FOR EIGHT YEARS, it has been a popular myth that if it hadn't been for the 22nd Amendment, Bill Clinton wouldn't have had to leave the White House in January of 2001. "If the Constitution had not barred him from running again," The
And if Hillary was running for Bill's third term - well, then naturally it made sense to get Bill on the campaign trail, to remind Democrats how much they had loved those first two terms. "I know some people say, 'Look at them - they're old, they're sort of yesterday's news' " he was telling voters last summer. "Well," he'd add happily, "yesterday's news was pretty good."
But the myth, being a myth, was never true. Polls in 1999 and 2000 repeatedly found that large majorities of the public did not wish Clinton could run for a third term. And Bill's return to the hustings last year didn't exactly fill Democrats with ecstatic expectations of a Clinton restoration. At times it has seemed as if the more voters saw of the once and would-be future First Couple, the less they wanted to see.
"About thirty minutes into Bill Clinton's nearly two-hour stop here at Dartmouth College," the
That old Clinton magic seems more old than magical now. While the graceful and eloquent Barack Obama electrifies voters, Hillary has tended to come across as cold and contrived. Her tears the other day - so unexpected and obviously genuine - may have done more to awaken sympathy for her than anything else voters have seen from the Clinton campaign in a long time. Indeed, they may have won New Hampshire for her.
Running for Bill Clinton's third term has gotten Hillary Clinton nowhere. She will not win the nomination with an air of entitlement. She may not have Obama's boundless charisma, but she does have a heart and soul. They may yet prove her strongest weapon.
Jeff Jacoby's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.