Ah, there's bad news this morning. Well, bad news for the Democrats. The news for the country is actually pretty good, but we have to remember whose side we're on.
This assessment of Democratic prospects seems harsh, but don't take my word for it. Here's Frank Rich, the distinguished columnist for the New York Times, dealing despair and the prospect of doom for his side:
"When President Bush started making noises about World War III, he only confirmed what has been a Democratic article of faith all year: Between now and Election Day he and Dick Cheney, cheered on by the mob of neo-con dead-enders, are going to bomb Iran.
"But what happens if President Bush does not bomb Iran? That is good news for the world, but potentially terrible news for the Democrats. If we do go to war in Iran, the election will indeed be a referendum on the results. ... But if we don't, the Democratic standard-bearer will have to take a clear stand on the defining issue of the race. As we saw once again at [the recent] debate, the front-runner, Hillary Clinton, does not have one."
That's not quite right. Hillary has a very clear stand on the war in Afghanistan/Iraq/Iran. It's identical to her stand on Social Security reform, health care, religion, politics, driver's licenses for illegals, global warming and, when it becomes fashionable again, global cooling. Hillary's for the national interest when those interests coincide with hers, and for Democrats (if it works out that way). First, she's foursquare for Hillary. Her bobbing, weaving, evading and trimming to slide through tiny loopholes that only she would attempt to slip through makes perfect sense.
It's not that she's against pursuing the war against radical Islamic terrorism (she's voted for that twice), or that she's necessarily for that war. Like most Democrats, she can coo like a dove and screech like a hawk, depending on who's there to listen. You might say she exercises a damsel's right to change her mind. (You might say that, but I wouldn't.)
Hillary's inconsistencies are actually no more glaring than those of her rivals; it's only that Hillary herself is more glaring. The sudden revelation of barnacles on her backside, as it were, was inevitable. She had become the inevitable Democratic nominee, and now the Iowa caucuses are on the horizon, we're within a year of the election, and the Democrats are taking their first cold stare at what life might be like with Hillary at the top of the ticket. And they thought Halloween was scary.
Her friends have never accused Hillary of being cute when she's mad, but her demonstration of panic under pressure at that last debate was enough to give even Bill, always cool under attack, the willies (and we don't mean Kathleen Willey). Accusing her rivals of "piling on" was not what even Democratic partisans expect of a big girl. Some of the feminists (remember them?) were displeased, too. Kate Michelman, who wants to give every woman in America an abortion, accused Hillary of retreating to the bad old days, "trying to have it both ways."
Eleanor Smeal didn't think roughing up Hillary was a sexist ploy, but a lot of her followers do. "You reap what you sow," one of them told her. "There's been discrimination against women for so long, and for once this is benefiting a woman." Barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, a woman never had to put up with cads unless she foolishly married one. But she could only dream of roughing it with the boys. If there's a law against a woman having it both ways, Hillary intends to repeal it.
Fair or not, running against a woman is always difficult for a male candidate. If he's any sort of man himself, he won't relish roughing her up. You don't have to be a Southern gallant to believe there's still a line a man shouldn't cross.
Playing the victim card is easier for Democrats than Republicans. Creating the nanny state, where everybody is entitled to a hug, is the major accomplishment of modern liberalism. So who better to run the nanny state than the nanny. Bombing Iran or not, Hillary no longer looks like a slam dunk.