Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the Democratic Presidential nomination are now anywhere between 5 per cent to 20 percent. By rights she should be on her back, declared the loser by technical knockout. But not only is she standing; she is plunging ahead with a dogged ferocity.
In spite of Barack Omaha’s clear advantage in the popular vote and committed delegate tallies – a mathematical dominance unlikely to be reversed even in the remaining primary contests – Mrs. Clinton says she is being bullied by the “big boys” and vows to stay in the race until the democratic convention.
Her relentless campaign has inspired reporters variously to compare her, with a mixture of admiration and horror. Even the coughing spasms that have seizes her with alarming frequency these past few months have become an emblem of her fortitude. After she muscled her way through a foreign policy address, the New Yorker praised her ability to “suppress the coughing through sheer will.
So what makes Clinton run, even as her win at all cost strategy threatens her party’s chances against John McCain the republican candidate? The answer lies in her innately combative nature that drew Bill Clinton to her when “she was in my face from the start”. She is equally famous for a preternatural focus and what one of her friends called her “tunnel vision” along with a determination so unshakeable that her husband once told a visitor to the Oval office: “I might as well lift that desk and throw it out of the window to change her mind.” To reach her goals, she long ago learnt to embrace any tactic, however destructive.
For decades Mrs. Clinton has thought of herself as a woman of destiny. Even as a little girl “she would stand in a patch of sunlight” pretending “there was heavenly movie cameras watch my every move”. She willingly served in her husband’s shadow, in spite of the humiliations he inflicted on her with his womanizing on the assumption she would take her turn.
Back in 1974, Mr. Clinton said she could be president one day and one of their close friends remarked that when the Clintons “were dead and gone each of them is going to be buried next to a president of the United States.
The Clinton’s narrow escapes from political extinction haunt their memories like tribal drums in the night: from the suicide of their close friend Vincent Foster to an endless parade of scandals. In response they have built a fearsome political machine that attacks enemies and cuts loose friends they believe have wronged them.
A vital piece of this mythology is that, with the exception of Mr Clinton’s second race for governor in 1980, the Clinton’s do not lose in politics. The duo have spent their adult lives perfecting the permanent campaign, mastering its dark arts even as they went about the everyday business of governing.
But this time the dynamic is different, and therein lies the catch. To win in 2008, the Clinton’s have had to reverse their roles of Bill the candidate and Hillary his chief adviser and advocate. The demands of an unexpectedly tight campaign have brought out the worst in both of them, dragging their popularity ratings to new lows.
The virtuoso politician who feeds on the adulation of the rope-line suddenly finds himself playing an off-key second fiddle. The methodical, behind-the-scenes chief of staff finds herself center stage, her flatlander voice betraying a harsh edge as she experiments with slogans and personalities.
Mrs Clinton’s political mettle had never been tested. Her opponent in her 2000 Senate race was a lightweight and she had token opposition in 2006. Her candidacy for president was based on the assumption that she would face a weak field and again coast to victory.
Perhaps what propels Mrs. Clinton more than anything is a determination to prove she can be as good at politics as her husband, who she once said “makes it look so easy”. But months on the hustling have shown she lacks his legendary political talents.