- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 5, 2004

With apologies to the shade of Walter Winchell:

Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. America, from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea. Let’s go to press.

How’s this for depressing? Just three days after the last presidential election, the AP started speculating about the next one when it noted that the “presumptive leading candidates are New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Northeastern centrist and … .”

Stop right there. Centrist? … Why, sure. Didn’t you notice that, during the just mercifully concluded campaign, current senator from New York and former first lady (of Arkansas and the United States) Hillary Clinton didn’t pal around with Michael Moore and the rest of the more hysterical wing of her party? As if it might rub off. … Miss Hillary is already thinking ahead. Because the best time for a presidential hopeful to position herself for the next presidential election is during the current one. … By 2008, her makeover should be complete. From Lady Macbeth to Mrs. Miniver. … It has been a long strange trip: Over the years she’s gone from suburban Goldwater Girl to Radical Professor to Stepford Wife to Wronged Woman to Her Own Woman and next to — commander in chief?

The lady molts with the political seasons, shucking old personas and adopting new ones as she goes up the political ladder. … Don’t scoff, conservatives, you could wind up voting for her if the GOP, grown fat and sassy, fails to nominate a strong candidate in ‘08. … If her rapid costume changes put you off, there’s no denying the senator/first lady’s sheer competence at each upwardly mobile stage. Now she’s a centrist before it is as popular a position as it doubtless will be in 2008. …

There are mighty few things about this last presidential campaign I will miss, but one of them is the spectacle of all those Hollywood stars and starlets who appeared in speaking though not thinking roles. … Every time one of ‘em let loose with a flood of Whoopi Goldberg vulgarities, or shared some oh-so-deep thoughts with the Great Unwashed who needed to be told where our real political/economic/cultural interests lay, you could almost hear another whole generation of American conservatives being born. … The uniform condescension, the ersatz superiority, the repetitive vituperation in place of reasoned argument, the substitution of class and fashion or just general glibness for any thoughtful attempt to persuade — it was exhilarating. Imagine the reactions to the whole star-studded spectacle out here in flyover land. You could almost see all those states in the heartland turning redder. … With help like that, Poor John Kerry needed no hindrance.

And then there were our foreign friends. … What would this presidential election have been without them? Answer: much closer. … What possessed John Kerry to confide that various unnamed foreign leaders were rooting for him? Who could that have been — Jacques Chirac? Gerhard Schroeder? He wouldn’t name names, as if their endorsement was a secret.

Their support, he soon realized, could only hurt him. Which is why a savvy candidate would have kept all that under wraps. This country’s whole history is based on getting as far away as possible from old Europe, not accepting its tutelage. …

Everyone probably has his own favorite set of returns in this election, but mine had to be this tidbit from Ohio: John Kerry actually carried every county in that state that Al Gore had carried four years before. Except one. That one was Clark County. Sound familiar? That’s the county Britain’s Guardian newspaper urged its readers to deluge with letters in support of Sen. Kerry. … How brilliant — for Republicans.

Because, at least since 1776, Americans have balked at taking orders from our British cousins. The vote in Clark County, Ohio, was one more instance of American independence, aka orneriness. Don’t you love it?

Now it’s time to sign off for Jergen’s with lots of love. …

Paul Greenberg is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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