Saturday, May 31, 2008

Q.E.D. - Update

Is the Democratic Party fit to govern? I rest my case.

And what can one say about Howard Dean? Nice guy? Good doctor? Inspiring footnote?

Whatever Homeric epithets one might apply, “good DNC chairman” isn’t among them. If the Democratic Party were a corporation and he were the CEO, he’d be out on his ass, and the shareholders would be screaming for a new Board.

For the past several months – ever since Super Tuesday, at least – Chairman Dean has had just one crucial thing to accomplish. It has been obvious to everybody that what was needed was to fix the mess he allowed Donna Brazile to bully him into vis a vis Florida and Michigan. The resolution of this managerial snafu should never have taken this long – but if it was going to do so, if it was going to wait until today, this session should simply have been kabuki. A solution that protected and enhanced the Party should have been worked out well in advance, and the staging of that solution on national television today should have been orchestrated for maximum brand repair and enhancement.

Instead, we got the Keystone Kops. It was painfully obvious to America that nothing had been worked out. It took a three hour lunch, for god’s sake, to slap together a bullshit compromise that is stunning in its unprincipled expediency. It trashes democracy itself, while maximizing divisiveness.

So what did he accomplish? Disenfranchising millions of voters -- check. Putting the Democrats on the same moral plane with the GOP on that score - check. Letting the family's dirty laundry flap around in the breeze for the whole town to see -- check. Renting out a theater on Broadway, papering the house and staging... Waiting for Guffman. Check.

Nice, Howard.


Anglachel captures the state of play: "A committee of people, behind closed doors and under pressure from a specific candidate to shore up his crumbling support, has functionally declared Michigan's votes null and void and has reallocated the delegates to suit themsleves. The will of the people was considered advisory, not definitive, and the will of the committee was substituted."

The Withering of Institutions

… notably, of American political parties.

We have, over the past two decades, witnessed the dissolution of the Republican Party, as it was taken over by a radical faction – “movement conservatism” – which has used the GOP as a vehicle through which to attempt a bureaucratic coup.

Now we’re witnessing something fairly similar happening to the Democratic Party. Thanks to the DNC’s incompetence, the Dems are being taken over by another movement – the Obama children’s crusade.

The first was ideological, the second a cult of personality. And both are severely altering and damaging their hosts.

The GOP has become an anti-institution. It is increasingly unable to get its act together to raise money, shape platforms, organize troops, imagine or pass legislation, or any of the other typical manifestations of a structured organization. Karl Rove’s and Tom Delay’s vaunted machine is devolving into a marketing vehicle – a blank billboard on which to paste slogans, a Potemkin Village political party.

However, it does retain, in its buried reptilian brain, traces of its former state. It hasn’t lost its affection for power. It may no longer have control over its arms and legs… its central nervous system may be shot… but it has no ambivalence about winning. For reasons I described a couple of days ago, the Democrats still have a ways to go to become competitive on that front.

Clearly, the Democratic Party isn’t dissolving to the extent of Republican Party. But being taken over by this cult isn’t exactly good for its health. Not only has its alleged expansion of the party base not materialized, but it’s turning the Democrats into a half-party – a legislative party. The rise of the netroots, the triumph of the Millennials, the legacy of the Dean campaign and his own 50-state strategy as DNC chairman – all of that has come together to form a party that is adept at winning Congressional seats. This happened in 2006, and it will happen again in 2008.

But in terms of wielding actual power – in terms of winning the presidency – the Democratic Party is pretty much moribund. The chaos and embarrassment of this cycle’s primaries are proof: the absurd caucuses with their undemocratic essence and their bizarro delegate-allocation rules… the open primaries (allowing Republicans and Independents to choose our candidate)… proportional voting for delegates… the jaw-dropping craziness of the Florida and Michigan snafu.

All of that is something that Obama and his campaign have seized upon, and which they are using to game the system and take over the party. They aren’t Democrats, they’re “movement” zealots – but their movement is, as Obama himself likes to say, themselves… with him as its focus object. Indeed, they’re hell-bent on driving much of the core Democratic base out of the party.

And it’s not over ideological differences. Obama and his followers are not even “progressives” – i.e., lefties. Their core is a cadre of narcissistic young things who are getting off on the self-experience of their first time behind the wheel… only they’re about to crash the family car, and the family doesn’t have insurance. McCain is likely to trounce Obama, in which case, the kids and the DNC have managed something that will hardly be credited in history books – losing the presidential election after W.

The GOP has been taken over by the Taliban, and the Democratic Party has been taken over by the Maharishi. The American Taliban gets its rocks off on destroying institutions, and these modern-day TM worshippers get theirs by opposing institutions. Neither movement is composed of grown-ups – i.e., of people who recognize the responsibility of exercising power, of using their time on the planet to shepherd it to a better place, and to make decisions with consequences. Whatever one thought of its policies, that was what the Republican Party did in the decades before Dubya – and the Democratic Party for the generation before that. But we don’t have either of those parties anymore. We have dueling movements.

Unsurprisingly, both of these movements execrate Bill and Hillary. Within the Artist Formerly Known as the Democratic Party, the Clintons are condemned as people who will do anything to win… by people who will do anything to lose.

At one level, this is what one might expect – that is, the destruction of institutions by the Net, by globalization, by the radical democratization that both bring. Half-assed “analyses” of the Obama campaign’s Net-savvy (such as this one by Roger Cohen in the Times) have led some to think that this movement is the wave of the connected future. And long-term, I fervently believe in that future. But I am not persuaded that this guy or his campaign are really ushering it in. In fact, I find it heartbreaking that we had a chance to elect somebody who could actually have wielded power intelligently, could have given us a shot at a soft landing into that future… somebody, by the way, whose symbolic resonance matches her opponent’s. She might have given hope to the women and girls of the world. And maybe she still will, in 2012. But not now, it seems.

Quel dommage.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Final Frontier

This post’s title is probably hyperbolic. Frontiers always recede – they become moving event horizons of transformation and self-discovery, as Frederick Jackson Turner taught us Americans. So declarations to the effect of, “Now they’ve/we’ve crossed the last line in the sand, beyond which there’s no turning back” – or some such – are pretty much always simply a way to grab attention… a rhetorical exclamation point.

With that qualifier, it does feel, well, rather striking that the Obama campaign and its handmaidens in the media have been reduced to protesting protests, to demonizing demonstrations, to sneering at the capacity of a candidate to inspire lots of people to show up somewhere – and, astonishingly to equating a march in favor of counting votes with a riot aimed at blocking them.

After all, this is the “movement” whose primary – essentially only – claim to fame and legitimacy was and is that it could mobilize armies of supporters to show up at caucuses, at rallies, at Yes-We-Can chant-ins. Were the caucuses undemocratic? That’s not the point, we’re told. The point is that this showed Obama’s savvy and new-politics mojo – that he could move armies of young things to show up and dominate (sometimes in fairly, er, domineering ways) these events. If Hillary didn’t grok that opportunity, we’re smugly assured, that that proves she isn’t smart enough to be the nominee.

This is one index, among many, of how, as the campaign has continued, its emotional dynamics have shifted. Hillary’s supposed lack of inspiration has somehow inspired millions of people to donate, to campaign and especially to vote. To the point where, when you look at the whole campaign, it turns out it’s Hillary, not Obama, who has benefitted from large electoral turnouts. To the point where she is going to wind up with the majority of the popular vote – as the result of blowouts long after everybody with a broadcast tower and most of those with a blog have declared her obviously, laughably, blessedly dead. To the point where the tonality of two campaigns now forms a stark contrast – between hope (delusion, its opponents claim) among the Hillarybots and rage among the Obamacans.

As I argued a couple of days ago, the viciousness of that rage is now rising to Nuremberg-rally decibel levels. It’s everywhere you turn on the lefty blogosphere. I’m not even talking about the usual suspects – the Great Orange Satan, TPM, the spittin’-mad Avarosis. Check out the comments in response to Joan Walsh’s last column at Salon (and these are after she went through and cleaned out the “filth” – her description, and entirely accurate). Look at how the boyz (and, sadly, some of the girlz) over at Misogyny Spewing National Broadcasting Company are flogging the shibboleth that Hillary incited murder.

This is nothing more and nothing less than a sexist version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – making stuff up that provides the pretext for murderous disgust. Did I hit her, your honor? Okay, yeah… but you have no idea how she provoked me. She doesn’t listen!

But that’s not the point of this post. My point here is that the two campaigns have switched roles – and in the process, the entire premise of Obama’s has disappeared.

As Somerby says, our press corps’ current master is the Obama campaign. We actually have the smoking emails. But even if we didn’t, the total absence of any serious attempt at uniting – or any ideas about how one would go about attempting that – is undeniable. The silence is deafening. If he or Axelrod or Daschle or Brazile or anybody else has the first idea about how to reach out and pull the party together, you’d think they would’ve been going about that for awhile now.

This is the great uniter? This is the great hopemeister? This is the guy and the movement that is going to forge a new consensus among enemies? This is the guy who’s gonna bring the insurance companies… the jihadists… the Republicans… the Chinese… you name it… to the table and forge a new paradigm? This is the representative of the idea that you can disagree without being disagreeable?

Mr. Hope and Change? These days, not so much. Now it’s more like Mr. Rulz… Mr. Gaffe… Mr. Run Out the Clock.

And the Hillary forces… dead-enders? If so, there sure are a lot of ‘em. In fact, more of ‘em than he has any likelihood of gathering – as all the polls show. Obama’s arguments re November come down now to: “Well, you can’t predict a GE outcome from primaries.” Not especially persuasive – and certainly not inspiring.

If this is hope – hope that’s supposed to sweep the nation and the world, and render boring policies and actual knowledge irrelevant – it's pretty fragile and, well, hopeless. In fact, isn’t it clear that the vitriol being spewed at Hillary is largely a defensive reaction to this dawning recognition? Why else would they need to blow this non-event out of proportion – indeed, to promote it? That’s right, the Obama campaign has engaged in an aggressive promotion of the idea that he might be offed – merely in order to be able to claim that Hillary is doing so.

It’s perfectly obvious why. It’s really uncomfortable to see the Emperor’s New Clothes start to fade. And the more people start to see that – see reality, rather than the narrative du jour – the more strident the assertions of that narrative have to become. Hillary’s perfectly appropriate and within-normal-bounds campaign has to be turned into the Greatest Evil in Human History… Beyond the Pale of What Anyone Has Ever Said or Done... in order to explain the collapse of their own campaign’s raison d’etre. She has to be declared literally soulless, because it couldn’t be their own shallowness and weakness that’s at fault. The she-devil made them do it.

The GOP and corporate lobbyists and jihadis and all of them? We can unite with them. But this spawn of evil and her on-the-rag legions of crazed minions (about 18 million of them, at last count)? No, they’re “beyond the pale.”

A year from now, nobody will be able to remember what exactly it was that they found so entrancing about Obama. He will have blown away with the first nor’easter, and the recollections of the campaign will be one version or another of, "You had to BE there, man. I can't explain it to you. It was, like, this whole hope thing..."

On Clarity

Obama says he doesn’t just want to end the war, but the mindset that got us into the war. However, there is precious little clarity in his campaign about what that mindset is or what kind of mindset would replace it. On the struggle with jihadism… or on any of the other major shit-holes we find ourselves in... there’s no real evidence of a “mindset.” Rather, there’s the proposal for an attitude – one of consensus-building, bridging divides, post-partisanship.

Of course, that presumes that our problem is "partisan bickering," but that's nonsense. Our problem isn't contentiousness; it's that our government has been attacked by a radical right-wing coup, which has done enormous damage to most of its institutions. We need someone to come in and roll back that coup, and repair the damage.

But even granting his premise, one might have expected actual proposals for ‘third way’ kinds of approaches – say, analogous to Bloomberg’s commission that Dick Parsons headed up about solving urban problems. One might have expected concrete, grounded discussions about how we can change the paradigm through new technologies. One might have expected, in other words, some actual demonstration of the new mindset he’s claiming to represent.

I want some clarity. I want an intellect that is focused, knowledgeable and decisive. I want feet planted on the ground. I want Hillary to tackle these problems we face. Because Obama gives no evidence of a particular idea about how to tackle any of them. His entire case for himself in this campaign is that he can bring together a bunch of warring people and get them to come up with some kind of consensus. Well, what does he believe should be done, and why? Hillary has said, on issue after issue. He hasn’t. Rather, he has cobbled together elements from right and left into proposals with little intellectual coherence – entirely to seem non-partisan.

Krugman’s point about this all along has been that some analyses are simply right, and others simply wrong. Some policies are right, and others wrong. And most of Obama’s don’t even rise to that level. To borrow the classic dismissive line from the world of science, they’re not even wrong.

From Obama, we get no serious sense of the scope or nature of the problems we face. He just keeps intoning ‘change.’ He’s all inspiration, no perspiration – and no serious analysis. And my god, do we ever need serious analysis right now, far more than anything else – far more than building consensus. We need to think. We need to wake up from our fear dreams, confront the actual mess we’re in, and create a concrete action plan to begin to dig out. We certainly don’t need to go from a fear dream to a hope dream. Obama’s ‘change’ is just the flip side of Bush’s ‘stay the course’ – each in its own way an invitation not to think.

The mess we find ourselves in today very much includes Islamic fundamentalism, and its terrifying intersection with nuclear proliferation. It also includes America’s future in the global economy – and the recession we’re now entering. It also includes the evisceration of our government and Constitution and institutions by the radical coup. This is no time to be wasting our ergs on children’s crusades. We have work to do. Grown-up work. Hillary’s experience isn’t a template to be followed in order to do that work – rather, it’s the necessary introductory course. Obama hasn’t taken that course yet. She’s been learning and working her whole life to get to this point – not most importantly to get elected, but to do the work, to fix the problems.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Monster Mash

“Clinton Derangement Syndrome” is an accurate description, but it's still a bit opaque. That’s probably because we haven’t really grokked the phenomenon.

Certainly, lots of people really are nutso when it comes to the Clintons. They have a visceral reaction to both Bill and Hillary that is borderline psychotic. What’s even weirder is that this is not a niche phenomenon. Many people suffer from it – though even more don’t.

This schism was the most fascinating epiphany of the whole impeachment imbroglio – the profound gap in basic feeling among Americans. A solid majority liked (and still like) Bill just fine, and a sizable minority thought and think of him (and his she-devil wife) as evil incarnate. This, say, 65-35 split doesn’t neatly arrange itself along party or ideological lines – as is painfully evident in this year’s Democratic primary. In the past I have explained it to myself as a function of Bill’s sexuality – his Falstaff-like quality, which always drives Pillars of Society crazy. But now I’m having another thought.

That thought is this: The Democratic Party is not yet fit to govern, because it doesn’t yet want to govern. It used to. Under FDR and Truman, it wanted to, a lot. It still wanted to under Kennedy and Johnson. But since Vietnam – and perhaps Vietnam was only the pretext – the Dems have self-defined as people who think power is ipso facto wrong. They are, by and large, at least skeptical of -- and usually actively opposed to -- anybody who wields it. They self-experience as those who critique, who analyze, who speak up against. They can be Congresspeople and Senators – because there’s no real accountability there. But they can’t be Presidents, because Presidents have to act, and live with the consequences.

Thing is, Bill and Hillary do act. They do want power. They are imperfect – but their sins are generally sins of commission rather than omission. And they are anomalies in the modern Democratic Party for precisely this reason -- and the Party knows it. Half the Party is in awe of that… can’t exactly imagine how they pull it off, but love that they do so. And the other half of the Party is appalled… can’t figure out why these freaks call themselves Democrats, and feel personally sullied by the association.

When Samantha Power (sic) called Hillary a “monster,” she was actually expressing very precisely what the power-hating branch of the Democratic Party feels. They feel that all power is monstrous, and that anyone who seeks and wields it is a monster, a freak, not One of Us. “She’s tearing apart the Democratic Party,” they lament. Well, yes, she is – if by “Democratic Party” you mean some kind of wonderfully pure Suicide Salon.

The people who supported Bill, though, and those who support Hillary, by and large, need someone in power. These are women who are assaulted by a male-dominated society and need protection from it. These are poor or nearly-poor people for whom a recession will mean life-threatening privation. These are people for whom the dysfunction of the healthcare system has a very direct and often catastrophic impact on their lives.

In contrast, the people who support Obama, with the notable exception of one population, can weather a recession, a crappy healthcare system and a misogynist society pretty safely. African Americans, of course, are supporting him for obvious and emotionally compelling reasons. But the rest of Obama’s base is, by and large, well-off, young and well educated. They self-experience as post-racial and post-sexist. They are the Children of Stewart (Jon). They live in a deconstructed world, worship Irony (which is why Wright generated a bit of cognitive dissonance) and have a quasi-libertarian distrust of institutions and those who lead them.

These people have the luxury of being theoretical and aesthetic, of treating politics as theater. And they only go to the plays that express the metaphors and abstractions that make them feel the most special. They sure as hell aren’t turned on by someone who seems to embody specific thoughts about what he or she will actually do. That’s wonkery. That’s boring – even kind of icky. Yeah, yeah, policies, positions, programs, whatever. The main thing is how you get there. The main thing is “approach,” “mindset,” style.

In fact, in some ways these people are like the right-wing think-tankers of the ‘90s, the post-history, American Enterprise Institute, Andrew Sullivan crowd – also well-off, academic, libertarian, distrustful of all institutions, culturally hip and disdainful of the values (and often the persons) of the unwashed… whether those values had a right-leaning (theocratic) or left-leaning (welfare-loving) bent. It doesn’t seem even a little bit surprising that Francis Fukayama just endorsed Obama.

For both of these groups, there is a longing for conflict to be over, for racism and sexism to be reduced to the “identity politics” of our tribal past, for the human trip to graduate, finally, to the broadband-enabled Jane Jacobs-urban, creative-class utopia that is its destiny. I share this wish. But I know we ain’t there yet.

The Democratic Party is gradually emerging from its anti-power phase… and the fact that Hillary has even made it this far is testament to that. But the Party is still a bit pathetic. It’s still unable to marshal any real opposition to radical assaults on America – from outside the country or within. It’s still unable to gather itself around any principles long enough to leave a tire mark. It’s still unable to work up the adult determination to serve and protect. And it’s still fatally attracted to Anti-Power, especially in the person of such a cool, effete, seductive emblem, this figure from central casting who helps them preserve their own narcissistically Hippocratic self-image.

So, while I believe the view of Lambert at Corrente is right as far as it goes -- “it’s control over the party machinery that’s the have-to-have [for the Obama campaign], and the election that’s the nice-to-have” – I am inclined to take the thought a bit farther. It’s not just that they’ll take the loss, but at an unconscious level they actually seek it. The winners may write history, but it’s the losers who get to write the poetry.

Anyway, to these people, Hillary is an aberration, an alien, a monster – even worse than Monster Bill. She’s like Grendel’s mother, she’s Monster Squared. Or like the double-mawed beast in Alien – the devouring woman-monster emerging out of the multi-fanged pol-monster. Her Terminator-like determination – and the concept of her actually winning – is making these people’s brains explode, like in Scanners. No wonder they want her to drop out, or off the face of the planet. No wonder Keith Olbermann fantasized someone taking her into a closed room and finishing her off.

Monday, May 26, 2008

If Blogs Could Kill

Their crocodile rage is father to the thought. The lefty blogosphere and the Obamanaut media are speaking a truth about dark longings – but not Hillary Clinton’s. They are speaking their own. They will not be satisfied until the witch is dead.

Heading into this Democratic primary season, nobody expected this descent into the pit. It felt, instead, like Prague Spring, as though we had an overabundance of hope-iness. We certainly didn’t see the re-emergence of the rough beast, slouching toward Washington to be born-again.

Now that the wheels are coming off, we’re back with the recognition that the center cannot hold. Of course, that’s especially the case when you don’t start out with much of a center. Centeredness and groundedness have never been the Obama Movement’s strength. This has always been a postmodern political phenomenon – deliberately shunning any real ground or tether… of policy, or coalition-building, or worldview… in order to feel itself more and more intensely. That’s the essence of its airy, content-free and expansive appeal.

Only thing is, when the falcon cannot hear the falconer, as Yeats pointed out, it’s not only hope that’s let loose. This is when we see the best lacking all conviction, and the worst revving up their passionate intensity.

We’re sure seeing some of that passionate intensity now. The most recent definition of it can be found at the MSNBC website, in Keith Olbermann’s latest “special comment.” Check it out. That’s the face of hate, circa 2008. And the striking thing about the Obama campaign today – as his actual presence dissolves and fades… and as the prospect of higher euphoric highs evaporates amid the persistent realities of recession, Wright, rising negatives and a shrinking electoral base – is how rapidly and thoroughly hatred has taken it over.

His candidacy used to be a hollow shell into which people poured their narcissistic but good-hearted fantasies. Crowds chanted that yes, they could. Teenage girls swooned – as did journalists, with countless thrills running up their legs. But now the campaign has become a vessel for darker purposes – a socially acceptable pretext for crazed misogyny, for letting go with a good snarl.

With the uproar over Hillary’s remarks about staying in the race and Bobby Kennedy’s campaign and assassination, we have reached some kind of nadir of hysteria. There is simply nothing wrong with what she said – not one word was inaccurate or unclear or malicious or even particularly noteworthy. So un-noteworthy, in fact, that her repeated published references to the primary of June 1968 and its dénouement, in the months before this, didn’t make an impression on anyone who heard or read them – including RFK Jr. The fact that people are actually publishing claims that she is trying obliquely to threaten Obama’s life, or that she was suggesting the possibility of his assassination as the reason she’s sticking around… this stuff is so exuberantly deranged that it can only be sincere.

We should hear the truth in their nouns, names and verbs – but understand that the syntax is a disguise. The subjects and objects are flipped. These people are warming up their hate engines, and heading into town. They are Jim Jones ranting over the PA that Leo Ryan and the rest of his party were the first wave of a coming invasion that planned to wipe them out.

She’s gunning for him, they assure us. We always knew she was That Bad, that far “beyond the pale.” We can't let her continue. Something must be done. In the words of one front-page poster on MyDD, formerly a Hillary-friendly site: “No context can save her. She must go.” Writers in the mainstream media and the blogosphere are engaging in adjectival one-up-manship. Her remarks are “stomach-turning,” Roger Cohen in the Times says. Bloggers aren’t so circumspect:

“A fucked up human piece of trash”

“I would prop up a stinking corpse before I turn to her.”

“Your behavior, Sen. Clinton is subhuman. In fact even animals will be ashamed of you if I were to compare you to them.”

“… she's trying to ‘plant’ ideas. If anything happens...she's Guilty as hell. I'm saving this link and I will make sure she is charged and brought to justice!”

“How much is the bitch offering for the job?”

“Guess we know where to look if anyone takes aim at Obama. And there for all those years I dismissed those rumors of Clintons killing to get what they wanted or to stay in power. Guess I was wrong!”

“Talk About WHITE TRASH that bitch better keep looking over her shoulder.”

In a front-page article – not an opinion piece – the Grey Lady licks its chops and decides it is newsworthy to imagine that she is now a pariah even in the Senate: “There is also the personal challenge of returning to a club where more Democratic members, some quite pointedly, favored Senator Barack Obama and spurned her. For Mrs. Clinton, who has spent years cultivating friendships and raising money for colleagues, that had to hurt.”

Hurts real good, don’t it, babe?

On the other side of this schizoid fear-and-loathing circus, some blogs continue to treat her as omnipotent: “Everyone in the party is afraid of the Clintons.” Afraid, presumably, to tell this “ghoulish” harpy what these brave posters will: “Any human being with a shred of dignity left would concede this race.” But, of course, she has no shred of dignity, or humanity. “What Hillary said wasn't just sickening. The very fact that she said it broke a lot of unwritten norms in this town. And that's horribly telling about who this woman is.”

This explosion of gleeful, self-righteous umbrage is not, of course, a reaction to some actual “new low” in the political history of the humans, but rather the coming-out party for a new high – a rising tide of feeling that is normally suppressed in more polite society, but now finds itself permitted in the public square. Unwritten norms are being broken, all right. And it isn’t grim or resigned, but joyous. We’re witnessing a Renaissance of vitriol, a Ride of the Commentariat Valkyries.

In the trope of Olbermann, this Jonestown’s poet laureate, it’s way past time for someone to take Hillary into a room… and come out alone. He has looked into her soul – her soul, mind you… he actually uses that word – and finds it, to paraphrase Conrad’s Marlow, to be mad.

People, of course, always self-describe. All one has to do is watch Olbermann rage and sputter – so excited he stumbles over his words – to see that he has found a way to express a part of his soul that longed to come out. After years of locker-room wit and invective, he has finally found his true subject – and it has compelled him to cry fire in a crowded theater. He is using his bully pulpit to give full-throated vent to his wish. Like the Jeff Bridges character in The Fisher King – only so much more sincerely – he has called for the myriad misogynists out there to put an end to the soulless monster. Anglachel, as always, nails it.

In point of fact, if Hillary was engaging in any unconscious personal identification with RFK, it was most likely about herself. (Cue the Obamasphere’s derisive snorts: “She’s in danger? Don’t make us laugh. She’s an indestructible monster. She’s the Terminator. It’s the Precious who is vulnerable, because he’s so pure and good and makes us hope so.” And cue the invariably myopic opportunism of David Axelrod and the Obama campaign, which wasn’t content to light the match initially, with their more-in-sorrow “no place in this campaign” statement, but saw fit to email transcripts of Olbermann’s spittle-spewing rant to every press source in their rolodex. The Unity Pony, always a creature of rhetoric and not reality, was out to pasture as usual. Like the Palestinians, when it comes to helping the Democratic Party, Obama has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.)

On a conscious level, of course, her reference was shorthand to remind us that she was around for the political struggles of the ‘60s, when Obama was six and his children-crusaders were not yet gleaming in anybody’s eye. She distilled the most memorable and contentious Democratic primary struggle of modern times into its signal moment – and also picked up on the current 40th anniversary attention to 1968, from Brokaw to Pete Hamill's piece about that night, in the most recent issue of New York Magazine. But below that surface, why should we decide that she was fantasizing Obama’s assassination? If anything, isn’t it more likely she was unconsciously ruminating on the possibility of her own?

If so, it would be with good reason.

One candidate in this race has been the object of an explosion of hatred, threats of violence, imagined rape, demonization and dehumanization, her expressions of emotion sneered at, her treatment of her daughter compared to that of a pimp.

One candidate has been the subject of exuberant homicidal fantasies – in merchandise sold over the Web, in public, on “news” broadcasts.

One candidate’s continued presence has been the occasion for myriad commentators to plumb their mental thesauruses for adjectives and metaphors of disgust and assault. The sheer metaphoric richness of the NC-17 tag cloud that has formed around Clinton makes the discourse surrounding Obama look like Dora the Explorer.

And only one candidate has prompted cultural references of the most sadistic and brutal caste, allusions that speak volumes about their users’ wishes and fears. Glenn Close lying dead in a bathtub – at long last – is but the latest in a litany that constitutes a virtual history of the horror film.

That candidate has not been Barack Obama.

We are witnessing a rising orgy of misogyny. And rise it will. This mob is just feeling its oats – and Obama is entirely incapable of controlling the swelling tide for which he is the pretext… if, in fact, he has any wish to do so. To stem it, to supply the magical uniting pixie dust that is his political calling card, he’d actually have to be a leader, and if we’ve learned anything about him over the course of this campaign, it’s that he is not and never has been that.

I think it’s quite clear that Hillary Clinton is the world political figure in the greatest physical danger today. We don’t have to go back to 1968 in America for a point of reference. We can just flip back to December 27, 2007, in Pakistan (an assassination that, let it be remembered, the Obama campaign laid indirectly at Clinton’s door). Only, to judge from the rhetoric we’ve seen over this past year, the danger Hillary faces comes more from the left than from the right.

This danger is real – to her, and to many more. The beast has been unleashed, and I fear that dark times lie ahead.