Even vanquished, Hillary looks like top-of-the-ticket material

Hillary Clinton, under the flag, at Green Valley High.
Photo: Sam Morris

The role of subordinate so doesn’t fit Hillary Clinton. She’s not built for “vice” or “assistant” or “associate,” anything. That’s what I came away with today after watching her play good soldier (dressed in dark navy blue) during a rally for Barack Obama at Green Valley High School. Clinton dutifully praised Obama, her junior by 13 years and immeasurable life experience, as “having lived the American dream,” and said, “those who voted for me have a lot more in common with Barack Obama than with John McCain.” True, but it was nothing more than a firm reiteration of the obvious. There was obligatory applause and cheering from the assembled crowd of about 1,100, many of them die-hard Clinton supporters who caucused for her during her primary victory over Obama in January but found themselves holding aloft “Obama: Change We Can Believe In” signs at today’s event.

Hillary Clinton, representing  Change You Can Believe In.

Hillary Clinton, representing Change You Can Believe In.

But Clinton seemed to perk up when on the attack, and she relishes digging into George W. Bush. Her best line, oft-repeated: “George W. Bush and John McCain are two sides of the same coin, and that doesn’t add up to a whole lotta change.” As she delivers that zinger, Clinton nods slightly and casts a knowing, satisfied look similar to when a major leaguer knows he’s connected for a home run. She also said the Republican Party should hold a news conference to apologize for ruining the country during the Bush administration, and should do the noble thing and “not run anyone for president this year.” She’d be great wielding the hatchet as a vice-presidential candidate, whacking around Mitt Romney and eviscerating hecklers. But she’s too strong to be No. 2, too powerful. You can only have one No. 1, and watching Obama in cozy appearances with Evan Bayh and Tim Kaine, seemingly eager to be deputized, it’s clear that Clinton is too formidable a figure to be a vice president. Obama, wicked-smark, surely realizes that.

At a news conference after the rally, Clinton said her supporters could well place her name into nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and have it read during the roll call vote, as a way of showing her supporters (and her) a measure of respect. Maybe that’ll happen; maybe it’ll work. And Bill Clinton, still a little sideways over how he was depicted in the primaries (at least he was in that ABC News interview the other day, where he was asked if he had any regrets about the campaign and said he was "not a racist") will be provided prime-time podium time and is also expected to campaign for and with Obama. But the woman who appeared in town today, and who won our state’s primary, is no second fiddle. At GVHS, she led the whole band.

These folks refused to be deflated.

These folks refused to be deflated.

Some more notes from today’s to-do:

--An anti-Obama, pro-McCain, group waved signs reading “change your mind” and handed out tire-pressure gauges with messages reading, “Obama’s plan to lower gas prices … inflate your tires! McCain supports drilling to lower gas prices.” I imagine what flunky drew the assignment to glue these little signs on dozens of tire gauges. Who says volunteering for a political campaign is without fulfilling service work?

As I walked toward the GVHS entrance, a young guy approached me and asked if I wanted one of these gauges.

“Are they operable?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” he asked back.

“Do they work?” I asked, again.

“Oh! Yeah, they work,” he said. So I wheeled around and walked back to my car, unscrewed the cap to my valve stem and checked the pressure. Thirty-seven pounds.

My tire-pressure gauge.

My tire-pressure gauge.

McCain backers should know a few things to they can keep up here: The valve stem is that little hard-rubber piece connected to the tire, and the spot where you actually inflate said tire with a machine that pumps compressed air (you can find these at most convenience store fuel islands and they cost 50 cents to operate, usually). To use a tire-pressure gauge, slip the open end of the gauge over the top of the valve stem and a little square measuring stick is forced out by the air pressure. Read the number on that stick at the point where it stops, and compare it to the number next to the recommended P.S.I. (pounds per square inch) listed on the side of the tire (those are the four black, round, rubber things under the car that help the driver navigate the vehicle). My car’s recommended P.S.I. is 44. So, I’m seven pounds short of fully inflated.

Sort of like the McCain campaign.

Hillary For President stuff -- for a bargain.

Hillary For President stuff -- for a bargain.

-- For sale at tables at the gym entrance were Hillary Clinton for President shirts and hats. They were a bargain, $5 apiece.

-- The air conditioning at the GVHS gym was out during the morning, repaired just hours before Clinton’s appearance. Had it not been repaired, this would have been far more noteworthy than a note, because it was hot-sticky-humid this afternoon and there’s no group so quick to express their unhappiness as a large throng of political activists, a trait that really is post-partisan.

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