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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

HILARIOUS RODHAM CLINTON: Our codependent former copresident didn't have the chops to be a successful athlete, couldn't be an astronaut, was too panicky around blood to be a doctor, got lousy math and science grades ... so she settled for a career in law and is now a very ambitious politician. Is this a teaser for the latest anti-Hillary book? Nope, it's Mrs. Bill Clinton's own account of how she settled for politics and law because she lacked the basic qualifications for everything else she attempted. Previously busted for inflating her resume (claiming that she was named after mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary), the Democrat's 2008 frontrunner now seems to be test-marketing the opposite approach, namely representing herself as not quite measuring up, "I'm just an ordinary citizen like the rest of you." What a joke. Yet with each successive self version she presents, my eagerness for Hillary's presidential candidacy grows. This is because for me it's axiomatic that one's CQ ("character quotient") only becomes more obvious as we commit ourselves to life choices that reveal the substance we're made of, especially the substance we lack. Richard Nixon's final months in the White House were instructive in this regard, especially his "I am not a crook" news conference and of course that famously maudlin final White House remarks in which it seemed he was on the verge of full-blown decompensation without a psychiatric safety net to catch him. Watching Hillary is like watching the early 1990s TV series (I'm dating myself here) Twin Peaks, macabre and irresistably suggestive of a dark secret soon to be revealed. Shakespeare's tragedies work this way, but on a far more complex and elevated level. Catharsis, purging of the audience's psyche, all that good stuff. It seems Hillary operates from so a glaring deficit of authenticity that she will say practically anything. It's almost like she's goading us to reject her, yet her narcissism finds rejection unacceptable; there's the rub. (Bill's got the same thing going, only with likeability and often charm.) Teenagers typically conduct auditions in the domain of selfhood; it's how we make important adolescent discoveries about ourselves. We experiment to find out who will accept or reject us and do we have what it takes to be who we really are. At some point a psychologically healthy person settles on being real as the baseline norm of his or her existence. This doesn't mean we don't continue to make mistakes, fail, or stray from the company of our better angels. We most certainly do. When persons of integrity blow it, they cop to it and then find their way back to integrity, not least by apologizing to those they hurt, lied to, or otherwise damaged. Not Hillary. And certainly not her husband. (They are still, like, married, right?) This is a couple who, like Tom and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, have “always retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” Just before the House impeachment vote, David Schippers, chief counsel to the House impeachment effort, memorably declared, “There’s no one left to lie to.” Oh, really? Let’s find out. On with the presidential campaign.