The real Hillary Clinton stood up at the Democratic presidential debate this week: angry, sarcastic, stubborn, secretive, arrogant, mired in the past, victim of the media, and still firmly convinced that she is uniquely entitled to the Democratic Party nomination and the presidency.
That Hillary hasn't really been on display much since the debacle of her disastrous health care plan and the end of Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, when she haughtily flaunted her combative personality.
But make no mistake about it that's the Hillary Clinton that we'll see if she somehow manages to steal the Democratic nomination.
She's found her voice. The one that so alienated everyone she came into contact with over her health care plan that her own party destroyed it. The one that publicly and loudly defended Bill and arranged for attacks on Monica Lewinsky when she knew the complete and sordid truth.
She's always had a chip on her shoulder and a strange paranoia, but it's definitely gotten worse. Now it's not just the vast right wing conspiracy that is out to get her. Now it's the mainstream media. How are they doing that? By asking her the first questions at the debates!
Hillary's snide comment about whether Barack needed a pillow to be made more comfortable was downright embarrassing. The anticipated applause line on her script never happened. The audience was silent. The press was amazed. And Barack seemed genuinely startled by her nuttiness he looked over at her as if he was viewing a dotty old aunt at a family dinner, the one that everyone politely humors.
Her lifelong pattern of secrecy was once again evident. While publicly promoting transparency in government, she steadfastly refuses to release her personal income tax returns. That's a clear tip-off that there's something to hide. Recall that the Clintons selectively released tax returns in Arkansas, but refused to go back to 1980, when Hillary had her windfall in cattle futures.
During the debate, Hillary suggested that she'd release the returns "soon," but her staff quickly backtracked. She implied that she's been too busy to deal with releasing the returns. Does she really think anyone believes that it will take more than simply making a copy of the return? She's stalling and there's a reason for that.
Most likely, the return will show how much Bill has been making from his partnership with the Sheik of Dubai and his other business ventures. Should the spouse of a presidential candidate be in business with a foreign leader who needs favors from the U.S. government? Definitely not. That's why we'll never see those returns.
And then there are the Clinton Library records that document her schedule as first lady. She doesn't want them released either because they will definitively show that she was never the co-president. The Library has been stalling on the release of those documents for years. During the debate, she said that she wanted them released as quickly as possible and seemed to blame the Bush administration for the delay. But today, the White House indicated that she had made no requests for any expedited release.
The old Hillary, the real Hillary, is back.
And there's apparently been no one to stop her from acting on her own worse instincts.
Underneath the veneer of the practiced smile and the strategically used giggle, there is a rage that is always close to the surface. It was on display in the debate.
Hillary Clinton is furious that America has not agreed to her coronation. She doesn't understand why voters are rejecting her and embracing Barack Obama. She just doesn't get it.
Never one to engage in self reflection, she can't blame herself or even her incompetent strategists and advisers. They're too close to her. She can't accept the sorry fact that her campaign has been a disaster because it was based on the past and not the future, because it was premised on her phony experience and maintaining the status quo, and because her negative outlook is completely out of step with the mood of America. And finally, because in the positive message of Barack Obama, Americans see a stark contrast with her doom and gloom view of the world.
So, she'll blame the media. It's their fault.
And she'll keep screaming about what a fighter she is.
More like a bully.