I know the elegant and gracious Peggy deserves a better headline. But I couldn't resist.
This was an unusual Peggy Noonan column, as close to a "notes" column as she will probably ever get, taking on three different subjects. I was intrigued by the middle passage about Hillary. As usual, Peggy offers great insight into Hillary's appeal or, better put, lack thereof.
This thought occurs that Hillary Clinton's entire campaign is, and always was, a Potemkin village, a giant head fake, a haughty facade hollow at the core. That she is disorganized on the ground in Iowa, taken aback by a challenge to her invincibility ... That she's scrambling chaotically to catch up, with surrogates saying scuzzy things about Barack Obama and drug use, and her following up with apologies that will, as always, keep the story alive.
Noonan notes that Hillary's "almost universally disliked" pollster Mark Penn is blowing Iowa for her, running her as "a defacto incumbent," just one sign that top officials in her campaign have never had a real understanding of Iowa's non-urbane dynamics.
This is true of Mrs. Clinton and her Iowa campaign: They thought it was a queenly procession, not a brawl. Now they're reduced to spinning the idea that expectations are on Mr. Obama, that he'd better win big or it's a loss. They've been reduced too to worrying about the weather. If there's a blizzard on caucus day, her supporters, who skew old, may not turn out. The defining picture of the caucuses may be a 78-year-old woman being dragged from her home by young volunteers in a tinted-window SUV.
I can totally see that happening. But I think the defining picture of Hillary's campaign is this:
But the really insightful part of this passage by Noonan is her take on Bill Clinton's effect on Hillary's campaign. He's out there, in New Hampshire and Iowa and everywhere else, drawing big crowds wherever the Mr. Bill show plays.
... the the logic, was this: People miss Bill. They miss the '90s. They miss the pre-9/11 world. So they'll love seeing him back in the White House. So they'll vote for Hillary. Because she'll bring him. "Two for the price of one."
It appears not to be working. Might it be that they don't miss Bill as much as everyone thought? That they don't actually want Bill back in the White House?
Maybe. But maybe it's this. Maybe they'd love to have him back in the White House. Maybe they just don't want him to bring her. Maybe they miss the Cuckoo's Nest and they'd love having Jack Nicholson's McMurphy running through the halls. Maybe they just don't miss Nurse Ratched. Does she have to come?
Devastating. But, hopefully, true.