Before Iowa, I was rooting for Hillary Clinton. For purely emotional reasons. First, I wanted to see the first woman president in my lifetime. Second, I wanted the happy ending. I wanted Hillary to get hers at last.
I'm not someone who sucks it up and stands by her horndog man, but I like to believe it's an option. I want to believe that we're all human and we disappoint each other -- but that some people can hang in and work it out, no matter what.
I was looking forward to seeing someone who kept her eyes on the prize actually get the prize.
After Iowa, when the stench of loser hit Hillary, I realized what 9/11, George Bush and a catastrophic war had almost wiped out. I forgot for a minute that Iowa was not Hillary's first big humiliation.
I remembered the "bimbo eruptions."
I thought of the times Bill Clinton hung Hillary out to dry. Or, Hillary let herself be hung out to dry, depending on how you look at it.
I remembered Hillary on 60 Minutes in 1992 defending Bill against allegations he had an affair with Gennifer Flowers; Hillary on The Today Show in 1998 defending Bill against the Monica Lewinsky allegations and blaming a "vast right-wing conspiracy."
It occurred to me: If I were gunning for the biggest job in the world, would I want a guy who repeatedly publicly humiliated me as my cornerman?
What does infidelity mean, anyway? Were Bill Clinton's affairs merely because he's a complicated guy with a weird, white trash past who can't keep his pants zipped?
To me, a man's infidelity is sometimes as much about achieving a malignant power over his wife and hurting her, as it is with needing to scratch a sexual itch.
If you're married to someone like that, do you want him behind you in the race of your life? How do you know he's not going to trip you, like he did before?
Much is being made now of Bill Clinton's odd role in his wife's campaign. About how much he talks about himself, that maybe he's worried Hillary will be a better president than he was, to what the The New York Times called the failure of Hillary's chief strategist Mark Penn and Clinton to "fully grasp the personality deficit that Mrs. Clinton had with voters."
Interesting that Hillary's political genius husband, who has been married to her for 33 years, failed to grasp that she might have a personality deficit with voters. Or maybe he grasped it all too well.
I've known relationships like the Clintons. A charming narcissist married to a brainy plain Jane. They may be intellectual equals but the fuckable one is the star. The star rarely relinquishes the stage to his sidekick.
People hate Hillary so much that it's easy to chalk up their marriage as a codependence-fest. Certainly nobody was a bigger enabler than Hillary. I always hoped it wasn't proof she wasn't a total chump, but because she saw the big picture: herself as president.
But I have a vivid memory of a 15-minute interview I had with Hillary when I was covering her for the AP during the 1992 Democratic Convention in New York.
We were alone together in the back of a van going to the next stop. My impression of her was tough, brittle, super-smart. At the very end of my interview, I asked her about Gennifer Flowers, since that was the Clinton scandal du jour in 1992.
I was amazed when her face and entire demeanor completely changed. She seemed instantly wounded. Far from being mad at me for asking the question, or keeping her game face on, she seemed truly vulnerable. It did not seem fake.
She drew back from me and said, "It's not true!," almost like a teenage girl. Her voice was higher than usual and it sounded like a cry.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Bill is just eternally conflicted, not subconsciously Machiavellian, and two old pros who love a fight will figure out a way to make Hillary the second Clinton "Comeback Kid."
But if I had to bet, I wouldn't roll the dice for a Clinton victory. In fact, I'm wondering if the dice Hillary rolled so long ago, when she sacrificed her own career in Washington to join Bill in Arkansas, is coming up snake eyes.
And I wonder if her insistence so long ago that she was no Tammy Wynette, standing by her man, is coming back to haunt her.
Bill Clinton got his moment in the sun, eight years actually. Will Hillary get her shot?
The lyrics of "Stand by Your Man" are telling.
"You'll have bad times," Wynette sang. "He'll have good times."