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Monday, January 30, 2006

HILLARY'S CHANCES: If I had to bet, I'd wager against Hillary returning to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I might also be willing to put money down against her chances of winning the Democratic nomination. I went to see Hillary get interviewed by Jane Pauley in San Francisco last week. I wanted to see if I found her more impressive in public than on TV. If anything, she came across as even more dull than usual. Her voice is flat and her command of the issues, though seemingly broad, conveys a robotic quality. Here's what I think about this woman. During Bill's rise to prominence, he knew how to create empathy by shmoozing in public while Hillary was well known for the ferocity of her behind-the-scenes opinions. Now that she's front and center and Bill's in the background, she's decided she needs to modulate her passion lest her barely concealed shrillness peek through. The result of her tamped-down tone: Hillary conveys that she's working very hard to keep herself in check. Kind of like a person controlling her breathing patterns in order to pass a lie-detector test. Apparently she and her handlers think this will make her less offensive to red state males, but it also serves to make her not exactly a rock star in the eyes of the people who vote in Democratic primaries: left-loons who thrive on rhetorical red meat. It's one thing for Hillary to benefit from the aura of "presumptive nominee and possible first woman president" at this stage of the game. It's another thing entirely for Hillary to take her current persona to the political stump: Iowa and New Hampshire. I wouldn't be surprised if she slips early and never recovers. Remember Ed Muskie? And let's not forget Geraldine Ferraro's alleged comment about President George Bush (the first) as the personification "every woman's first husband" or words to that effect. Parallel: Hillary has a way of coming across as the wife a lot of divorced men are glad to be done with. That's a necessary if not sufficient factor in my prediction that she's not going to make back to the White House. (Caveat: It's a long way to 2008 and the political dynamics are hard to calculate. Hillary, if nominated, will face off against some actual GOP candidate who will bring strengths and weaknesses of his or her own...)