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How I Fell Back in Love With Hillary

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It all went down on a rainy, chilly Los Angeles evening. It was this past Thursday, actually. Curled up on the couch, I listened to the sky cry bitter tears over God’s inability to produce a clear choice in the Democratic race. I watched as Barack stole my heart, then Hillary, then Barack again. How was I ever going to decide? Both so good, so different, so…not Republican. Until suddenly, Hillary uttered those magnificent words that changed my vote forever…

But first, some back story. Let’s rewind to November 3, 2004, a dark day in the memories of many. I had just gotten back from canvassing my little idealistic heart out for Kerry in Nevada, only to find that my efforts were in vain and we were staring another four years in the ugly face.

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In an attempt to lift my and my fellow activists' spirits, my friend T marched into the room with the following phrase written hastily in marker on white paper: "Hillary '08." Ha ha, we said, it would be glrious but it could never, ever happen. We then returned, unknowing, to our sorrow.

Fast forward three years and three months. A lot has gone down since that dismal moment. The Democratic Convention of 2004 introduced us to a young Senator from Chicago whose soaring rhetoric would pave the way for his historic presidential run. I was swayed by his speechifying, his dashing good looks, and the Best YouTube Video Ever; Obama Girl. And Hillary...well, even with that '04 dream looking like a viable reality, she was seeming so boring compared to Barack.

Up until South Carolina, it had all seemed like cake. So many choices! Would it be Edwards? Clinton? Obama? Such luxury, what with the ridiculous old goats being put up by the Republicans. Lots of us Democrats sat smugly in our Volkswagens with our lattes and our New York Times, lost in our collective fantasy of Obama, Clinton, and Nicolas Sarkozy running hand-in-hand through fields of daisies, espousing the many benefits of universal health care. "How can we make it better?" they'd ask each other, drunk on freedom wine.

But suddenly, from left field--McCain.

I'll be honest here, I've always felt a little threatened by McCain, in part because my one Republican friend -who is, to be fair, very moderate--loves him, and has always said that he has her vote should he ever run for anything she could vote for him in. Sonofabitch!! A wild card! Different enough from the Huckabees and the Romneys, yet similar enough to Presidents past. And how, oh how, will we ever get a leg up on his wartime experience? We're doomed!

Which brings me to Thursday. It's still raining. I know that each candidate brings hope for change, and they're both just so charmant now that they've decided to put away the gloves and play nice for the remaining 10 seconds of the pre-Super Tuesday race. So how will I know who to pick in the end?

The subject turns to Iraq, and Hillary gets close to being backed into a corner about her vote. It's a tough vote to defend, and it's always been a sticking point for people I know who would otherwise be riding the Clinton part deux train.

Clinton is defensive, but suddenly, she pivots: "I think now, we have to look at how we go forward." Wise move. "There will be a great debate between us and the Republicans, because the Republicans are still committed to George Bush's policy, and some are more committed than others, with Senator McCain's recent comments," she goes on.

"He's now accusing me of surrendering because I believe we should withdraw starting within 60 days of my becoming president. Well, that is a debate I welcome, because I think the Democrats have a much better grasp of the reality of the situation that we are confronting." Holy balls, batman! She's welcoming a debate on war with a 22-year veteran! She's pre-empting any attacks on her ability to steer the country through a war as a Democratic woman--the easiest target the Republicans could possibly have hoped for (or so they think)--by beating them to the punch.

She goes on, clearly having landed squarely on her offensive talking point: "The Republicans will try to put either one of us into the same box that, if we oppose this president's Iraq policy, somehow we cannot fully represent the interests of the United States, be commander-in- chief. I reject that out of hand, and I actually welcome that debate with whomever they nominate."

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Sha-ZAM. Let's just be clear--Hillary Clinton is not scared. Yes, she's good on policy, as is Obama. But let's also be real--this broad knows exactly what she's doing, and she knows how to handle her business on the campaign trail. Like it or not, good policy alone doesn't land a candidate in the White House; strategy is just as important as anything else in this race. Which is why, after all this time, I've made a return to November 3, 2004. Hillary '08.

Photo by Daniella Zalcman via Flickr

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