The Spine

Surprise, Clinton's In

By and

Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on Saturday that she was beginning a "conversation" with the American electorate. But her actual announcement was as far from a conversation as anyone can imagine. Or, as Susan Milligan reported in the Boston Globe on Sunday, it came "in an Internet video statement" without reporters or citizen questioners. OK, a conversation this campaign won't be. There was another little fib in the former first lady's explanation that "she would be forming an exploratory committee to determine whether she will become a formal candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2008." This is so transparent that it cries out for ridicule. Is there even the tiniest chance that she won't race for the prize? Then why pretend? Because pretense is in her nature.

A story by Patrick Healy and Jeff Zeleny in Sunday's Times went straight to the essence: money. Who is going to get more of it? Hillary or Senator Barack Obama?

In that choice, certainly, I'm for Obama. And, alas, so is George Soros, who has already sent the maximum contribution of $2,100, explained on the Times front page by a Soros flak (not even Soros himself): "Senator Obama brings a new energy to the political system and has the potential to be a transformational leader." Believe me, Obama is much more interesting than that, much. I hope the backing of America's most showy political billionaire won't turn off supporters who don't believe that the U.S. is the prime source of evil in the world, Israel the second.

In any case, there's a cautionary tale to any candidacy that is supported "independently" by Soros through his and others's unrestricted contribution 527 committees. (You want to know where the traditional Democratic anxiety about and animosity to big money in politics went? To the clouds, a consequence of Soros's gifts.) Do not forget that John Kerry was a the beneficiary of his Machiavellian generosity. And look where it got him. Back to Louisburg Square and Nantucket and Sun Valley. That isn't exactly where Kerry wanted to be.

I came home from New York Sunday afternoon and there blinking away on my telephone answering service was a recorded message from Ellen R. Malcolm, the unelected leader of EMILY's List. My, oh my, less than 24 hours after Hillary had announced that "she would be forming an exploratory committee to determine...blah, blah, blah," EMILY's List, with no process at all, had endorsed Bill's wife. Oh yes, it endorsed with "tremendous excitement and pride." And please send a check.

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