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Clinton Fatigue Returns

In a few hours, Hillary Clinton will announce that she is running for the presidency of the United States. Is she in time? It is clear to the foggiest observer that what the commentator Michael Goodwin calls “Clinton fatigue” is growing apace. Will it have reached critical mass by the time the campaign gets underway in earnest?  I think so. At least, I certainly hope so.

The whole phenomenon of the Clintons’ celebrity is something of a mystery to me. Part of the reason it is so difficult to analyze is that it is not all of a piece.  The engine  of the enterprise is Bill Clinton. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. He provides the pheromones for the enterprise, and absent that, what do we have?

It’s hard to say.  On her own, Hillary Clinton has to be one of the least likeable people in politics. I’m talking about her personality, her “people skills.” Does anyone, anyone, believe she competes in that arena? Barack Obama is a chilly narcissist, but next to Hillary he seems like Roy Rogers. It should be, but somehow isn’t, an embarrassment to the feminist sisterhood chanting for Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, that right from the beginning hers was a “coattail career.” Back in 1977, when she became the first female partner at the Rose Law Firm, that was—surprise, surprise—just after Bill Clinton was sworn in as the state’s attorney general.  Think there was a connection?

And so it's been ever after. Although she, not Bill, is the couple’s chief ideologue and Minister of Propaganda, she has always existed in the echo chamber of his accomplishment.

A question to ponder: how was it, exactly, that she, as resident of Arkansas, managed to become a New York senator in 2000? Yes, I know she bought a house in Chappaqua, New York, before the election, but really, what were her qualifications? That she was married to Bill Clinton.  That was the chief qualification. The auxiliary credit was her sex: in contemporary American the fact of being female, even if one is only a technical specimen of the genus, like Hillary, is like running in a rotten borough in early nineteenth century England.

But let’s return to Clinton, Inc.’s celebrity. That it exists is patent. Look, if your stomach is strong enough, at the cover of the current issue of Elle, which features a dolled up image of the fruit of the Clinton loins, Chelsea, under the headline “Chelsea Clinton Opens Up About Motherhood and Women's Rights.” Make-up is a wonderful thing, but note that air-sickness bags are not included.

Still, how do we account for the overall nimbus of celebrity, the slick bubble of invulnerability that envelopes these morally repugnant people?