She once described herself as "the most famous person you know very little about." But as she careens across the country in a desperate attempt to rescue her campaign, America is coming to know Hillary Clinton all too well.
The tenacity that even critics praised suddenly looks tawdry. The persistence against impossible odds appears anything but noble. Long after the party is over, Clinton's refusal to go home is taking on the trappings of a sad spectacle.
Her inability to accept defeat is not, it seems clear, about public service or even politics. It is merely personal.
With Barack Obama on a glide path to the Democratic nomination - he has insurmountable leads in delegates and popular votes - Clinton's cringe-inducing performance is doing what her harshest critics never could. It has ripped away any pretense that she actually stands for something.
The conventional portrait of her as an unflinching, devoted partisan has been proven wrong. Partisanship, it turns out, was just another fig leaf hiding a singular allegiance.
Politics has been a male narcissists' playpen, but Hillary is showing she doesn't take a backseat to any of the boys, including her hubby. Consider a few of her recent zig-zags in an incoherent bid to outflank Obama.
A year ago, she affected a bad Southern drawl as she quoted a black hymn in an Alabama church. Now she emphasizes her blue-collar roots as she summons cameras to record her downing a shot with factory workers in Pennsylvania.
In the blink of a campaign eye, she went from Rosa Parks to Rosie the Riveter. Did she care if we noticed, or did she assume we wouldn't?
She once likened the House of Representatives to a "plantation" in front of black audience, but now touts her base of white support. She once stood mute as Rep. Charles Rangel called President Bush "our Bull Connor," a reference to the infamous 1960s police commissioner who turned water hoses on civil rights marchers, but now she employs a bare racial calculus.
In a newspaper interview, she cited how "Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
She's right on the facts, but saying it that way after a career of flaying Republicans for courting whites should at least make her blush. But it's all of a recent piece.
Her anti-Iraq vow, "If George Bush doesn't end this war, I will," is replaced by a threat to "obliterate" Iran. She taps her personal piggy bank for more than $11 million so she can portray herself as defender of the middle class.
The wince-a-minute circus seems like a saboteur's effort to prove she will do anything to win, including trying to change the rules.
All along, everybody used 2,025 as the number of delegates denoting a nominating majority, but her spokesman last week called 2,025 "a phony number." The claim is part of Clinton's argument that delegates from Michigan and Florida must be included.
That's now, but when the Democratic National Committee was eliminating those states' delegates for holding their primaries in January, Clinton was on board.
She has revealed Obama's weaknesses among working-class whites, and she has been right about his lack of experience, but she has been rejected by voters as an alternative. Against that fact, she sounds almost delusional in arguing to superdelegates she would be a better general election candidate. On the basis of what?
Indeed, after her narrow victory in Indiana and his landslide win in North Carolina, she is now further behind in delegates and no closer in the popular votes than she was before the Pennsylvania primary.
So even while Obama was going through the roughest patch of the campaign, with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his own slight of small-town Americans threatening to undermine him, Clinton couldn't persuade voters she should be the nominee.
Which explains why she is calling the rules unfair. The only thing she hasn't done is blame them on "the vast right-wing conspiracy."
Actually, she came close to doing the opposite. In a TV interview, she faulted her party's way of apportioning delegates, and said, "If we had the Republican rules, I would already be the nominee."
So don't count her out just yet. Perhaps she's thinking of running against "the vast left-wing conspiracy" of her own party.