Some Perspective: At this point during the last election cycle four years ago, the talking heads were anointing Howard Dean as the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president. But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation.

Is Hillary the latest Howard Dean? I doubt it. Dean was an insurgent nobody from an out of the way state who caught fire unexpectedly and then flamed out just as suddenly. Dean embodied "flash in the pan."

Hillary Clinton is a second-term senator from the Empire State. She is the wife of a popular and incredibly powerful former president. She has been a mega public figure for sixteen years, thoughtfully charting a path to the Oval Office for nearly that long. She is loaded with cash, she has assembled the best campaign organization in recent memory, and she is the most disciplined candidate of my lifetime.

An aside: The Okie Gardener has previously compared Mrs. Clinton to Richard Nixon. No comparison to Nixon is ever favorable, but RN had some notably similar attributes necessary for success in politics. Like Mrs. Clinton, Nixon was not a naturally talented politician, but, like Mrs. Clinton, he made up for his lack of innate skill with hard work and tenacity. "You gotta want it to win it," and he usually wanted it more. Mrs. Clinton is a hard-charging, take-no-prisoners, tough-minded steamroller. She is a lot like Nixon in that regard.

What happened in the debate on Tuesday? Tim Russert and Brian Williams hammered her, and she staggered for a moment. Her stonewalling on the library question, her decision to pander to the ACLU-liberals rather than the working-class, rank-and-file Democrats on immigration, and her tendency to go overboard on sisterhood combined to leave her uncharacteristically dazed, confused, and momentarily vulnerable. Arriving at the debate intent on pounding the frontrunner, her desperately frustrated opponents saw an opening and pounced.

Nobody Knows Anything
--but I think that those who are expecting Mrs. Clinton to fold like a house of cards at the first sign of trouble are reading her wrong. Hillary never craters. She never backs down. She never apologizes. She comes out swinging and plays through the pain, always pressing forward.

Hillary's Dilemma: Of course, her primary problem--the one that actually poses the biggest threat to her campaign for the nomination--continues to be her moderation on foreign policy.

Ironically, Mrs. Clinton's biggest obstacle in the Democratic primary is her sanity. For all of us who are rubbing our hands together with glee this week, we are not thinking very strategically. Of the Democrats who have a chance to win the nomination, Hillary is the one we have the best chance at beating. More importantly, of the Democrats who have a chance to win the nomination, Hillary is the one who is least likely to radically alter the course of American politics if she wins.

Hillary Clinton, like Richard Nixon, is a hard-boiled realist, who understands national vital interests as well as political necessities. She will throw rhetorical bones to the left but govern in the center, because she will want to be reelected. She will employ all the usual suspects of the American foreign-policy making establishment and pursue a moderate-to-firm course in international relations. She, like her husband, will accept the necessity of "torture" under certain dire circumstances. She will not be what we want, but neither will she rock the boat very much. No socialist revolution. No unilateral retreat from American interests abroad. No Pollyannaish, Jimmy-Carter-like naivetÚ.

John Edwards is fairly close to reality when he says a "vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for the status quo."

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