Republicans for Hillary, Part 4
Hillary Clinton's under-the-radar presidential candidacy—which, as Chatterbox observed previously, was invented by conservative commentators to fulfill various practical and psychological imperatives and has no reality outside their imaginations—has ended. That's a relief! With the passage of time, the real Hillary Clinton's repeated denials that she was running for president in 2004 grew more and more plausible, putting the right in a real quandary. For awhile, the winger line (as laid down by Fox News) was that Hillary was waiting too long to file for the primaries, which only demonstrated that she didn't know the first thing about running a presidential campaign. How much nastier was this going to get? Chatterbox began to worry that Republicans would boycott her imaginary inauguration, and then (inevitably) would call for her make-believe impeachment. But New York Times columnist William Safire found a more graceful way to usher conservatives out of their collective psychosis.
According to Safire's construct, Hillary's presidential campaign suffered an unexpected and fatal blow on Nov. 7, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that nonfarm payroll employment had grown in October by 126,000. This, combined with the upward revision of the same figure for September, was immediately seized on by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and others as evidence that the "jobless" economic recovery was finally creating jobs. Previously, Safire explained (repeating some delusional analysis from an earlier column), Hillary had been using Wesley Clark as a stalking horse:
[L]et Dick Gephardt slow Dean down in Iowa, then push Clark hard enough to upset Dean in New Hampshire, or at least attract enough of the isolationist vote from Dean to let John Kerry squeak through. … [I]f the national economy had gone south, Hillary would have gone South with Clark on her ticket to take on an unemployment-ravaged Bush herself. But with the economy surging and Democrats robbed of their central issue, Hillary can wait till 2008.
It's insane, but not nearly so insane as continuing to pretend that Sen. Clinton will win the Democratic nomination this summer. The right owes Safire a debt of profound gratitude for leading this honorable retreat.
Republicans for Hillary Archive:
Oct. 15, 2003: The right denounces her incompetent presidential campaign.
Sept. 23, 2003: Why conservatives want her to run.
Sept. 22, 2003: Why does the GOP yearn for the former first lady to run for president?
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.