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Clinton Clouds on the Horizon

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By Richard Cohen
Thursday, August 14, 2008; 10:40 AM

"It sure is nice to be back here in Hawaii, sitting on the beach with Michelle and the girls, just staring out at the ocean and up at the sky. Just look at those magnificent clouds. They look like what's on my mind. That one's shaped like Ohio. And that one looks like Virginia. Whoa! What's with that one? It looks like a woman in a pantsuit. God, it's getting so I see Hillary everywhere.

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"Hillary and Bill and Bill and Hillary. Give 'em a place at the convention. Let 'em have a roll call vote. Let her speak. Let him speak. Pay off her debt. Why? It's her debt. If I had lost, would the Clintons be paying off mine? Fat chance. Uh-oh, that cloud's getting closer.

"The Gallup poll has me and McCain about tied. Tied! I should be killing him. But look at the recent numbers. Me up by a little and then he comes up and then it's me again. On a graph it looks like the brain scan of a dead man. I've got to do something. That cloud's coming right at me.

"If there's a single demographic I should have but don't, it's white women. I beat McCain by almost 10 points with women in general, but he beats me with white women by six. Those are Hillary's people. She kept winning them in the primaries. Working-class white women love Hillary. I understand. They know what it's like to be kicked around by life. What's up with that cloud? It looks like it's getting bigger.

"I've got to do something dramatic. I got no bump from my overseas trip -- 200,000 people in Berlin and the polls hardly budged. I'll definitely get a bump from the convention, but so will McCain. I'll cream him in the debates just on the visuals alone, but I've got to remember I didn't always do so well in the Democratic primary debates. Just to make sure, I've got to make an exciting pick for vice president. It's just amazing how that cloud looks like woman in a pantsuit.

"Evan Bayh? Who's kidding who? What did Evan Bayh ever do? The man's a cliche machine. Tim Kaine? We need Virginia, but Kaine's got no foreign policy experience at all. Who's left? Bill Richardson? Good man, but he couldn't win a single primary. Wow, just look at that cloud!

"Sam Nunn. Just plain awesome on nuclear proliferation. Really respected. But the gays won't forgive him for some of his positions in the senate. Maybe a woman. But if I pick Kathleen Sebelius or Janet Napolitano, it would be like I'm just picking a woman because she's a woman. We all know who the obvious woman is. And balancing the ticket like that is the old, old politics. I'm the new politics, change and all of that. Uh-oh, that cloud looks mean.

"Kennedy picked Johnson. He hated him, but he picked him anyway, and they won. Reagan chose Bush. They battled each other in the primaries, but in the end Reagan was big enough to take him. I mean, sometimes you've got to face reality. This is politics. Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. Something like that. That cloud -- it's worrying me.

"I mean, why not? She'd be an exciting choice -- unify the party and all of that. She'd bring in some of those white women and maybe some of their white husbands as well. All the polls say so. Trouble is, she also brings in Bill. What's with him, anyway? I don't blame him for being a bit angry for being called a racist. If Bill Clinton is a racist, the word has no meaning. But he just hates that I won. Still, he could be handled. Make him Middle East negotiator. Wow, just look how dark that cloud has gotten.

"My people would scream bloody murder if I picked Hillary. They'd say, 'What about change?' So I'd say, 'Isn't a black man and a white woman on the ticket the ultimate in change? In fact, isn't it revolutionary?' That would be more than rhetoric, it would be true. Imagine! Just look at that damn cloud. Looks like rain.

"I'd better gather my stuff and get out of here. Can't believe that cloud is following me. Looks like I'm in for a real storm. Dylan had it just right: 'You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.'"

cohenr@washpost.com


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