Hillary's Celestial Choir Hits a Sour Note

Senator Clinton is not preaching to the choir, celestial or not. Her attempt Sunday to mock Senator Obama was not only ineffective; it was profoundly unpresidential. I doubt that her pseudo prayer meeting hurt Obama, certainly not the way President Bush's mocking antics hurt those who voted for, and those in the media who cheered, his invasion of Iraq. The video in which he laughingly pretended to look for WMDs under his desk degraded our own American soldiers who are sacrificing their lives and souls overseas. In pretending to laugh at himself he was really dismissing the devastation caused by his lies.

When Senator Clinton said the "celestial choirs will be singing" she did more than make fun of Obama's optimistic rhetoric; she mocked the millions of Americans who experience Obama as a fresh and compelling leader. She essentially said that Obama supporters are dupes who are stupidly taken in by what she feels is his magical approach to genuine political conflict. She is really mocking herself - the candidate with 'experience' duped by President Bush into rubber-stamping his war.

She mocks Obama's message of hope by labeling it magical thinking. It is not, except in its most primitive form. Hope encourages resolve; it doesn't substitute for it. Hope helps people face difficult obstacles; it doesn't invite evasion of hard work.

It is true that Bush does suffer from magical thinking. His notion that our troops would be welcomed in Baghdad as heroes is what a nine-year-old boy fantasizes when playing chief-of-police in a game of cops and robbers. Obama is not Bush and his hope is not that of someone stuck at the developmental age of nine.

Senator Clinton's behavior was also undignified, making it even more difficult to take her seriously as a candidate, let alone an influential figure in the Democratic Party. It's difficult to imagine how she could play any helpful role in the campaign once Obama wins the nomination, as he is now almost certain to do. If she keeps on like this, it will be hard to take her seriously as she pursues her career in the Senate. She could be one of the most illustrious figures in the history of that august body, but only if she rises above this behavior.

It is as if she is unconsciously identified with Bush, even as she compares his 'compassionate conservatism' to Obama's 'yes we can'. Projection, the attribution of unwanted parts of the self to someone else, is not confined to Republicans.

If anyone was mocked in Sunday's episode it was Obama's supporters. If anyone genuinely suffered from what Senator Clinton did it was Hillary herself. How could she do this when so many of her supporters still hope she will succeed? In what way did her stunt improve her chances or show us what is best about her?

Finally, she is caught between two charismatic men - her husband and her rival. Instead of killing two birds with one stone, she is committing political suicide. It is probably true that Bill Clinton would never have become president without Hillary's brilliant direction. Because of this, it must be hard to accept that her charismatic spouse cannot help his strong, hard-working, down-to-earth partner reach the nation's highest office. But he can't, no matter his intention.

Ultimately, what she did on Sunday just makes me sad.
I think her run for the White House is over. The celestial choir has sung. Mocking what is good and decent is more reminiscent of Rush, Rove, and Rumsfeld than it is of someone asking us to trust her judgment to handle the most important job in the world. She should withdraw now and cut her losses - as well as ours.