Opinion: The many sides of Hillary

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Last Thursday’s primary debate in Texas between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was supposed to provide Clinton a chance to find a chink in Obama’s armor. Unfortunately for Clinton, she never really succeeded. And maybe that’s why her campaign seems to have grown more aggressive, tossing strategy out the door in favor of shooting blind and hoping something makes a dent. (So far, it’s mostly resulted in friendly fire.)

The New York Times calls it a ‘five-point attack.’ Politico calls it ‘highly improvisational'. A Clinton aide christened it the ‘kitchen sink’ method. If you want to judge for yourself, here are some gems from the past few days:

The xerox zinger: In the debate, Clinton defended her accusation that Obama plagiarized Massachussetts Gov. Deval Patrick. ‘Lifting whole passages from someone else’s speeches is not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox,’ quipped the junior senator from the Empire State, who has never lifted a phrase in her life. That didn’t go over so well with the audience, judging from all the boos.

Kiss and make up: Later in the same debate, Clinton practically sang an ode to Obama. ‘I am honored -- I am honored -- to be here with Barack Obama,’ she said, offering her hand to her opponent. Awww... But wait, there’s more:


Whatever happens, we’re going to be fine ... I just hope that we’ll be able to say the same thing about the American people. And that’s what this election should be about.

A gesture of concession? Hardly. More likely it was a move to undo the damage wrought by the Xerox quote -- and to woo back key demographics, especially white women. That sugarcoated moment earned her a standing ovation.

Oh, oh, do the one of Barack, that’s my favorite: The warm fuzzy feeling soon wore off, though -- instead of sticking to her ‘ready on day one’ pitch at a Sunday rally in Rhode Island, Clinton did her best Obama impression (gesticulation included) for an appreciative crowd:

I could just stand up here and say ‘Let’s just get everybody together, let’s get unified.’ The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.

Straight out of ‘Karl Rove’s playbook’: At a rally in Ohio, a supporter handed Clinton pamphlets the Obama campaign was distributing on her healthcare plans -- information she called misleading. ‘Shame on you, Barack Obama,’ she scolded afterward, brandishing the offending fliers at reporters. (Who wants to bet that supporter was prompted?)

My best constituents are black! In a more passive-aggressive show of strength, Clinton was the only candidate to appear at the annual State of the Black Union in Louisiana last weekend (Obama offered to send his wife Michelle instead). There’s nothing better than courting a reluctant demographic and kicking your rival under the table at the same time.

What’s in a turban? Obama staffers wigged out at a Drudge report that Clinton campaign members had been circulating photos of the Illinois senator donning local dress in Kenya. It’s not like he’s the first public figure to don the local garb -- check out Calvin Coolidge in a Native American headdress. The campaign took hours to deny any role in their distribution, but given the long leash Clinton has given to overenthusiastic staffers (up until she fires them) it’s hard to take them at their word.

How many kitchen appliances do you think she’s got left for tonight’s showdown? Post your thoughts below.