Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Common Touch

Open The New York Times to the table of contents (pages 2 and 3) and you'll probably see a border of advertisements like the recent one featuring several different makes of watches, all selling for more than $3,500 a piece. But that doesn't mean its reporters haven't read the Grapes of Wrath and The Jungle and Jackie Collins' The Bitch:

Mrs. Clinton has spent her whole life climbing the ladders of education, wealth and power. Now, as part of her effort to hold off Senator Barack Obama and claim the Democratic presidential nomination, she is climbing back down them, sounding less like a Wellesley alumna than Roseanne Barr's old sitcom character, the den mother of her factory floor.


At a union hall in garbage-strewn Gary, Mrs. Clinton began her early-evening speech looking wan. But as she began talking about magnets and wheel bases, her eyes grew rounder and her small hands danced with expressive energy. She sounded as if, once she is done with the presidency business, she might like to try the steel one, joining those in the audience wearing "Women of Steel" T-shirts.


After the event in Fort Wayne, Mrs. Clinton greeted supporter after ardent supporter waiting in the chilly wind, her quilted black Chanel-style coat and subtly highlighted hairdo contrasting with the many untended dye jobs and chapped, makeup-less faces. Fans snapped her picture, some with camera phones, others with cheap cardboard ones.

"I was going to go to Wellesley, but I was going to have to pay back so much," a young woman told her.

Inexplicably, Senator Clinton went to a union hall and talked about ... jobs. With a bunch of unambitious and ill-kempt losers wielding primitive cameras.

It's not clear whether the Senator's "Chanel-style coat" signals her elitism or her faux-populist pandering. Either way, the woman is drunk with power and Canadian hootch, and she intends to take these rustics for a ride.

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