A Lipstick President - Dowd - New York Times

Hillary's not playing the vocal peacenik this time - she's the cagey hawk. She knows if she wants to be the first woman president, she can't have love beads in her jewelry box.

She has defended her vote to authorize the president to wage war, even though it was apparent then that the administration was snookering the country. And she has argued for more troops in Iraq, knowing it sounds muscular but there's no support for it from the public - or Rummy.

She figures the liberals will stay with her while she scuttles to the center, even if they get angry when she's not out front on stopping the war or preserving abortion rights. No one knows how she'll vote on John Roberts, so this could be her own Sister Souljah moment - will she break with the hard-line left on Judge Roberts?

What Hillary has going for her is exhaustion. Exhaustion kicks in with any party in power for eight years, let alone one that tricked the country into war. And at some point, voters may be too exhausted to resist Hillary's relentless ambition any longer.

But by hanging back and trimming her positions, by keeping her powder dry until a more politically advantageous time, she may miss the moment when Americans are looking for someone to emerge from her cowering party to articulate their anger about Iraq or their fear about a Supreme Court that will scale back women's rights and civil rights here, as Islamic courts do the same in Iraq.

Hillary may get caught flat-footed. Or she may be right in betting that there's no need to do anything rash now, like leading.

A Lipstick President - New York Times


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