A Doer in the Headlights


The presidential contenders — a gaggle of self-styled New England patriots, at least temporarily — are hunkered down right now in New Hampshire waiting to see who’s going to be voted off the continent.

At the last minute, trailing Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton swore that she is a “doer.” Yeah, a doer in the headlights. Her eyes welled up with tears, so the stories say, and though it’s more likely that they were crocodilian and that she was cynically playing the stereotypical-female card (or the press was), columnist Errol Louis of the New York Daily News says he thinks those tears were 100 percent saline:

Cynics will say Hillary Clinton’s emotional response to a voter’s question in New Hampshire was a calculated bid for sympathy, right down to the choking voice and eyes welling with tears, as she spoke about how high the personal and political stakes are in the presidential race.

I think every word was genuine and in no way a negative reflection on Clinton’s fitness to be commander in chief. It’s not an example of the age-old dilemma that powerful women face when trying to appear commanding and caring at the same time – a tightrope Clinton has always walked nicely, by the way.

But I’m also positive that such appeals can’t possibly trigger the last-minute change of mind among voters it would take to save Clinton from losing today’s primary to Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, we sit back haplessly and see this tiny — beautiful but really tiny — state decide for the rest of the country who we’re going to be stuck with to follow the disastrous Bush regime.

And isn’t it fitting that New Hampshire, whose population is 1.1 percent black in a nation whose overall population is 12.8 percent black, may decide the fate of the most viable black presidential candidate ever?

This is democracy? It’s like Pakistan, only colder. New Hampshire’s state motto is particularly apt: “Live free or die.” After the primary results are in, several of these candidates will probably have to exit, ending their free ride of matching campaign funds and potential Secret Service protection and future taxpayer-funded royal living.

As the wife of a former president, Clinton will continue to live high with free protection from the commoners, but today still may turn out to be a black moment for her.

There’s nothing wrong with weeping — it’s only human — but if she cries tonight, those tears will be believable.

The one piece of truthtelling yesterday came from, of all people, Roger Clemens. The pitcher injected at least a little honesty into his Monday press conference when, acting like a ‘roid rage driver after a fender-bender, he angrily said, “I put my butt on the line and I worked my tail off . . .”

Yes, he did put his butt on the line so his trainer, Brian McNamee, could inject something into it.

We’re still waiting for Clemens’s first bout of crying.