He's never going to shake her off. Not all by himself. The very fact that he can't shake her off has become her best argument against him. "Why can't he close the deal?" Hillary taunted at a polling place on Tuesday.
She's been running ads about it, suggesting he doesn't have "what it takes" to run the country. Her message is unapologetically emasculating: If he does not have the gumption to put me in my place, when superdelegates are deserting me, money is drying up, he's outspending me 2-to-1 on TV ads, my husband's going crackers and party leaders are sick of me, how can he be trusted to totally obliterate Iran and stop Osama?
Now that Hillary has won Pennsylvania, it will take a village to help Obama escape from the suffocating embrace of his rival. Certainly Howard Dean will be of no use steering her to the exit. It's like Micronesia telling Russia to denuke.
"You know, some people counted me out and said to drop out," she said at her victory party in Philadelphia, with Bill and Chelsea by her side. "But the American people … well, the American people don't quit. And they deserve a president who doesn't quit, either."
The Democrats are growing ever more desperate about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. With gas prices out of control, with the comically oblivious President Bush shimmying around New Orleans — the city he let drown — and Condi sneaking into Baghdad as rockets and mortars hail down on the Green Zone, beating the Republicans should be a cinch.
But the Democrats watch in horror as Hillary continues to scratch up the once silvery sheen on Obama, and as John McCain not only consolidates his own party but encroaches on theirs by boldly venturing into Selma, Ala., on Monday to woo black voters.
They also cringe as Bill continues his honey-crusted-nut-bar meltdown. With his usual exquisite timing, just as Pennsylvanians were about to vote, Hillary's husband became the first person ever to play the Caucasian Card. First, he blurted out to a radio interviewer that the Obama camp had played the race card against him after he compared Obama's strength in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson's. And then, with a Brobdingnagian finger-wagging on the screen, he denied it to an NBC News reporter.
"You always follow me around and play these little games, and I'm not going to play your games today," he said, accusing the reporter of looking for "another cheap story to divert the American people from the real urgent issues before us."
If there's one person who knows about crass diversions, it's Bill. But even for him, it was an embarrassing explosion, capped with some blue language to an aide that was caught on air.
The Democrats are eager to move on to an Obama-McCain race. But they can't because no one seems to be able to show Hillary the door. Despite all his incandescent gifts, Obama has missed several opportunities to smash the ball over the net and end the game. Again and again, he has seemed stuck at deuce. He complains about the politics of scoring points, but to win, you've got to score points.
He knew he tanked in the Philadelphia debate, but he was so irritated by the moderators — and by having to stand next to Hillary again — that he couldn't summon a single merry dart.
Is he skittish around her because he knows that she detests him and he's used to charming everyone? Or does he feel guilty that he cut in line ahead of her? As the husband of Michelle, does he know better than to defy the will of a strong woman? Or is he simply scared of Hillary because she's scary?
He is frantic to get away from her because he can't keep carbo-loading to relate to the common people.
In the final days in Pennsylvania, he dutifully logged time at diners and force-fed himself waffles, pancakes, sausage and a Philly cheese steak. He split the pancakes with Michelle, left some of the waffle and sausage behind, and gave away the French fries that came with the cheese steak.
But this is clearly a man who can't wait to get back to his organic scrambled egg whites. That was made plain with his cri de coeur at the Glider Diner in Scranton when a reporter asked him about Jimmy Carter and Hamas.
"Why," he pleaded, sounding a bit, dare we say, bitter, "can't I just eat my waffle?"
His subtext was obvious: Why can't I just be president? Why do I have to keep eating these gooey waffles and answering these gotcha questions and debating this gonzo woman?
Before they devour themselves once more, perhaps the Democrats will take a cue from Dr. Seuss' "Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!" (The writer once mischievously redid it for his friend Art Buchwald as "Richard M. Nixon Will You Please Go Now!") They could sing:
"The time has come. The time has come. The time is now. Just go. … I don't care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow. Hillary R. Clinton, will you please go now! You can go on skates. You can go on skis. … You can go in an old blue shoe.
(c) 2008 New York Times News Service
"Just go, go, GO!"