Hillary as Salieri

Lisa Simpson Salieri Andrew Sullivan is pleased that Hillary Clinton “did all she needed to do” in yesterday’s concession speech and feels a bit sorry for her.

I think history will show that she didn’t quite have the talent to do it on her own steam, but that she made it much easier for another woman to become president one day. Her two biggest problems: She first married a man who was her political superior and was then defeated by one. She is a very talented politician but it was her fate to find her career hemmed in by two even more talented ones: Bill and Barack. She made up for it all with enormous hard work, diligence and ruthlessness. At any other moment, she would have won. But this is history and politics at the highest level. You cannot defeat such a moment if you are a Salieri. And she had to deal with two Mozarts.

Certainly, she was outshone by Bill for most of their marriage and by Obama in this campaign. But she’s no Salieri, who was extraordinarily accomplished in his own right. She, on the other hand, hitched her wagon to another and has no notable success not directly attributable to her more illustrious husband.

Hillary Rodham showed great promise, certainly. She was at the top of her class and was student government president at Wellesley, did well at Yale Law, and was universally regarded as possessed of a keen intellect and leadership skill. Still, she decided early on that Bill had a clearer path to greatness and became a background player.

She entered elective politics for the first time at the age of 52, running for the Senate while Bill was still president. She was no Lurleen Wallace, running as a surrogate for her husband, but it’s simply inconceivable that someone with her resume, having moved to New York for the first time mere months before declaring for office, would have been taken seriously, let alone elected.

Her claim of having far greater experience than her upstart opponent, likewise, was only plausible because it was widely presumed that she was a major partner in her husband’s administrations in Arkansas and the White House. Otherwise, she’s an older, less charismatic, less accomplished Obama.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. crat3 says:

    Sen. Clinton’s campaign was sabotaged from beginning to end by a pro-Obama biased media. This resulted in the campaign’s debt.

    Obama did not get the nomination fair and square. He clinched a stolen nomination with the hijacked MI votes, and de facto Obama surrogate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rigged the nomination for Obama.

    The corrupt Democratic Party wants Sen. Clinton’s supporters to surrender to the cult powers of Obama. But that will never happen because her supporters lack a cult mentality.

    With Sen. Clinton’s exit, the White House is a pipe dream for the corrupt Democratic Party of radical left wing liberals and MoveOn.org.

    Sen. Clinton’s supporters should campaign for Obama’s defeat and vote for John McCain. I will volunteer and vote for McCain and hope Sen. Clinton will be a presidential candidate in 2012.

    Sen. Clinton should be the Democratic nominee. She was the best qualified and the strongest candidate to win the general election in a landslide victory hands down. The corrupt Democratic Party dashed an easy election win with Sen. Clinton for a crushing election defeat with Obama.

  2. grampagravy says:

    Sen. Clinton’s supporters should campaign for Obama’s defeat and vote for John McCain. I will volunteer and vote for McCain and hope Sen. Clinton will be a presidential candidate in 2012.

    By all means, disregard your candidate’s own words and support more war and more economic disaster…after all being a sore loser is more important than doing what is best for the nation. We should all run out and work for McCain so that Crat3 will feel better.
    Sheesh! Grow up for crying out loud!

  3. Bithead says:

    Mrs Clinton lost because of one reason and one reason alone: Mrs Clinton. She has far too much animosity built up against her from the Clintons first rise to power, to be taken seriously as a candidate for having such power again. Indeed, let’s be honest enough to say that in sane times, with candidates who were actually worthy in the running, her attempt at the office would have been met by the derisive laughter it deserved. That she did as well as she did only shows how weak those running against her are. Obama, being the obvious example, here. As I said a couple months ago, after Obama lost Pennsylvania:

    How bad does someone have to be, to lose to a known liar with negatives as near as 50% as no matter, while spending twice as much as she does? Such a candidate is Obama.

    Eventually, of course Obama would win the Democrat primary… I say again… eventually, (What other primary has run so close for so long?) …but by margins close enough to raise serious doubts about his attractiveness to all but his most devoted of followers… who, frankly don’t appear to be to be all that bright, and look to be more about hero worship and Beatles- to- America-like euphoria, than about actual accomplishments.

    So, we have Obama as the Democrat nominee. (Sigh) … Not that John McCain is much stronger a candidate, mind. The only advantage McCain has is that unlike Obama, McCain isn’t a full-on Marxist, and thereby is less damaging to us than Obama.

    That’s what we’re down to, folks… who will cause the least damage. It’s all enough to cause serious doubts about the future of the country.

  4. Beldar says:

    I hate to quibble, but re your statement that “Hillary Rodham … did well at Yale Law,” do you have any particular evidence of that?

    I haven’t made anything like a comprehensive search, either of the web or other source materials (like her book), but certainly her Wikipedia entry doesn’t suggest a particularly distinguished stay at Yale Law. She graduated, and Yale was and is a very well regarded law school (top five, certainly, on anyone’s national list). But I’ve seen no indication that her grades there were anything better than passing. Her J.D. degree is not identified anywhere as being with any sort of honors. The law journal she’s listed as serving on, the Yale Review of Law and Social Action, only existed from 1970 to 1973 and could be described as third-rate only with a great degree of charity; it almost certainly accepted help from any student who applied. Her summer clerkship wasn’t with the sort of firm that would have been expected to be very grade-conscious. She flunked the D.C. Bar examination (but passed the Arkansas bar).

    Do you have anything in particular to show that she wasn’t, in fact, at or near the bottom of her class?

    The reason I pick this nit is that people like Bob Novak have been floating the idea that Obama might nominate her to the Supreme Court. She’s unqualified.

  5. Beldar says:

    Bithead: Your comments mirror the endorsement I have on the sidebar of my blog: “Vote for the Grumpy Old Man,” I urge, because he’s least bad of who’s left, and that’s as good as it gets this year.

  6. od says:

    So, we have Obama as the Democrat nominee. (Sigh) … Not that John McCain is much stronger a candidate, mind. The only advantage McCain has is that unlike Obama, McCain isn’t a full-on Marxist, and thereby is less damaging to us than Obama.

    Full-on Marxist? He’s apparently a millionaire, I’ll believe he’s a Marxist when he starts giving his money to the proletariate masses. The more usual criticism is that he’s an elitist (see millionaire) who doesn’t understand the issues. So far his approach to gov’t spending seems to be the same as the current president Bush … spend more than you take in. If that makes him Marxist, then just about every president for the last half century has been a Marxist. I’d say Obama, like most presidents and presidential candidates, are just generous with other people’s money.

  7. James Joyner says:

    I hate to quibble, but re your statement that “Hillary Rodham … did well at Yale Law,” do you have any particular evidence of that?

    A fair point, Bill. I’m making some presumptions based on her early post-Yale career, including her stint on the House Judiciary staff during the Nixon impeachment hearings.

    But, certainly, she wasn’t Law Review nor did she get any prestige clerkships. Whether she competed for those, I don’t know.

  8. dbt says:

    She was spoken of early in her career as a potential presidential candidate.

    People around her begged her not to move to Arkansas with Bill, convinced it would destroy her career.

    Hillary and Bill’s plan was for Bill to run for Congress, but he lost 52-48 in 1974. The rest, as they say, was history.

    I kinda wonder what alternate history is where he wins that 1974 seat.

  9. Bithead says:

    Full-on Marxist? He’s apparently a millionaire, I’ll believe he’s a Marxist when he starts giving his money to the proletariate masses

    So, too, was Stalin a millionaire, by the measurements of such in his own country at the time. Did this make him profess to be a Marxist any less?

    Bithead: Your comments mirror the endorsement I have on the sidebar of my blog: “Vote for the Grumpy Old Man,” I urge, because he’s least bad of who’s left, and that’s as good as it gets this year.

    Yeah, true, Beldar. We are faced this year with essentially the same choice we were faced with in 2000. And given we’d be in demonstrably worse shape now, had Gore won, then, I will make the same chocie now I did then… but that doesn’t mean I must be happy about it.

  10. od says:

    So, too, was Stalin a millionaire, by the measurements of such in his own country at the time. Did this make him profess to be a Marxist any less?

    I know people who claim to be musicians, who can barely play a note (generally they make the claim trying to pick up dates, though one tried it in the interview for med school … he was caught btw). Are they musicians? Most would say you are or aren’t something depending upon what you do, not what you say you do.

    BTW, I don’t think Obama has ever claimed to be a Marxist, so the link is pretty weak in any case. Looking at what Obama actually does, I’d catagorize him as a typical politician, ie someone who says one thing, does another, and is happy spending tax payers money.

  11. Bithead says:

    I know people who claim to be musicians, who can barely play a note (generally they make the claim trying to pick up dates, though one tried it in the interview for med school … he was caught btw). Are they musicians? Most would say you are or aren’t something depending upon what you do, not what you say you do.

    I need to hook you up with the people who lawyered for the quadriplegic who wanted to earn his living as a fireman.

    That diversion aside, there is much in both his history and his current proposals which reek of Marx. I suppose it to be the only way he could get taken seriously by Move On.

  12. sam says:

    At any other moment, she would have won. But this is history and politics at the highest level. You cannot defeat such a moment if you are a Salieri. And she had to deal with two Mozarts.

    Well, I dunno about the “two Mozarts” thing. Bill’s more akin to the guy running the Freihaus-Theater (in the movie, anyway).

  13. Arcs says:

    Her claim of having far greater experience than her upstart opponent, likewise, was only plausible because it was widely presumed that she was a major partner in her husband’s administrations in Arkansas and the White House.

    I’ve always presumed she was a major partner in her husband’s mis-administrations, particularly in Arkansas. Maybe my living there from 86-91 biased me somehow.

  14. James Joyner says:

    I’ve always presumed she was a major partner in her husband’s mis-administrations, particularly in Arkansas.

    Me, too. I’ve largely bought her experience claims, even though I think they’re exaggerated. But, again, that’s experience as a partner to her husband rather than as the lead actor.

    Salieri has been overshadowed in the history books and, likely, so will Hillary. But his accomplishments in his chosen field were far greater.