Hillary Melts Down as Hope Evaporates

Like a little girl whose Chief Executive Barbie is falling from her fingertips into the sea, Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions are slipping tragically from her grasp. This may explain her increasingly unhinged behavior, which would be bad enough were she winning. To lose the Democratic nomination this way, however, is particularly pathetic.

*Consider her campaign’s reported peddling of a photo of Senator Barack Obama in traditional Somali clothing. Emerging soon before Tuesday’s Texas and Ohio primaries, this was more than a zany picture of an exotically dressed politician, like that of Clinton herself touring Vietnam in a sloped hat. This 2006 photo, snapped during a five-nation African fact-finding mission, could ignite suspicions that Obama is a closet Muslim, a turban-clad terrorist sympathizer, or that other surprises may lurk just beneath his black skin.

Team Clinton could have stamped out any suspicions they were behind this, just as forcefully as Team McCain doused the New York Times’ front-page “news story” asserting inappropriate ties between him and a female lobbyist. McCain’s top staffers and surrogates immediately denounced this gossip on TV and online. McCain personally rejected these allegations at a 9:00 AM press conference. By Noon, these accusations were extinguished, and the Old Gray Lady’s dwindling reputation was reduced to cinders.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s team quickly could have refuted the Drudge Report’s claim that they e-mailed this photo while writing: “Wouldn’t we be seeing this on the cover of every magazine if it were HRC?”

Instead, a senior Clinton staffer told Fox News Monday: “There are 700 people in our organization. We can’t be sure it didn’t come from us.” Clinton later said, “I know nothing about it.”

This would be more plausible if this were the Clinton Camp’s first suspected anti-Obama smear. Alas, as Obama’s political guru David Plouffe observed, “This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans.”

*At a February 21 debate, Clinton seemed especially conciliatory toward her rival. “I am honored to be here with Barack Obama,” she said, shaking his hand. “I am absolutely honored.”

Two days later in Cincinnati, she came undone.

“Shame on you, Barack Obama!” Clinton snapped. Like a diesel-powered dental drill, she squealed: “Enough with the speeches, and the big rallies, and then using tactics that are right out of Karl Rove’s playbook.”

Clinton somehow suddenly discovered leaflets that Obama’s campaign has mailed out for weeks in Ohio. She complained that Obama portrayed her as pro-NAFTA, though she now says she wants the pact renegotiated or scrapped.

Obama’s perspective is correct.

“I think everybody is in favor of free and fair trade,” Hillary Clinton said in 1996. “I think NAFTA is proving its worth.”

In her 2003 book, “Living History,” Clinton warmly calls NAFTA one of her husband’s “legislative victories.”

“I think, on balance, NAFTA has been good for New York and America,” she said in 2004.

Obama finds Clinton’s malleability on NAFTA puzzling.

“She has essentially presented herself as co-president during the Clinton years,” he said. “So, the notion that you can selectively pick what you take credit for and then run away from what isn’t politically convenient, that doesn’t make sense.”

*As columnist Robert Novak reports, “Clinton insiders want to spread the message that Obama represents the radical left-wing politics of George McGovern’s 1972 candidacy, which won only one state.” Clinton insider Harold Ickes told journalists Monday — the New York Daily News noted — “had superdelegates been at the ’72 convention they may have had a different assessment about George McGovern.”

This disrespect for McGovern rings hypocritical, since Hillary Clinton and her then-boyfriend, Bill, campaigned for McGovern in Texas in 1972.

“I think that if we can elect her president, she’ll be a greater president even than her brilliant husband,” McGovern said when he endorsed Hillary Clinton last fall.

Polls show Texas and Ohio voters cooling toward Clinton. They clearly see what now is beyond disguise: The big ideas fueling Hillary Clinton’s candidacy are blonde ambition, an unbecoming sense of entitlement, and a thirst for power that all the Gatorade in Gainesville could not quench.