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Billary's Adventures in Primaryland

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Be what you would seem to be -- or, if you'd like it put more simply -- Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."

-- The Duchess in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Which gets me to that superficially charming, self-absorbed couple Billary, ever so possessed with an outsize sense of entitlement. What else to call Bill and Hillary Clinton as they partner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, tag-teaming Barack Obama with alternating blows both above and below the belt? It's an act the twosome plans to take all the way to the White House.

If they make it there -- a big if -- the only unanswered question is where Bill will choose to hang his hat. Will it be in her old space in the East Wing, or will he set up shop in the West Wing?

Smart money is on Billary settling in the Oval Office with "his" and "hers" desks.

Who would have thought, eight years ago, that the country might get back Billary, two people reeking of self-pity and spoiling for fights with anyone who has the temerity to stand in their way?

As with the Queen in "Alice," it's all about them. Witness their attempts to devalue Obama.

But don't point that out to the Clintons. They are always right and see no reason to apologize or take back anything they have said or done. And, as we have seen, Billary will say and do anything to come out ahead.

Item: Hillary's claim to "35 years of experience." Subtract her years spent as first lady of Arkansas and in the White House, and her time working as a lawyer in the Rose Law Firm and in other jobs. As Reason Magazine's Steve Chapman reported in November, Hillary Clinton has "just under eight years of experience in elective office -- one more than John Edwards and four fewer than Obama." And, to boot, Hillary the Feminist has her man to fight her battles.

Item: Bill Clinton's jab at Obama's lack of experience. To elect Obama would be to "roll the dice," sniffed the former president. When Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, he was governor of a small state, had no foreign policy experience and didn't know how to salute. He got his on-the-job experience in the White House.

Item: Hillary's complaint that it's hard to pin down Obama. Look who's talking. For a refresher, read Stuart Taylor's Dec. 11 column in the National Journal, " Honesty: Hillary's Glass House." Taylor carefully lays out Hillary's estranged relationship with the truth and her tendency to resort to lies and deceptions when caught in a tight spot. He takes us down memory lane, citing examples of her dishonesty in episodes such as Travelgate, cattle futures, the removal of the Vince Foster documents, Castle Grande, billing records and her husband's philandering.

Item: Her putdown of Obama's oratory and her suggestion that he's only interested in talking, while she's a "doer." "Dr. King's dream began to be realized," she said, "when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act. . . . It took a president to get it done."

Hillary grabbed the wrong talking points. It took more than a president to get it done. Without leaders of the civil rights movement working with Northern Democrats and their Republican allies in Congress, there would not have been civil rights or voting rights bills in the '60s.

Her remarks betray an ignorance of what happened back then. For a better understanding, pick up a copy of Nick Kotz's "Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Laws That Changed America." Chapters 10 and 11 and the section "The President Under Fire" help shed light on all the people who actually did the heavy lifting.

Item: Billary loves to whine about the "politics of personal destruction." But Billary's campaign has taken to the low road, running ads falsely accusing Obama of supporting federal deficits and private Social Security accounts, and distorting his position on hot-button issues such as abortion. Newark Mayor Corey Booker, who branded the attacks "outrageous" and "dishonest," told Newsweek's Jonathan Alter: "We're trying to offer an alternative to the Republicans' fear and smear campaigns, and now we're being dragged down to their level by the Clintons."

One thing's for sure: A Clinton administration will be a four-year co-presidency with all of the drama that Billary has managed to bring to every undertaking.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves and start worrying about tomorrow. Billary gives us enough to worry about today. kingc@washpost.com

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