In the classic joke, the candidate approaches a fellow politician to ask him for his backing. “I’m sorry,” the fellow demurs. “I already promised my support to your opponent.”
“Well, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that in politics, promising and doing are two very different things.”
“In that case, I will be glad to promise you my support.”
Something along these lines is happening to Hillary Clinton, and it couldn’t be happening to a nicer person. Or at any rate, it wouldn’t be happening to a nicer person. A lot of folks who pledged their support to her when she looked to be inevitable are now beginning to realize she may be in-Evita-able. They are still making noises to reassure her they are on board, but in the real world they are enviously eying the rats who are scurrying off the ship.
Say for example you are one of those black Congressmen from Brooklyn whose constituents voted 4-to-1 for Obama in the primary. You are still loudly proclaiming your fealty to your Senator, she who arranges your weekly pork delivery; you are huffily asserting your independence of thought, bristling at the notion that you might be swayed by such plebeian categories as the financial; you are testily deflecting any perceived contradiction between your role and the view expressed by your voters; and outside your office the streets are clotted with five thousand angry people chanting in unison.
Not what you signed up for back when you were an innocent fourteen-year-old and the local Democrat chieftain taught you the ins and outs of cutthroat neighborhood politicking. Not what you yearned for in your idealistic youth when you listened to all those empty promises liberals made. And now… what is the world coming to? Well, I’ll tell you.
Those same empty promises are being made again, this time by a black gent named Obama.
Old Jesse Jackson had it exactly right when he recently called one of Hillary’s black “committed” super delegates. “If it came down to one vote, yours, would you be prepared to go down in history as the black man who prevented the first black major-party Presidential candidate?” The fellow involved murmured that he would consider this argument, but you and I know better: Jesse knows his man. If it came down to that scenario, you can bet the house on that vote going to Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton. Say O, you can’t C, brother.
It sure looks from here like the woman who was cuckolded by one Democrat presidential candidate is about to get cold-cocked by another. When you crunch the numbers, Senator Obama is very close to building up an insurmountable margin. And even though Hillary is notoriously immune to margin calls, eventually all humans – Al Gore included – must surrender to the imperatives of mathematics. Sowing a lot of division will not enable her votes to multiply; only paramecia can multiply by dividing.
The part that I love best is the karma, or what is known in the Biblical tradition as being punished measure for measure. Many of us have forgotten how Hillary began her path to public prominence and power; it was by humiliating a black Republican, Senator Brooke of Massacheusetts, turning on him in her student commencement speech, the first of its kind in Wellesley, in 1969. She made this soft-spoken, elegant Senator seem like a running-dog-of-imperialism for the old establishment. He was nonplussed and had no real choice in the moment but to be her rhetorical punching bag.
Now fate has come full circle, and she has surmounted every obstacle to come within real striking distance of the top prize, her party’s candidacy for President of the United States.
Yet just when she arrived, when victory was in her grasp, when she was positioned to bring to a crescendo all the notes and chords of her life’s symphony, along comes one man to snuff out her dream.
And wouldn’t you know it, he is not only a Senator, he is an African-American. He has been sent, apparently, four decades later to even the score, to avenge the humiliation of the late Senator Brooke. Best of all is the complaint against her by this black Senator in arguing why she should be defeated: “She is the old establishment!” She is learning the hard way that what goes around comes around or, perhaps, what goes a round becomes a square.