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The New York Times Writes Hillary’s Obituary

From a somber New York Times:

Somber Clinton Soldiers On as the Horizon Darkens

By PATRICK HEALY

February 24, 2008

To her longtime friends, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton sounds unusually philosophical on the phone these days. She rarely uses phrases like “when I’m president” anymore. Somber at times, determined at others, she talks to aides and confidants about the importance of focusing on a good day’s work. No drapes are being measured in her mind’s eye, they say.

And Mrs. Clinton has begun thanking some of her major supporters for helping her run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“When this is all over, I’m really looking forward to seeing you,” she told one of those supporters by phone the other day.

Mrs. Clinton has not given up, in her head or her heart, her quest to return to the White House, advisers say. But as resolute as she is, she no longer exudes the supreme confidence that was her trademark before the first defeat, in Iowa in January…

If she is not temperamentally suited to reckon with the possibility of losing quite yet, advisers say, she is also a cold, hard realist about politics — at some point, she is known to say, someone will win and someone will not.

She has a real military discipline that, now that times are tough, has really kicked into gear,” said Judith Hope, a friend and informal adviser to Mrs. Clinton, and a former chairwoman of the New York State Democratic Party. “When she’s on the road and someone has a negative news story, she says, ‘I don’t want to hear it; I don’t need to hear it.’ I think she wants to protect herself from that and stay focused.

“That said, she knows that there will be an end,” Ms. Hope said. “She is a very smart woman.”

Over take-out meals and late-night drinks, some regrets and recriminations have set in, and top aides have begun to face up to the campaign’s possible end after the Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4. Engaging in hindsight, several advisers have now concluded that they were not smart to use former President Bill Clinton as much as they did, that “his presence, aura and legacy caused national fatigue with the Clintons,” in the words of one senior adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity to assess the campaign candidly

Some aides said Mr. Penn and the former campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, had conceived and executed a terribly flawed campaign, something Ms. Solis Doyle disputes. Both she and Mr. Penn have been especially criticized as not planning a political strategy to compete in the primaries after Feb. 5…

There is a widespread feeling among donors and some advisers, though, that a comeback this time may be improbable. Her advisers said internal polls showed a very tough race to win the Texas primary — a contest that no less than Mr. Clinton has said is a “must win.” And while advisers are drawing some hope from Mrs. Clinton’s indefatigable nature, some are burning out.

Morale is low. After 13 months of dawn-to-dark seven-day weeks, the staff is exhausted. Some have taken to going home early — 9 p.m. — turning off their BlackBerrys, and polishing off bottles of wine, several senior staff members said.

Some advisers have been heard yelling at close friends and colleagues. In a much-reported incident, Mr. Penn and the campaign advertising chief, Mandy Grunwald, had a screaming match over strategy recently that prompted another senior aide, Guy Cecil, to leave the room. “I have work to do — you’re acting like kids,” Mr. Cecil said, according to three people in the room.

Others have taken several days off, despite it being crunch time. Some have grown depressed, be it over Mr. Obama’s momentum, the attacks on the campaign’s management from outside critics or their view that the news media has been much rougher on Mrs. Clinton than on Mr. Obama.

And some of her major fund-raisers have begun playing down their roles, asking reporters to refer to them simply as “donors,” to try to rein in their image as unfailingly loyal to the Clintons

“A lot of her friends are just feeling, ‘How could this be happening to her?’ ” said James Carville, a friend of the Clintons and a former strategist to Mr. Clinton. “It’s just hard to understand. She is a very sympathetic person. I hope it turns around for her.” …

On occasion she has looked backward. The strategy hatched by her advisers, her husband and herself — to run as an incumbent on a strength-and-experience message — was clearly not enough to carry her for 13 months. (It did work well for a time, if polls were any measure.) But mostly she has tried to look forward, and has pointedly not talked to her staff about the notion that she might drop out someday.

Hillary is incredibly tough — she grew up with two brothers and a strong father in the Midwest, so she knows a challenge,” said Ms. Solis Doyle, the former campaign manager, who has worked for her on and off since 1991 until she was replaced this month. “She has gone through so much, where someone like me would hide under the covers. But she gets up. She works. She tries.”

Nobody would ever suggest that Mrs. Clinton isn’t “trying.”

“When she’s on the road and someone has a negative news story, she says, ‘I don’t want to hear it; I don’t need to hear it.’ I think she wants to protect herself from that and stay focused.

Ah yes, just what we would want in a President.

Some aides said Mr. Penn and the former campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, had conceived and executed a terribly flawed campaign, something Ms. Solis Doyle disputes. Both she and Mr. Penn have been especially criticized as not planning a political strategy to compete in the primaries after Feb. 5.

Notice that it isn’t Hillary who is being blamed for running a terribly flawed campaign. No, she is still the smartest person in the world.

It’s not her fault that everything she has ever tried to do has failed miserably.

Still, what a weird piece this is, even for the New York Times. Is it a news article or an editorial or some insider gossip?

And, given that it is from The Times, one has to wonder about the motive.

Is it an attempt to make Hillary sound more human to get the sympathy vote? Or an effort to induce “buyers remorse” in the potential voter? Is it another tearing up ploy?

Or is it really the end of our long national nightmare?

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Sunday, February 24th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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