“At the Portsmouth cafe on Monday, talking to a group of mostly women, Hillary Clinton blinked back her misty dread of where Barack Obama‘s ‘false hopes’ will lead us — ‘I just don’t want to see us fall backwards,’ she said tremulously — in time to smack her rival: ‘But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not.’

“There was a poignancy about the moment, seeing Hillary crack with exhaustion from decades of yearning to be the principal rather than the plus-one. But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.
“As Spencer Tracy said to Katharine Hepburn in Adam’s Rib, ‘Here we go again, the old juice. Guaranteed heart melter. A few female tears, stronger than any acid.’
“The Clintons once more wriggled out of a tight spot at the last minute. Bill churlishly dismissed the Obama phenom as ‘the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen,’ but for the last few days, it was Hillary who seemed in danger of being Cinderella. She became emotional because she feared that she had reached her political midnight, when she would suddenly revert to the school girl with geeky glasses and frizzy hair, smart but not the favorite. All those years in the shadow of one Natural, only to face the prospect of being eclipsed by another Natural?
“How humiliating to have a moderator of the New Hampshire debate ask her to explain why she was not as popular as the handsome young prince from Chicago. How demeaning to have Obama rather ungraciously chime in: ‘You’re likable enough.’ And how exasperating to be pushed into an angry rebuttal when John Edwards played wingman, attacking her on Obama’s behalf.
“Her argument against Obama now boils down to an argument against idealism, which is probably the lowest and most unlikely point to which any Clinton could sink. The people from Hope are arguing against hope.
“At her victory party, Hillary was like the heroine of a Lifetime movie, a woman in peril who manages to triumph. Saying that her heart was full, she sounded the feminist anthem: ‘I found my own voice.'” — from Maureen Dowd‘s 1.9.08 N.Y. Times column, “Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?”