Monday, February 11, 2008

Arkansas Gothic

Someone ought to write an opera about the Clintons. The Kennedys are a Marlowe play; the Bushes are a spaghetti Western; the Clintons are pure opera. Even their partisans have to descend into the possibility of double- and triple-crossing to strive to comprehend them:

So here’s a crazy theory that occurred to me the other day, and that gets more plausible the more I think about it: Clinton’s comments were calculated, but they may have been more sinister than even the activist I met knows. Clinton–perhaps subconsciously–was sabotaging his wife’s campaign.

Crazy? Maybe. But bear with me, here. Clinton had to have known that marginalizing Obama wouldn’t work. He knows Obama is a talented politician, that he isn’t a demagogue like Jackson, and that he has already demonstrated that he can attract white voters in large swaths–Obama certainly didn’t win Iowa by dominating the black vote, did he?

So why would Clinton do it? Well, maybe he doesn’t want his wife to be president.

They don’t come much more alpha male than Bill Clinton. The guy’s a walking erection. I can’t imagine anything more emasculating to an alpha-alpha like Bill than to watch his wife arc over him–for her to become more powerful than he. Actually, it’s quite a bit worse than that. Hillary Clinton was on the verge of not only becoming more powerful than Bill, she was ready to become the most powerful person on the planet. Not only that, she was about to do so by assuming the very office Bill once held, but (probably) won’t ever hold again. Bill, on the other hand, would be relegated to first lady. I can’t see how that wouldn’t mess with the psychology of a guy like Clinton.

More to support my theory: It’s pretty clear that Hillary Clinton’s reputation and public image have never been of much concern to Bill Clinton. He has publicly humiliated his wife over and over and over again, then counted on her to stand by him in the interests of his career–at which point he inevitably turns around and humiliates her again. It isn’t all that hard to believe that a guy who’s alpha enough to risk his entire political career and presidential legacy for a few hummers from a pudgy intern might subconsciously sabotage his wife’s ascent to power, is it?

Though this be madness, yet there's method in it. It seems to me less crazy, at least, than believing Bill Clinton really did learn a lesson about the basics of campaigning after the South Carolina primary. That man knew everything he needed to know about campaigning when he was 12.