, or Norman Hsu. She has no idea how frequently I dismissed her husband's serial adultery as an unfortunate trait of an otherwise brilliant man. For sixteen years, I was a proud soldier in the legion of "Clinton apologists" -- who believed that peace and prosperity were more important than regrettable personality traits.
And then she ran for president.
She accused Mr. Obama of his own shady business deals (the irony of which nearly ripped a hole in the fabric of space/time). She accused him of being two-faced on NAFTA, when it was her campaign that had winked at the Canadians. She demanded that he "reject" the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, but remained silent when Rush Limbaugh stirred up votes for her in Texas. And she crafted the now-infamous "3am" attack ad -- which used scare tactics to highlight Senator Obama's perceived lack of experience in foreign affairs. Straight out of the ol' Atwater/Rove playbook. Of course, all of this paled in comparison to her husband's patronizing, racially insensitive comments earlier in the primary season.
Was this the same Hillary Clinton whose husband ran on the idea that hope was more powerful than fear? The wife of a president who had less foreign policy experience than Barack Obama when he was elected? And exactly which crisis is she referring to when she claims to have more experience? And while we're at it, where the hell are those tax returns?
It's clear that Hillary's back in this thing, at least for the time being. But at what cost? Short of some cataclysmic event, there's no way either she or Mr. Obama can reach 2,025 delegates in the remaining contests. That means she's accepted the inevitability of a brokered convention. A convention she'll almost certainly enter with fewer delegates than her opponent. That raises some important questions:
Will she subvert the will of the voters? Will she turn Denver into a series of shady back-room deals and arm twisting? Will she dispatch her husband to pressure superdelegates into switching allegiances at the last minute? Are we in for, as one pundit put it, a good ol' fashioned "knife fight?"
For these answers and more, tune in next week, when we'll hear the Clintons claim once again that, Oh, of course it's an honor to run against the inexperienced, Muslim, drug-dealing, Farrakhan-embracing, NAFTA-fibbing, shady land-deal-profiting Barack Hussein Obama.
Which only leaves us with one additional question.
When does the statute of limitations run out on describing the Clintons' tactics as from the Atwater/Rove playbook?
The Democratic convention is in six months. To give you a sense of how long that is, consider that it was six months ago that Fred Thompson announced for the presidency.
Would six more months of all of the above convince at least the Apologists Emeriti that these Clinton tactics are theirs, always and forever, that their behavior can no longer be blamed on nor traced to Ken Starr or Newt or Rove or Atwater, any more than the exhaust from my new Ford Edge causes floodwaters in Bali-Bali?