Hillary Takes Charge

Hillary Clinton has taken charge of the 2008 presidential campaign, her national lead is wide, and intensity of support for her leading opponents is declining.

This is not an endorsement or value judgment, only a state-of-play analysis that is not being well-reported in the media, despite the media obsession with all things Hillary.

Disclosure: I have advocated a Gore-Obama ticket, written about it here and elsewhere, advocated it behind the scenes, and it has generated serious buzz in the political world.

Personally I would enthusiasticallly support Hillary or any of the other candidates if they are nominated.

Having said that, I propose there are now multiple tiers of candidates. Hillary is now alone in the top tier. Obama and Edwards are now in tier one and a half. Richardson and Dodd are in the next tier, with Biden showing periodic signs of life.

Give credit where it is due: Hillary plays to win and knows how to. In 1992 and 1996 she was at the core of an eight-year Democratic presidency, and make no mistake: Compared to George Bush, the Clinton administration is Mount Rushmore.

In 2000 Hillary swept into New York — and don’t forget, while Rudy Giuliani withdrew for many reasons, Hillary had taken charge in that campaign as well. Does anyone remember her 2000 and 2006 Republican opponents?

Take a look at the New York Senate returns and notice how Hillary expanded her support beyond the traditional Democratic base, upstate and elsewhere.

As a JFK and RFK Democrat, it’s hard for me to get upset about political aggressiveness, which in a man is viewed as an asset but in a woman takes some getting used to.

Prediction: The Hillary initiative to raise money from women will have powerful results that will be front-page news when second-quarter numbers are reported, and will not be matched by any other candidate.

The jib-jab about these latest Hillary books may fill dead air time, but means nothing.

Hillary is like the Borg in “Star Trek”: All that stuff is factored in by voters, but she just charges right past the jib-jab.

Hillary has conquered sexism, but to become leader of the free world, she has to conquer insiderism and caution. I’d like to see Hillary act young again, take risks again, and have more passion and idealism and less calculation and maneuvering.

I wait for Al Gore, and in the meantime there is only one candidate truly in the top tier with the rest of the field lagging behind, and it is Hillary Clinton.

Like Frank Sinatra, Hillary Clinton does it her way.