Bill Clinton opens the old Bosnia wound.

Down and on the way out.
April 11 2008 1:34 PM

The Hillary Deathwatch

Bill Clinton opens the old Bosnia wound.

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Bill Clinton turns the conversation back to his wife's biggest weakness, Obama ticks off the grass roots, and Hillary laughs again—always bad news—sinking her back down 0.5 points to 9.7 percent.

Hillary Clinton's Bosnia wound was this close to healing—the cast was off, the skin had closed, she was just starting to walk again unassisted—when Bill decided to rip it open again. Twice! At a stop Thursday in Boonville, Ind., Clinton defended his wife (unprompted, mind you) by saying, "There was a lot of fulminating because Hillary, one time late at night when she was exhausted, misstated and immediately apologized for it, what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995." Never mind that she repeated the story several times, that the attention-getting March 17 speech occurred in the morning, and that she by no means "immediately apologized"—quite the opposite, it was a full week before she acknowledged that she "misspoke," which is not the same as apologizing. Oh, and the trip was in 1996, not 1995.

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Damage control, go! The Clinton camp hastened to explain Friday that it was "her mistake and she takes responsibility for it." But the toothpaste was out of the tube. Bill has demonstrated an uncanny ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. A quick review: He compared Obama to Jesse Jackson; he called Obama's opposition to the war a "fairy tale"; he exploded over Bill Richardson's Obama endorsement in a meeting with California superdelegates; and now he resurrects the most damaging story of the post-Feb. 5 race, if not the entire cycle. At this rate, he'll be caught in a janitor's closet with Geraldine Ferraro the day before Pennsylvania.

Luckily, Barack Obama is pissing off supporters, too. As California prepares its slate of delegates, both candidates are doing their best to weed out potential defectors. (Even pledged delegates can switch sides, remember?) Over the weekend, Clinton disqualified 40 people from the list. Obama, however, cut 900, angering a whole lot of Democrats. The campaign is now "revising" its list. In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, Obama has decided not to hand out "street money" to local party bosses. Apparently, it's a tradition in Philadelphia politics to furnish your campaign workers with small contributions. There's a word for this practice in other parts of the country—bribery—but, hey, when in Rome … Obama's refusal could rankle supporters in a place in which he desperately needs their help.

Meanwhile, another YouTube moment (read: televised humiliation) for Hillary. When a reporter asked her whether Bill Clinton's $800,000 in speaking fees from the Colombian government might constitute a conflict of interest, she let loose the longest, most mirthful guffaw we've ever heard out of her. Because conflict of interest is comedy gold. She finally managed to answer the question: "I am against the trade deal. It doesn't matter who talks to me." She should really stick to crying.

And because no omen goes unnoted at Deathwatch, we're obligated to mention that a Clinton campaign office in Terre Haute, Ind., caught fire last night. Who needs tea leaves when we have flaming headquarters?

For a full list of our Deathwatches, click here. For a primer on Hillary's sinking ship, visit our first Deathwatch entry. Send your own prognostications to hillarydeathwatch@gmail.com.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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