Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Senator Clinton's Chickens Come Home to Roost

The basic gist of the piece in question, from this morning's Boston Globe is that Senator Clinton and former President Bill Clinton have both made a good deal of enemies during their terms in politics. This is especially true of Democrats that, while they say past slights are not the primary reason for turning their backs on the Clintons, it did make the decision much, much easier:

When Democratic superdelegate Jim Cooper, a Tennessee congressman, pondered the choice between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, his thoughts wandered back to 1993. That year, Clinton was trying to change the nation's health system, and Cooper, a moderate Democrat, had a bipartisan healthcare bill of his own that, unlike Clinton's proposal, did not require employers to provide health coverage.

The president's wife, Cooper recalled, was determined to stop her fellow Democrat. "She set up a war room in the White House to defeat me," he said.

Like many superdelegates, Cooper insists that his endorsement of Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination was driven by Obama's inspiring message. But the Tennessee lawmaker's past disputes with Clinton and her husband certainly made the decision easier.

For Clinton, holding one of the most famous names in Democratic politics has had both advantages and disadvantages as she has sought to persuade superdelegates to make her the nominee. Much of the Democratic establishment jumped to Clinton's side early, rewarding her and her husband for years of friendship and shared political struggles, giving the New York senator a large lead in superdelegates at the beginning of the campaign.

But the reality of the Clintons' relationship with fellow Democrats was always more complicated.

As even some Clinton supporters concede, there are many superdelegates who have had issues with the Clintons. And now, when the New York senator most needs the loyalties of her Democratic colleagues, the checkered history of relations between the Clintons and Democratic officials is making the task tougher, say lawmakers and political analysts.

"The Clintons have a lot of enemies, even in the same Democratic establishment that embraced them," said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. "Now that it looks like she's done . . . there's not a lot of reason [for them] to stick their necks out for her."

While Bill Clinton launched an upstart campaign in 1992 with his loyal team of FOBs, Friends of Bill, Senator Clinton is now dealing with the fallout from years of disagreements and perceived slights lawmakers have felt over the years.

"This is part of the problem with being in politics for so long: You not only make friends; you make enemies," said Jon Delano, a political analyst at Carnegie Mellon University.

Now if one does not read beyond this opening page, you would believe that Mr. Cooper is the only one to have a grievance with Senator Clinton. Enter page two where the Globe gives a few more examples of those that have had problems with her, and all the names are recognizable:

They include Senator Robert Casey Jr., a Pennsylvania Democrat whose father, Governor Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, was prevented from speaking at the 1992 Democratic National Convention after a dispute with Bill Clinton over abortion. The elder Casey said at the time that he was being punished for his antiabortion stance, but he also refused to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket at the time.

Former vice president Al Gore, who sometimes sparred with the president's wife during the Clinton administration, has remained silent.

Senator John F. Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat whom Hillary Clinton criticized after he made a botched joke about Bush that was perceived as an attack on US troops in Iraq, has endorsed Obama.

Senator Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat who disagreed with Hillary Clinton on healthcare changes when he was Nebraska governor and her husband was in the White House, has endorsed Obama.

Representative Niki Tsongas, a Lowell Democrat whose late husband, former senator Paul Tsongas, endured negative attacks by Bill Clinton in the 1992 campaign, has not yet endorsed a candidate.

The Globe is right to remind readers that in politics you do make friends, but you also make enemies and those that you do upset have a habit of coming back to bite you when you need them the most. Senator Clinton, as far as we are concerned, is finished with regard to the presidential election. Senator Obama will end up with the nomination, and the race that follows will be a bitter one. Bitter in the regard that we are not sure if Senator Clinton will actively campaign for her rival, or if she will remain silent; content to cause a fight at the convention in August.

One thing is sure: Senator Clinton has made a great deal of enemies. Republicans remember her condescending, lie-ensconced life as First Lady, and they also remember how nasty she was when she became a senator from New York. She was one of the first to lambaste and lash out at President Bush post-9/11. But it seems that the animosity that Republicans have for her is nothing compared to that which Democrats have for her after run-ins with her not only as First Lady, but also as a senator.

Indeed, her chickens are coming home to roost, and it took long enough for them to begin hammering her for her contentious attitude and behavior. The old adage that "revenge is a dish best served cold" comes to mind with Senator Clinton, and her failure to become the most powerful woman in America.



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