Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington
The LA Times describes how the heavens expressed themselves as Hillary reached the end of the road.
On Wednesday afternoon, Hillary Rodham Clinton visited her Arlington, Va., campaign headquarters and disclosed that she would finally concede her long primary fight. That same afternoon, a fierce storm system developed over northern Virginia and unleashed a tempest of high winds, driving rain and even a tornado. The heavenly outburst was a fittingly symbolic expression of the anger and frustration that defined the last days of a candidate who once seemed to have a lock on the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
The scene recalls the foreboding Shakespeare described at Caesar's as the Ides of March approached:
Nor heaven nor earth have been at peace to-night:
Thrice hath Calpurnia in her sleep cried out,
'Help, ho! they murder Caesar!' Who's within?
Caesar, I never stood on ceremonies,
Yet now they fright me. ...
When beggars die, there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
The reason Hillary lost to Obama, the LAT article argues, is that she became absorbed by Washington. Prior to which she and her husband were hungry, young, outsiders determined to "reform the system". Lulled by years in capital, she became an 'insider' -- part of the problem.
To understand this, flash back to the early 1990s. Bill and Hillary Clinton, like Barack Obama today, first ran against Washington, promising to shake up and reform the city's insular political system. Receiving these irreverent young Arkansans with suspicion, the capital's mandarins warned them to learn the ropes quick. "Washington has its own totems and taboos," the Georgetown hostess and former Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn wrote. "You have to run against 'inside Washington' to get in, and you have to become 'inside Washington' to stay in."
And having lost the outsider status, the LAT suggests the heir to the crusading mantle has fallen on the broad shoulders of another reformer from Chicago: Barack Obama.
Obama skillfully used the Iraq war to make a larger, devastating case about how Washington does business. His core themes of hope, change and judgment all flowed from the catastrophic war the Washington establishment had initiated. And Obama turned Clinton into the living representation of that establishment and its myopic vision. This was hardly a novel approach: Indeed, Obama's campaign had many echoes of Bill Clinton's run against George H.W. Bush, making it all the more remarkable that Hillary failed to anticipate its strength.
This of course, is pure revisionist hogwash. The idea of the Arkansas or Chicago machines coming to Washington in order to reform it is about as accurate as the idea that the Vandals came to Rome to clean it up. But it's fair to say that each successive waves of "outsiders" who come to Washington promise to do something wonderful. And to keep the illusion viable the props must constantly be changed. The Clintons initially looked the part. But in the intervening years they simply got too old, coarse and threadbare to keep the show going. When the freshness faded it became necessary to audition for a new outsider. Appearances are probably more important in politics than in conjury. The spangles fix our gaze on the stage while the real magic takes place behind the curtains.
Hat tip: Macho Response.
The real magic is in the illusion which takes one ordinary politician and invests him with the public's dreams; which makes him become the dream itself while in reality preserving the ordinary flack who periodically appears and disappears, never really leaving the stage. The original impetus to limited government may have been based on the realization that a political tableau always had to be kept at distance; acceptable as entertainment and never much more than that.
Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige"."
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