Human, All Too Human

Human, All Too Human

Senator Hillary Clinton's voice broke and she seemed on the verge of tears Monday in New Hampshire speaking about the primary campaign: "You know this is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public, I see what's happening and we have to reverse it."

When chided later by some in the media (including a number of liberals) and indirectly by one of her rivals, John Edwards, for that display of emotion, Senator Clinton said that politicians in the past have been known to scream and to cry.

The trouble is, the politician best known for screaming is Howard Dean, whose war whoop after losing the Iowa primary in 2004 seemed to doom his campaign. And the politician best remembered for apparently crying (he denied it), Edmund Muskie, then lost his 1972 bid for the White House.

The rival who handily beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa, Barack Obama, exposed his own troubled childhood in an autobiography, Dreams From My Father. But on the campaign trail Obama has been inspirational, exciting his growing multitude of supporters with Kennedy-like visions of generational change and transformed politics. (Whether Obama's policies resemble Jack Kennedy's rather than Bobby's will be discussed in a future column.)

But the point is that Obama speaks far more often about voters, the country and the world than about himself. Many voters have indicated to pollsters that they're tired of following the personal travails of Bill and Hillary Clinton. What may have been simply a human moment for Hillary could strike some voters as another chapter in a rather long-running soap opera. Let's see how New Hampshire responds.


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