Jewish World Review Nov. 28, 2003/ 3 Kislev, 5764

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Now to sabotage the sinking ship | Hillary Clinton supped on turkey and dressing with the troops in Afghanistan yesterday, though upstaged by George W. Bush in Baghdad, and naturally her visit renewed speculation that she's gearing up to save the party from Howard McDean.

The Clintons insist that this is not so, and since Bill and Hillary Clinton, like George Washington, would never, never, never tell a lie, we know that this must be true.

She will be in Iraq today, but only in search of "facts." She and her Democratic traveling companion, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, are "concerned" about whether George W. can win "the hearts and minds" of Iraqis.

"The administration is run by people who have been obsessed with Saddam Hussein for more than a decade," said the woman formerly known as the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock. "And the fact that they could have been so poorly informed and prepared raises a lot of serious questions about the decisions they are making now."

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You might think that Mrs. Clinton would be the last person in America to accuse anyone of making bad decisions about what to do about Saddam Hussein, since her husband — to whom she was chief adviser on everything but his selection of mistresses and party girls to stock the Oval Office pantry — took a pass on the opportunities he had to terminate Osama bin Laden with extreme prejudice. But the Clintons are shameless if not blameless, so the missus can say such things with neither a blush nor a ballooning proboscis.

Jack Reed is unburdened by excessive shame, too. He professes to be worried that "the Bush administration seems to be rushing toward an exit strategy in Iraq." He insists that he's troubled by the evidence that George W. is transferring power to Iraqi civilians too quickly, despite that fact that it's the Democratic obstruction squad in the Senate, with their constant carping and complaining, that pushes the president and his men toward the disaster they decry.

Mrs. Clinton continues to insist that she's out of the running for president next year, despite consistent polls showing that she would quickly lap the sorry field of Democratic wannabes.

This is not necessarily good news for Howard McDean. She strongly hinted to an interviewer for the German magazine Bunte this week that she intends to run in 2008, and the doc can do the math. She understands, she told the magazine, that some people are disappointed that she won't run next year.

"I know," she said. "Well, perhaps I'll do it next time around."

It's all in the plan. If she doesn't run next year she's counting on whoever the Democratic nominee may be, whether Howard McDean or John Kerry or Dick Gephardt, to be snowed under by George W. Bush, the resurgent economy and good news in Iraq. Bill remains her best adviser.

"It's actually a kind of job rotation," she told Bunte. "First, Bill focused on his career, now it's my turn. Bill supports me and gives me tips, he's my best adviser, as I tried to be for him when he was fulfilling political office." She hopes the United States will one day elect a woman as president but — and this is a "but" that will enrage some of her feminist sisters who think being born female is qualification enough — it's up to women to show they can do the job.

The Clintons, astute pols that they are, have taken a hard look at the starburst of spectacular economic news and have concluded that since it really is "the economy, stupid," challenging George W. next year will likely be a kamikazi mission. This may well be the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party, but if it is the Clintons are perfectly willing to let somebody else do it. Cleaning up after a messy suicide will be a lot less taxing.

Running a respectable losing race would not necessarily ruin her chances for a re-run in '08, but the pieces are falling into place for the solid Bush re-election victory that will damage any Democrat who gets near it. Sabotaging the Democratic nominee will require craftiness and cunning, but necessary lest she be locked out until 2012 when she would be too long in the tooth for a credible attempt to be the first female president.

If anybody could hurt while making it look like help, Bill Clinton, with Hillary's help, could. The sabotage will be the most interesting spectacle of the year.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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