You know the old joke. Sam is attracted to Bernice, and tries to tempt her by speaking of his family’s wealth. “My father is almost ninety,” he says. “And when he passes on I stand to inherit a hundred million dollars.”
Sure enough, the lure proved irresistible. Before a month had passed she was hooked. A Las Vegas wedding was celebrated and then it was official… Bernice was now Sam’s stepmother.
Something of the sort has happened to Hillary Clinton. She told the Democratic Party that the time had come for a new generation, a fresh vision of governance, a horizon of hope, a passion for progress. They listened attentively and decided to take her at her word… so they voted for Barack Obama, who looks to be a better bet to deliver those things. Or at least the Democrat version thereof.
She still may win, if the current poll numbers hold. But the romance, the panache, the cachet, the aura, the halo, the laurel, the tiara, the luster, the sizzle are all gone. They were rudely confiscated by Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, and then Uncle Edward Kennedy, Senator from Mass., joined in stomping on the last few flowers. These Kennedys branded Hillary, even if she prevails, as an old school rough-and-tumble machine pol who symbolizes no ideal beyond that of personal ambition.
All this began on Sunday, when the New York Times ran an essay by Caroline Kennedy saying she would support Obama because he was capable of inspiring a generation to great heights in a manner reminiscent of her late father.
Clearly she is on to something. Obama can inspire people to avoid buying health insurance and count on wealthy people being taxed by the government to pay for their care. He can inspire young people to attend university for free on the public dime. In fact, he can inspire each of us to ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you. How is that for coming full circle? If not for my unfortunate fear of heights, I could share in the inspiration myself. There may well be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow coalition.
Think of the sting in this rebuke of the Clintons in general and Hillary in particular. How extraordinarily pedestrian do you have to be to render the idea of your being the first female president uninspiring?
Reading further in Ms. Kennedy’s monograph we find her seeming to throw a sop to Hillary when she says that the stands of both candidates on the issues are equally strong. On the surface, she is complimenting Hillary but in the subtle cutting way that the rich wound each other without overt attack, this actually makes her snub of Hillary more painful. If you disagree with someone’s ideas, that’s tolerable. But saying this is really cold: “Even when you present the set of ideas I would consider exciting, you cannot stimulate me to inspiration.”
Yet her most ruthless stab is reserved for Bill Clinton himself, nominally not the candidate but merely an enthusiastic spouse. Caroline’s last paragraph gives Bill the coup de grace: “I never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.”
Decoded that reads: “Bill Clinton met my father in the White House and built his entire life around the dream of becoming president and inspiring people the same way. Instead he got to the White House and laid a large egg. The last thing I need is for Mrs. Egg to take over. Now this Obama, he is a different story. He just might be the guy.”
There was no reason for her to add that line. It was a gratuitous swipe, not terribly gracious by any standard. She could have backed Obama, she could have labeled him inspiring, she could have compared him to her father, all without adding that she has “never” had a president to inspire her and “for the first time” she believes she has found the man who could be that president. Her endorsement of Obama echoes loudly, but her repudiation of Bill Clinton is shrieking into the night.
Oddly enough, Neil Diamond revealed just weeks ago that Caroline Kennedy was the inspiration for his song, Sweet Caroline. Nothing sweet about her annihilation of those hillbilly wannabes. The bitter taste in their mouth will be there for a very long time.
Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator. He also writes for Human Events.