Puma Pellets

One of the more bizarre spectacles of the 2008 presidential campaign had to be the PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass)—Clinton II dead-enders who absolutely refused to accept that she had lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama. Like those furtive, fugitive WWII Japanese soldiers who scurried for years around remote South Pacific atolls, declining to follow the Emperor into surrender, PUMAs could not concede when their Queen did.hillary-clinton-eyes They left the party, claiming the party, in failing to crown Clinton II, had left them. Stubborn and ornery as unreconstructed Confederates, there were never that many of them, but they made a lot of noise: pounding their keyboards on renegade blogs, keening loudly on gossipy TV shows. Resembling those bullfrogs that swell up to intimidate potential predators, they managed to convince some people they were bigger and fiercer than they really were. In the end, they even encouraged Bomb McCain—when ordered by Karl Rove to eschew Joe Lieberman as his vice president—to shoot his own campaign right in the stomach, by choosing the moose-brained Sarah Palin as his running mate . . . on the theory she would stampede the PUMAs to the GOP, allowing him to ride them into the White House. Didn’t work out too good, that one, did it, John?

Like cancer cells beaten into remission, they glumly clung on through the general election. Then, not even President Obama’s selection of Clinton II as his Secretary of State mollified them. On blogs like No Quarter, a nut-bunker maintained by former CIA spook and fervent Islamophobe Larry Johnson, and The Confluence and Alegre’s Corner, a couple of shriek-shacks knocked together by refugees from Daily Kos, the PUMAs practiced a sort of political schizophrenia: damning or ignoring everything that could be said to come from Obama, while gushing over anything that could plausibly be linked to Clinton II. And they’re still at it.

There were also always closeted PUMAs in more high-profile positions, of course. These, however, were, from the convention on, generally well-behaved. Until this week. Now, for some reason, they’ve decided to commence the handwringing: the Queen is being Ignored.

The campaign began with gossip maven and journalistic non-entity Tina Brown’s piece on The Daily Beast, in which she decreed that “it’s time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa.”

Simply dismissing the fact that the woman is suffering from an extremely painful broken elbow, Brown whined that Clinton II hadn’t last week been shoved onto a plane and flown to Moscow. That it might not have overly impressed either the Russians, or the world watching via TV, for Clinton II, supported by massive doses of narcotic painkillers, to stagger, mumble, and drool through the proceedings—this doesn’t seem to have occurred to Brown.

No, what occurred to Brown, a PUMA of the first water, is that refusing to drag to Russia, Italy, and Ghana a crippled and doped-up Secretary of State, is all part of a nasty Obama plot.

It becomes clearer by the day how brilliantly Obama checkmated both Clintons by putting Hillary in the topmost Cabinet job. Secretary Clinton can’t be seen to differ from the president without sabotaging her own power. And ex-President Clinton has been uncharacteristically disciplined about not threatening the careful political equilibrium his wife is trying to maintain.

Brown complains that Clinton II was not permitted to pick her own deputy secretary, that the post went to “an Obama guy” instead. Well fuck yeah, it did. Obama—unlike Brown, apparently—has read a book or two on previous administrations. And thus knows that a wise president will place a loyalist close to any powerful once-and-future political rival occupying a top policy-making position. Lest some morning in opening his Washington Post knives catapult into his chest.

That PUMA whiners are wearing out Brown’s earholes with malicious Clintonian mischief-making is evident in excerpts such as this:

Even when there’s legitimate credit to be had, she remains invisible. Contrary to administration spin that Joe Biden played a critical role in the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, the vice president stayed opposed to Obama’s strategy. It was Hillary, sources tell me, whom the president relied on throughout the deliberations with principal national-security advisers to support and successfully argue his point of view. The need to paper over the difference between Obama and the vice president meant Hillary’s role went unacknowledged.

The Brown PUMA makes no secret of whom she wishes were president:

She has always cared more about the substance of work than its status trappings. Besides, the president and she agree on most of the big issues (though she thought he took the neutrality of his statements in the Iran uprising too far too long).

Brown concludes with a little threat:

You could say that Obama is lucky to have such a great foreign-policy wife. Those who voted for Hillary wonder how long she’ll be content with an office wifehood of the Saudi variety.

Well, hell, she can quit anytime. Easy enough to manufacture an excuse. Maybe Clinton I can have an “illness.” Nobody asked her to put on any burqa. She walked into that office with her eyes wide shut.

So today the PUMAs seized control of the Los Angeles Times, for a piece titled “Hillary’s Star Power Overshadowed, Analysts Say.”

Problem is, there are no “analysts” quoted in the piece. Just a lot of mushy references to a vague and nebulous “they.” This is no doubt due to the fact that the Times knows the journalistic community would laugh in its face if it were to refer openly to Tina Brown and her ilk as “analysts.”

The only person quoted by name in the story is the one who tells the blunt truth.

“It’s fair to say that in the first six months it’s been a very Obama-centric policy,” said David J. Rothkopf, a foreign policy specialist and author, and a former Clinton administration official. “Obama has brought a huge break with Bush and Cheney—he is the foreign policy.”

The poor PUMAs envisioned that, as Secretary of State, Clinton II would serve as a sort of co-president. This was even more or less openly expressed by Clinton dead-enders in the earliest months; even on some of the non-delusional lefty political blogs, it was not uncommon to find stories headlined “Hillary and Obama Do This Or That,” or even “Hillary Does This.”

But anybody who paid the least bit of considered attention to Barack Obama during his campaign knew that he was not about to “co-president” with anyone. And particularly not with a woman who, in her campaign against him, proved—as Chinatown‘s Noah Cross put it, when asked how it came to be that he had sired a child on his own daughter—”capable of anything.”

Obama is her boss. She is his employee. The policy is his. She lost.

Whatever is going on among Obama’s foreign-policy people seems to be working out just fine, my view. The economy may be coughing up blood, and much of Obama’s domestic agenda may be frustrated by a passel of dimwitted Congressional Claghorns, but across the globe—other than in his nascent LBJ impression in Afghanistan—Obama is sailing smooth. If what it takes to stay that course is Clinton II dolled up in a burqa: so let it be done. If she’s not actually organizing this press assault on her president, she needs to bark into some phones and get these PUMAs to button their lips. Else she engineer her own exit, and disappear into the dustbin of history.

PUMAs. They give me a pain. So I guess I won’t resist posting here the funniest, and one of the nastiest, viral videos of Campaign 2008—James Adomian’s Hillary’s Downfall. Known in my crew as The Voters Have Stolen My Nomination.

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