UPDATE: Turns out it didn't really matter whether anyone showed up. It was a world class mega-mess of a debate. Vapid questions. Intrusive moderators. Non-issues. Nit-picky weirdness. And those were the good things. Shame on you, ABC!!
People, people! I finally figured it out. All that snarly crap emanating from the Hillary Clinton campaign? It’s really a gesture of goodwill. Yup. Those fine folks are all about the business of girding Barack Obama’s loins for battle with the dark side. No, no. I mean the really dark side. Darker than James Carville’s attitude. Darker than Mark Penn’s soul.
All of which explains why there’s so much chatter today about how negative Hillary should be/must be in tonight’s debate with Obama in Pennsylvania. Will it be slap-on-the-hand snark or Tonya Harding kneecap-busting? The thing is, it could go either way. Because if we haven’t learned anything else in the past few months, we know it’s not possible to second-guess which Hillary will show up. Read on.
So far, her personae have included (but are not limited to) the broker of Irish peace and the plucky First Lady under siege in Bosnia. She's been the teary-eyed woman whose lifelong laryngitis was miraculously cured, allowing her to find her voice. There is the righteously indignant, beleaguered victim of the press. The stand-up comic who mocks the possibility that Obama may embody some goodness. The ever-vigilant woman by the phone in the wee small hours, fully dressed, doing Sudoku while the phone rings and rings.
Then there is her self-proclaimed likeness to Rocky Balboa, the aging fictitious has-been whose improbable story grew tedious after Rocky 17. Most recently, she has been channeling Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke fame, knocking back straight shots with the guys. And speaking of shots, there’s her new gun-totin' sharp-shooter persona. Did you say "pandering"? How cynical!
I heard that Penn’s parting suggestion for this debate was to prep Hillary to channel Vlad the Impaler. See, if she’s really going to show Obama what it’s like to be (mixed metaphor alert) in the crosshairs of a savage (alert ends here), what better way than that? Picture this.
Hillary enters the debate set, dressed in faux animal skins (it’s okay, PETA), dragging a kitchen sink behind her. She springs onto the desk and crouches in front of Obama, wielding a sharp stake, exuding menace and breathing whiskey into his hopelessly naïve face. Every time he uses the word “hope” or its variations, she rolls her eyes and smacks him upside the head. And all the while, she chants without ceasing: “bitter, bitter, bitter” (smack!) “bitter bitter” (smack!) “bitter” (smack!) “and one to grow on,” she snarls playfully (smack!).
This is what unity is all about, my friends. Experiential learning. Hillary Clinton actually has Barack Obama’s best interests at heart. You didn’t know that, did you? I’m a little verklempt about it myself, frankly. And just so you know? I used to respect Hillary Clinton. She had me fooled, too.
See you at the debate tonight. Bring popcorn.