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Exit Clinton. / But what a show next / The Times

May 9, 2008

Exit Clinton. But what a show next!

The 2008 presidental contest will be historic for numerous and fascinating reasons

If this long US Democratic primary campaign were opera we’d be deep into the final act by now. The doomed soprano would be working her way up the emotional rungs of her last aria. A few feet across the stage would lie the knife fated to deliver her from her plight. The tragic denouement for the fallen heroine is as predictable as it is moving.

Of course, this is the indefatigable Clintons we’re talking about, who have never been known to follow anyone else’s libretto, so you can’t quite be sure how precisely the story will end.

If Hillary Clinton were Madame Butterfly, she’d be out there till the last, quibbling that she could still persuade enough super-delegates that Pinkerton really would be coming back. In the Clinton version of I Pagliacci, Canio’s conclusive declaration that “La commedia è finita” would be greeted with a shrill, defiant response from somewhere in the gods: “No it’s not. Not until we’ve counted the delegates from Michigan and Florida!”

And yet even the Clintons must know now, whatever they say in public, that the drama is done. Barack Obama, who was only just out of law school when their presidential dynasty began 16 years ago, has brought it crashing to a premature end.

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