Hillary Rodham Clinton continues to defy all expectations, said Katharine Seelye and Dalia Sussman in The New York Times. 'œHarsh,' 'œcold,' and 'œphony' are some of the nicer things being said about her. In a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, 'œ40 percent of voters view her unfavorably, more than any of the other major candidates for president.' Yet despite all that, she's solidifying her front-runner status for the Democratic nomination. National polls show Hillary with a stable, 45 percent to 30 percent lead over her nearest competitor, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, and a sense of inevitability is emerging about her candidacy. More than 80 percent of all voters believe she'll get the Democratic nomination. And 63 percent of all voters'”including Republicans'”now believe she'll be our next president. 'œI would say I am winning,' a confident Clinton said last week. 'œI am winning.'
After watching this week's Democratic debate in South Carolina, said Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard, I can see why. Whether the topic was nuclear power or Iran, Hillary came across as the most intelligent, serious, and seasoned competitor in the bunch. Barack Obama, so exciting on the stump, was 'œdull' and unsure of himself. Asked if he, as president, would meet with the dictators of Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela, Obama eagerly said, 'œI would,' which only made him look naÃ¯ve. Clinton said she'd consider meeting with anti-American dictators if there were a good reason, but would be careful not to be exploited for 'œpropaganda purposes.' There's a long way yet to go, and Clinton is not yet inevitable. 'œBut of the 18 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, Clinton is the most likely to be the next president.'
Her big advantage is her experience, said Dan Balz and Jon Cohen in The Washington Post. Obama may be charismatic, and there's a lot of appeal to his message of offering America a fresh start, without the bitter partisanship of the past. But a new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that Democrats also believe that 'œstrength and experience are more important than new ideas or a new direction,' and on that basis, Hillary trumps Obama by more than 30 points. No knock against Obama, said Susan Estrich in FoxNews.com. But with just two years in the U.S. Senate, and no history of managing anything, the guy is a long way from proving that he can handle 'œa promotion to the hardest job in the world.'
You're forgetting one thing, said David Shribman in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Voters are sick of the Clintons' ruthlessness, 'œtawdry fund-raising efforts, and mind-numbing, hair-splitting semantic arguments.' Many voters also suspect that Bill and Hillary have made a cynical 'œpower-sharing pact,' in which she ignored his infidelities so that he'd help her become president. When the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucuses arrive six months from now, don't be surprised if Hillary's poll leads vanish and Obama surges past her. 'œThe two most powerful words in American politics are 'had enough.' '