Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

At a conference late last fall I fell in with a couple of guys from Mississippi. Nice fellows, they were fans of Trent Lott, but were convinced that Hillary was a lock for the Democratic nomination. One of them even seemed inclined to vote for her. This is what happens when you get outside the People's Republic of New York-- you hear other points of view. I can't quite get my mind around the inconsistency contained in the notion that Lott and Clinton are politicians that it is possible to like at the same time, but maybe that's because the Hillary Clinton that exists in my mind isn't the one that other people see. In spite of it all, I think of Senator Clinton as something of a liberal-- maybe even more liberal than ol' Bill. Of course, come to think of it, ol' Bill wasn't all that liberal; one of the things that made the Republicans so furious with him was the way he kept stealing their ideas. It's hard to look at anything Hillary has done as a senator, or before, that marks her as particularly liberal, either, come to think of it. I'm still furious that she voted to authorize the war on Iraq. Chuck Schumer did, too, but he can point to a long list of other things, like safeguarding the federal judiciary, that lead me to forgive him.

I do not think that Senator Clinton is a lock for the nomination-- the fact that she is thought to be is really more of a symptom of the Democrats' lack of ideas. Who else is there? You just know Lieberman wants to run-- he hasn't got it out of his system yet. Kerry, too, only this time he'll run the campaign he should have two years ago. John Kerry is doomed to fight the last war for the rest of his life. And right on schedule, here comes Al Gore, back from the wilderness. I could go for Gore, who actually does have a record to stand on, and ideas that I can get behind. The obvious template is 1968 Nixon. I wonder if Gore can pull it off. Scott Fitzgerald got it wrong, of course, American lives are all about the second act. We love reinvention, for the most part, but is Gore prepared to pretend, as Nixon did, that he has changed in some fundamental way? What was Gore's sin? Sarah Vowell says, "[Gore] was widely perceived as arrogant. If you know something, you're not smart. You're a smarty-pants. It's annoying. People get annoyed with your knowledge. It goes back to high school, to not doing your homework ... 'There's something I should know, I don't know why I should know it but someone knows it and I don't. So I'm going to have to make fun of him now.'" The Partly Cloudy Patriot suggested that self-deprecation would help, but I wonder if that will carry the day. Beyond that, even at a time of national crisis, with the country mired in an unpopular war, Nixon needed help-- he needed a weak opponent and George Wallace to split the vote.

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