In the Arena

Sympathy for Hillary

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I take all of Karen’s points below–and the fact that Clinton mentioned Bobby Kennedy’s assassination in conversation with Rick Stengel in March shows that Obama’s vulnerability to racist nutjobs has been in her mind for months now–but still, I have a certain amount of sympathy for her. The woman is clearly exhausted.

And I’d also argue this: Hillary Clinton seems calculating because she isn’t very good at it. Her husband is. In my experience, she’s more a policy wonk than a calculating pol…but having watched Bill do this–and quite brilliantly, thank you–she has learned the wrong lesson: that fudging and calculation are the only way to win. And so she over-calculates–her famous drivers licenses for immigrants answer(s)–or she constructs false analogies (These things aren’t over until June)–and then she screws up trying to sell them.

I may be among the few journalists who actually likes Clinton. She’s a fine person, who takes her job–and the public good–seriously. I certainly value her service as my Senator. And I haven’t joined the chorus of those who want her to quit–that’s up to her. But it is extremely sad to watch this. It’s sad to see her desperate and making mistakes that may haunt her in the future. I hope, in the wake of this, she takes a deep breath–and a day off–and thinks carefully about how she wants to play out the rest of this campaign.