Thursday, February 28, 2008

'Hillary, Buckeye Girl'

From Gail Collins in Zanesville, Ohio.

If Hillary Clinton were a state, she’d be Ohio.

This is a no-frills kind of place, suspicious of glamour. Barack Obama’s promise to make politics cool again doesn’t necessarily resonate here. Eight presidents came from Ohio, and the coolest was William McKinley.

When I grew up in Cincinnati, we always rooted for the players who worked really, really hard, not the ones who were so talented they made everything look easy. If Hillary were a baseball player, she’d be Pete Rose. Minus, of course, the unfortunate gambling issues and the tendency to scratch inappropriate places while standing in the infield.

So there she was Wednesday here in Zanesville, holding an economic summit in a gymnasium with a huge table stuffed full of participants, including the founder of Weight Watchers; former Senator John Glenn, the heroic astronaut who once put the entire Democratic presidential convention to sleep with his keynote speech; and the governor of Ohio, a vice presidential hopeful who looks like an unidentified passer-by.

“We have to start acting like Americans again, and roll up our sleeves and start solving our problems,” Clinton said, launching one of the least-exciting discussions of economic development in memory.

There she sat, one of the best-known human beings on the planet. The first woman ever to be a serious United States presidential contender; the face that launched a thousand books; a former first lady, current U.S. senator and survivor of the most famous sex scandal of the century. And yet she has managed to become the boring candidate in this primary.

This is one of the great anti-glamour stories in history. How could Ohio not relate?

If Hillary can win this one — and if she doesn’t, she is as cooked as reheated risotto — it will be because people here worry that Barack Obama is getting show-offy. . . .

You don’t often see a candidate on a trajectory like Obama’s, and at some point it will inevitably head down again. But until it does, even the original Bill Clinton would have a hard time beating him.

If things don’t go well for Hillary over the next few weeks, some of her consultants may need retraining for a promising new career in, say, motel management, but here’s what I hope she understands. She’s done fine. And she’d probably have won the nomination walking away if Barack hadn’t picked this moment to mutate into BARACK!

You do your best, and if things don’t work out, it just wasn’t your time. Life isn’t always fair.

All of which Ohio understands very well.

NYT story here.

No comments: