All the speculation on Rice is just weird. Is there some natural constituency for her that I'm unaware of? Even assuming support from the Black community, it's not like African-Americans swarm Republican primaries (nor find themselves particularly influential in Iowa or New Hampshire) or Dobson's group is going to warm to a "mildly pro-choice" candidate. I know the speculation is fun and all, but the woman has never campaigned in her life. She's never been elected to public office. She's never dealt with domestic issues. She seems like a perfectly competent Secretary of State, and God knows I'm glad that she's injected some sanity into the Administration's foreign policy, but it's a smidge irritating to watch her get hyped up for being a BLACK person who's WOMAN and a REPUBLICAN, as if the reason that's amazing isn't that Republicans have historically discriminated against blacks and fought the advances of feminism. There's no doubt that it'd be a real step forward for the GOP if they could nominate somebody from so many demographic grews they've spent years screwing, but all the excitement shouldn't overlook the fact that the reason they have trouble with those groups is not some sort of random chance, but a real antipathy between their base and the interests of women and minorities. Thus, for a woman to make it through the GOP primaries she'd have to give up on choice, equal pay, eliminating gender bias in the workplace, universal child care, pre-natal care, etc. And for an African-American to survive, s/he'd have to repudiate support for affirmative action, not to mention sell out on all sorts of issues critical to urban communities, like welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, etc.. In fact, to win, such a candidate would probably have to take a harder line against those issues than white male Republicans do. I somehow can't see an utterly untested candidate making it through that balancing act alive.

Meanwhile, Hillary's image makeover continues unabated. She's creating pre-campaign buzz as the culturally astute frontrunner continually confounding the stereotype conservatives have of her. It's kind of surreal to watch the media swallow the new Clinton, already writing the stories about how Republicans love her and all the CW about her polarization (that they created) is just so much empty hype, but it's hardly unpleasant to watch a Democrat finally figure out how to play the press. In any case, it's impressive to watch her neutralize all these criticisms before the campaign begins. She's created a preexisting storyline, ready to kick into gear as soon as Iowa opens up to contenders. "The formerly controversial First Lady has surprised observers with her moderation and willingness to buck the traditional cultural positions assumed of liberals. From the V-Chip to abortion, she's travelled the country speaking out against liberal overreach and shocking former enemies who considered her something of a radical..."

No storyline, no matter how well-crafted, will ever appease the Hillary-haters. But read this fresh op-ed and try to decide whether such folks will be help or hindrance to her campaign. Stuff this nutty and intemperate may well prove valuable in making the right look crazy in comparison with this candidate constantly being praised for her cultural moderation and ability to prove her critics wrong.