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Monday, October 17, 2016
Hillary's and Bill’s Art of the Deal
Imagine Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton's first date at Yale. After dinner in some joint -- followed by a joint they didn't inhale – first year law student Hillary peers penetratingly through her oversized owl glasses into the baby blues of her tall date and asks, ''So, what do you want to be when you grow up, Bill?"
Sheepishly, a big-haired Bill smiles back at Four Eyes – a term I lifted from Erich Segal's Love Story -- and says in his charming Southern drawl, "President of the United States!" Hillary is aghast with delight. "But that's what I want to be!" she blurts out. It was love of power at first sight.
They've had their ups and downs since then, but now they don't hang around much together except at campaign time. Back in 2000, Al Gore -- whose hulk has surfaced recently to remind Democrats that every vote counts -- would have nothing to do with President Clinton throughout the Gore-Lieberman campaign for the White House. Bill had been impeached and disbarred. Nobody would touch him – politically, at least.
But contrary to the pun that "time wounds all heels," Bill Clinton has since rebounded, and once again ranks right up there in the polls as one of America's most popular Democrat politicians. And even Hillary – or especially Hillary – has come around to embracing him, in public at least. She may have acted miffed at Bill all those years ago when the Sidney Blumenthal-crafted "vast right wing conspiracy" theory she posited about her husband's affair with Monica Lewinsky was debunked. But she could no more stay angry at Bubba than she could expunge the mutual political ambitions lying deep within their souls.
In fact, Mrs. Clinton is the Great Pretender, a role for which she is ideally suited. She has played it for what it's worth so often that many confuse it with her true nature. To her long-time representation as a self-sacrificing champion of women and children "from Day One," Hillary has added the nuanced role of martyr that befits her sex. She takes pride in claiming that men have disparaged and even metaphorically grabbed at her ambition over the years. And she subtly lays claim to being a victim -- you know, like all those whose votes she depends on to get elected.
Finding pay dirt in the latest string of accusations against Donald Trump's conduct, Hillary aired her outrage against him on the Ellen DeGeneres show, claiming that her bully opponent had "literally stalked" her during their second debate. That's the same role she played, incidentally, during her first run for the US Senate, her body language registering repulsion when her young Republican opponent dared to "invade her space" on the debate stage. This time around, she did not hesitate to wander over and stand in front of Donald Trump, conveniently setting up a scenario in which he can later be accused of "lurking" or "looming" over her. It's political theater at its most hypocritical.
Stuff like this may seem picayune, but when the "victim" is Hillary Clinton, it plays well with a supportive media. Over her long acting career in politics, onstage or off she has used people as props to enhance her own performance. Donald Trump may have authored The Art of the Deal, but in politics, Hillary Clinton is a far better wheeler-dealer than he is.
Trump recognizes Hillary as a "fighter." What he doesn't understand is how disarmingly she has been able to back him onto the ropes. He hasn't gone down for the count yet, but time is ticking, and for all his bravado, The Donald hasn't displayed the necessary footwork to get our of Hillary's way. He's been thrown in the official "ring" with her twice already, and while his performance has improved, it hasn't been good enough.
On Wednesday, he will have another chance to throw some punches that may hit their mark. But in the run-up to that final round, he has been wasting valuable time. Still reeling from the "locker room" tape, Trump now finds a flurry of bad behavior accusations from women raining blows upon him. One can't fault his being defensive about the suspect "sexual predator" charges, but he's spending too much time dancing around them instead of landing some punches with other issues, such as the revelations in the Wikileaks' hacked Clinton emails, the Iranian-backed missiles fired at our Navy's ships in Middle Eastern waters, the costly failure of Obamacare, the anemic jobs recovery, etc. Hillary's unchallenged evasion on these and other issues once again demonstrates the skillful dodge and weave of a seasoned politician.
According to some medical authorities, the acrimony of the current presidential slugfest has gotten to a majority of voters in both parties. Those whose blood pressure is going through the roof or whose ordinarily blissful sleep habits have been disrupted are advised to turn off the TV and take a walk, or get involved in a hobby other than that of political junkie.
After this is all over, we may be invaded by an army of obligatory "grief counselors." I'm not predicting which voters will be queuing up for solace, but from my standpoint I hope their services are covered by Medicare.
Before then, however, there's the third debate, which pessimists claim could be the final blow to knock Trump out of contention. Hillary -- with her long history of deflecting questions by using well-rehearsed platitudes, denials and further attacks on her opponent – has a distinct advantage. All she has to do is play her familiar part: stand there and look reasonably healthy and superciliously feminine as she reacts to Trump's comments with amusement or pseudo-shock.
Between now and Election Day, Trump supporters will remain Trump supporters. But in return for their abiding enthusiasm, the candidate in whom they have invested so much hope and trust should stop sparring with the media and the GOP. Instead, he should seriously train to face an opponent whose dream of becoming the first woman president began at Yale and hasn't ended yet.