Friday, April 18


Having just watched Hillary on The Colbert Report (h/t Tennessee Guerilla Women), I'm reminded of nothing so much as a gift I once received from my young niece. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Go ahead, watch, it's short. But man, does it get across the primary reason so many of us support this remarkable woman for president.

The setup: Stephen is about to introduce the topic of Wednesday night's debate when his rear-projection screen slips from an impressive graphic of the Liberty Bell and other Philadelphia icons, to color bars. Stephen starts yelling for help, but he's told by a producer or someone over an open mike that the A/V team is in New York and there's no-one to solve it. Stephen cries out to the universe, "Are you telling me that there's not one single person in this massive theater who can fix this mess we're in?"

Enter stage right, Hillary Clinton, who calls out, "I can."

Hillary exchanges a few words with the producer, tells him what to do, and voila! The graphic screen returns.

Stephen thanks her profusely, and Hillary responds, "I LOVE to solve problems. You call me anytime."

And, as she exits, "Call me at 3 a.m."

Baby, that's the person I want to be president at this critical time. We have LOTS of problems, and Hillary has made a life's work of researching problems and finding solutions. I remember reading long ago how from the very first when Bill and Hillary got together, their idea of fun was studying policy, discussing policy. They are a most unusual couple, and peculiarly suited to governing. They listen to all sides, attack a problem like a diagnostician would a disease, and once they've figured out what's necessary, they find out what's doable and plan a strategy around that. You may call it "triangulation," but I call their methodology a "formula for success." They've been planning how to make the world better for most of their lives. It's why the musical theme of their inauguration, Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" was so completely appropriate. (I remember screaming with delight when I heard it strike up, it was so perfect!) It's how they've been able to achieve so much actual good for people, from the Arkansas Attorney General's office to the governorship, to the presidency, and afterwards, and all along that time, in their capacity as private people as well. Bill's foundation is doing incredible work battling HIV AIDS throughout the world (among other things), and Hillary has pursued a Senate career where she has won the admiration and yes, even friendship, of many on the other side of the aisle, and amazingly has won the regard and ENDORSEMENT of dozens of the most distinguished flag officers of the American military.

More and more every day, with evidence like Obama's performance in this most recent debate before me, I am convinced that Barack has more in common with George W. Bush than is comfortable. No, I don't mean their stands on issues -- I'm talking about their personal journeys and their present personalities and characters. Both have given evidence of men who have "issues," as they say, with their family. Both have staked their claims to the presidency on their "judgment." Both have a tendency to disparage their non-supporters as unenlightened, uninformed, or intellectually deficient. Both exhibit an innate arrogance and sense of entitlement. Both have enjoyed a considerable press affection, which has denied the American people an opportunity to know the real man. Both have had very easy lives, yet seem to want some kind of credit given them for "overcoming," despite their relatively smooth and easy rise to prominence and fortune. When W was sElected president in 2000, the American voters had absolutely no idea how he'd actually govern. We've seen how that turned out.

You don't have the first idea how Obama will govern, either. Or McCain, for that matter.

Hillary is another story. She's mapped out in detail precisely what she will do as president. We have her performance as a Senator, her very public priorities and activities as First Lady of the U.S. and Arkansas, her decades of work with the Children's Defense Fund, her grace and steadfastness of character as displayed during a life of Kennedyesque crises played out in the media and before American and the world -- we have all this, triumph and drama, secret sorrors made public, an affection and respect for her (and Bill) by the world that dwarfs anything she/they ever experienced in their own country.

We know Hillary. We know she doesn't give up. We know she has a plan for darn near anything anyone can imagine. You know, I understood what Chelsea meant when she said her mother would make an ever better president than her father. Much as I love and appreciate Bill, Hillary has qualities that will make her a better president. Oh yes, he's the better politician. Hillary will never have his charisma or speaking ability. But Hillary has discipline. She's proven an ability to win over opponents (who's the unifier?), from her success with her New York constituency to the military, to such unlikely characters as Newt Gingrich and Rupert Murdoch.

Yes, Hillary can fix this mess we're in, not that it will be completed within her two-term administration. We don't even have a complete picture of just how bad it is. But she makes long-term plans, she's completely in the weeds with them, and that's why she's so good in the debates on issues. She's mastered them. She's not just mouthing platitudes and stump-speech statements.

And if not Hillary, who do you think can set us on the right track again? Obama? McCain? Unlikely. What would give you reason to believe so?

UPDATE: Oh yes, I forgot to tell about my niece's gift. It was a coffee mug I still treasure, which reads on one side: "They finally found something that does the work of ten men ..." Then on the other side it finishes, "... one woman."

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