I’m just starting to come out of denial and face the distinct possibility that it’ll be the deeply divisive and (in some redneck quarters) deeply loathed Hilary Clinton vs. the eccentric Rudolph Giuliani (Vanity Fair‘s Michael Wolff says there’s reason to regard him as an out-and-out whackjob) in the ’08 Presidential race.

This, at least, is what’s indicated in a late August Gallup phone survey that was conducted, according to the N.Y. Times, from 8.23 to 8.26. Putting aside my Barack Obama loyalties, I’m more or less fine with Clinton on her own terms. But the lunchbucket rurals truly despise her, or so I’m given to believe. I read a piece yesterday (or the day before) that claimed some Democratic legislators up for reelection next year are terrified about how Clinton’s coattails may affect their chances.

How is it and why is it that Clinton is now (according to Gallup) beating Obama among Democratic voters by a nearly two-to-one margin — 48% to 25%? Because of that bullshit cheap shot she threw at Obama that implied he would talk to guys like Hugo Chavez without the usual advance diplomatic spade work? Because women are behind her because she’s a woman and it’s time to assert gender politics in a seismic way? Because Obama is African-American (which, of course, no one will ever cop to)?

Something’s strange here…off. Obama is the brilliant and charismatic “right now” guy — a man in his ’40s, almost a GenXer — who brings vision and practical-mind- edness to the table and who isn’t tied into decades-old battles and resentments and histories. And yet Hilary — a brittle, occasionally snippy, over-scripted boomer who brings along truckloads of poisonous baggage left over from the ’90s and Bill Clinton‘s Presidency — is way in front. Why isn’t the race closer?

In an ideal world it would be Obama or John Edwards vs. Fred Thompson. I don’t agree with Thompson’s right-wing beliefs and alliances plus he’s looking a bit old and crotchety these days, but he’s an urbane and witty guy who knows acting and the movie business, and he can feign a Bubba pickup-truck attitude at the drop of a hat.