The first sign of a campaign in trouble, like the last sign of a baseball team in trouble, is when they fire the manager. The Hillary Clinton for President campaign has dispensed with the services of Patti Solis Doyle. Doyle was not only guiding her current effort; she has been credited with leading Mrs. Clinton's 2000 campaign out of the doldrums and into the winner's circle. The only way to decapitate so capable a captain is by bringing in a real hatchet woman. And sure enough, the choice of replacement is none other than Maggie Williams.
Yes, there is an ethnic component here, as Maggie is an African American, which makes her, in the inane Democrat worldview, the answer to Obama. "You see, this lady is every bit as swarthy as you, yet she chooses me over you." On the other hand, Solis Doyle makes much of her Latina status, and Hillary desperately needs the Hispanic vote in the Texas primary. So in the world of the ethnos ethos, these two are more or less of a wash, and the change is hardly awash in significance.
However, there are other elements at play here, some fairly well known, plus one that I will reveal to you as an exclusive, from an inside source of impeccable accuracy.
Maggie Williams, you will recall, was the aide who carried all of Vince Foster's files out of his White House office after he died. A senior Secret Service agent, Henry O'Neill, approaching retirement after a distinguished career, testified to the grand jury that he had seen her with his own eyes. She denied it flat out, said no such thing ever happened. No explanation, no excuse, just looked this guy in the eyes and faced him down.
A big part of how she managed to avoid a major perjury conviction was by acting like a very small player. Although her position was officially designated as chief-of-staff to the First Lady, she and her colleagues made it seem like she was just a poor black woman who needed a job. Then-Senator Carol Moseley-Braun fumed about how a poor woman working to feed her family was being persecuted. For a while, she left the scene to take some kind of extended vacation in Paris...to relieve all that tension.
At one point Ms. Williams reported to a Senate committee that she had already paid $140,000 in legal bills, presumably out of her own pocket. Maureen Dowd, who often defended the Clintons, excoriated them in a column for letting a poor aide be saddled with such an immense expenditure due to their chicanery.
FAST FORWARD TO 2008 and, lo and behold, Maggie bears no grudge. You can choose to believe that she really paid that jumbo legal price tag and then came happily back to work for Mrs. Clinton, but I can draw my own conclusions. On top of that, you might well wonder how this gofer, this wallflower, this petty functionary, this accidental villain, this sheep in wolf's clothing, suddenly amassed political skills of such wattage as to render her an emergency replacement to manage a presidential campaign? It sure seems like we are missing a big piece in this picture.
Here is the answer. The fact is that Maggie Williams is a cutthroat political operative from long before the Clintons made it to the White House. She was the secret mastermind whom the Democratic National Committee sent out to run dirty attacks against Republican opponents of candidates the Party thought had an outside shot at a presumed safe Republican seat.
The following story comes, as I said, from an absolutely trustworthy source, and goes all the way back to 1982. That was the year of the first midterm election in Ronald Reagan's presidency. A young Democrat named Robert Torricelli was challenging an entrenched Republican Congressman named Harold Hollenbeck and making no headway. His local staff were hitting a brick wall. A call comes from Washington; the Party wants this one bad and they are sending a troubleshooter.
In comes Maggie Williams to take over. She scans Hollenbeck's record, finds no weak points. Then she notices the district has a relatively high crime rate. She calls the FBI for state-by-state crime rates and finds a few of the smaller states like Rhode Island and Wyoming have lower rates than that district in New Jersey. She writes an ad showing the names of these states in sequence, followed by an ominous voice-over: "Under Congressman Hollenbeck, this district has worse crime statistics than any of those entire States."
"The Torch" shot up in the polls and beat this poor oblivious guy, who was last seen mumbling about how crime rates have nothing to do with Congressmen. Maggie Williams is a tough Democrat street-fighter from the old school and Mr. Obama had best be watchin' his back.
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