Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy

Never has a blog title spoken quicker to the absolute truth than "Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy" ...


Mr. and Mrs. Edwards / Lincoln Aftermath / IC & Me / Et Cetera

It’s terrible news about Elizabeth Edwards and her latest battle against cancer.

Wishing Mrs. Edwards the best (which, of course, I do) doesn’t mean we cannot – and should not – firmly yet politely say that John Edwards is not much of a man for remaining in the race for President.

Never mind how Mrs. Edwards feels now. She is facing chemotherapy for the remainder of her life, as well as medications that will weaken her to some unknown degree; as a father of young children, Candidate Edwards’ first obligation is to his family, and I find it a special vulgarity that Edwards thinks more of continuing a political race he cannot win than performing his rightful duties as a husband and father. And that’s all.

* * *

Spent this week ridding myself of all Lincoln related research material. Working under the “out of sight = out of mind” paradigm, the Lincoln’s Tomb page at BrianWise.com was removed Monday morning, and every piece of research gathered in the previous 14 months was either deleted, copied to a CD-RW, or moved to the study at the back of the house, in a box at the bottom of the archive. Out of sight, out of mind.

What began as a begrudging acceptance of the project’s end flowered into a full-blown depression by Tuesday – wish I could tell you I’ve rebounded. A few people wrote or called to express their low-grade condolences; Jeff Curran, former co-host of the TGO Radio, left a message but I’ve yet to call him back. (Now he knows what it’s like. If only he would start a radio show and ask me to co-host so that I could walk off the thing, twice, with no warning …)

Leonard Steinhorn, of American University, who hasn’t spoken to me for months (for reasons I cannot quite identify), answered my email with what amounted to a nice “atta boy.” It was Steinhorn who thought enough of my idea to help me write a very early short treatment, and then forward it to his literary agent, which is as extraordinary an act as I’ve known throughout my writing career. His agent basically dismissed it (“Tell your friend we’ll get hold of him” or the like; a classic kissoff), and even though he’s not speaking to me, I’ll never forget that gesture.

Shane St. Hollister – editor of The Greatest Trust and The 5 Minutes of Silence, and proofreader of The Unabrian Manifesto – answered the announcement by hoping the death of Lincoln’s Tomb “doesn’t deter you from writing, even if you take a sabbatical before you resume.” He knows me well enough to know my first reaction to large setbacks is to retreat, and this time around has been no exception. The only difference this time is that my slate is finally clear; now there is absolutely nothing holding me to hopes of a career that just will not materialize.

Just Wednesday it occurred to me that for someone who’s such a failure, I’m very stable. Most aspects of life with my son and his mother are rolling along nicely (the one bump being his grades, which showed signs of improvement with the last progress report). I’ve worked in the same office for nearly eight years and lived in the same home for five; I owe no large debt to any one person or institution; my car is paid for; my utilities are covered; my love life – when it interests me enough to pursue one – goes along smoothly. Hell, even my cats are healthy and well fed. I’m broke as hell, but in the areas that matter, I’m unbelievably stable.

But my life is half over. The realization that I have abandoned important things and spent so many years in pursuit of a career that will, it seems clear now, never materialize has hit me very, very hard. Being this unsure of what will come next feels a lot like standing in a field in the middle of nowhere – there’s just nothing, for as far as the eye can see. The lack of purpose sits in my chest.

Never mind whether I have the talent to continue. Talent isn’t a concern. When I’m “on,” I honestly believe there isn’t a better non-syndicated columnist anywhere. The concern is that I will teeter into my forties struggling to hold onto a dream that really doesn’t interest me all that much anymore, and that cannot exist, but that I feel compelled to continue pursuing because all I’ve ever been able to do is write.

* * *

My initial “distribution deal” with the website IntellectualConservative.com (to post all eight of the new columns so that I could better judge public reaction to them) fell apart almost immediately. When I first called Rachel Alexander – she owns IC and I’ve known her personally for many years now – my aim was simply to ask her advice: If eight new “In Dissent” columns were written, where would she suggest I put them to best gauge reaction? She readily volunteered IC, an offer I found generous and accepted.

Within three days of my submitting the first column, 14 February’s “Anna Nicole Smith: Still Dead (And Other Observations),” I received an email from Rachel stating there were two objections to the column. These were not her protests, but instead those of her two brothers, to whom she inexplicably entrusted IC’s day-to-day operations some time ago. “I know you would probably be upset if I changed those two lines,” she wrote, “so I'm asking you if it's ok.” She was right, bless her heart.

Here are the lines in question, and the stated objections:

First Line: “Whilst swinging around a pole, she [Smith] managed to restore some long lost feeling to the groin of a dilapidated old billionaire, and the next thing you know she’s in line for an inheritance.”

Objection: The word “groin.”

Reaction: Nearing the end of my original run as lead columnist at IC, I wrote a column in which I said that terrorists understand only two things: Being blown to bits and dogs snarling at their crotches (e.g., in the Abu Ghraib photos). IC refused to publish the column after I refused to change the word “crotch.” That was an editorial decision Rachel made herself. In a conversation between the two of us in the aftermath, she suggested I would have done better to use “groin.”

Now here was an instance where “groin” was the better fit – having to do with the flow and tone of the work; i.e., more playful than severe – and it was found objectionable. I argued forcefully, then and now, that if IC feels so compelled to edit its writers (a practice I find objectionable for a wide variety of reasons), it must adopt and maintain an editing standard, and not make it up on the fly.

Second Line: “Yeah, well, if I were married to [Zsa Zsa] Gabor, I’d be looking for young mistresses, too.”

Objection: Editors said that line “will haunt us later as a sexist remark about women.”

Reaction: In the same column, I referred to Bobby Trendy as a “poofy, spectacularly gay (and unintentionally hilarious) interior decorator,” with no nail biting on IC’s part about offending gays in the future.

In the same piece I wrote that media reacted to Smith’s death as though “a former president was found hanged in a bathhouse,” again with no concern.

Furthermore, “Never underestimate the sheer will of a stuffy older child unwilling to allow his old man the luxury of fondling a much younger wife in his final years” passed muster without a sniff.

You get the point. It’s difficult to sufficiently explain in a small space what has gone wrong at Intellectual Conservative since I left in August 2004. I can tell you it was starting to go bad, very bad, when I left; I can tell you that hyper-sensitive over-editing is why I resigned the best gig of my life; and I can tell you the site has spiraled out of control since she surrendered control to her brothers, neither of whom could write or edit their ways out of a bag of wet hair. Beyond that, I’m at a loss.

In an email dated 17 February, Rachel complained about the changes her brothers have made – “Trust me, this is not out of the ordinary these days, my brother edits all of our writers considerably. He's pretty much taken over the site btw, if you'll notice, he got rid of all my goofy pictures on the sides (even took away my blogs [sic] posts on the articles pages)” – but appears disinterested in correcting the mistakes she’s made and salvaging what was once a fine website.

At first I wrote in reply only, “Do not post that column.”

Later that night (17 February), I responded at greater length (only part of which is posted here, because even though I make a point of conducting my “writing career” as transparently as possible, a lot of the email addresses her personally, and none of that stuff is any of your fucking business):

“When logic dictated I sacrifice my career and leave IC, it broke my heart. Literally. It felt like I was turning my back on my sister. But you had turned to a drastic, overly moralistic over-editing, the kind that reached too far beyond common sense, the kind that refused to let a spade be called a spade when it came to thinking about and dealing with the dirt worshipers, and in the end it seemed better to put the gun to my writing career's head [and I sure as fuck did that] than to allow it to be overseen by the rough intellectual equivalent of the PMRC. I thought, ‘Rachel has clearly turned her back on what's best for the website’…. I care for you. But I cannot let you break my heart again. When you fell like taking your website back, let me know. Until then I must stand … with my back turned to you.”

So that’s what happened with distribution. If I had the money, I would buy that website and give it the dignified end it deserves, as opposed to letting two ignoramuses run the thing into the ground. A Viking funeral would be better than seeing it mismanaged to death.

I miss Rachel. Maybe I should call her and tell her so. But she doesn’t care, and other than the two emails I’ve sent her in the last five weeks, which she hasn’t answered, I consider her a loss. Which is terrible, because I genuinely care for her a great deal.

* * *

The question is, Have we now finally arrived at The End of Things? Meaning, is it finally time to start concerning myself with adult things and leave the rest behind? No one else I know has attained my age and continued to hold on to the now shattered notions of their (very) early twenties. When I announced last May that I was “leaving public life,” what I meant was that retirement from writing (excepting the Lincoln book, an idea too good to shelve) seemed the best, most logical course.

Then I pounded out that Ann Coulter essay last June, and the next thing you know, Bernard Goldberg sends an email to say I’d written a “smart piece,” and a few weeks later he’s complimenting The Unabrian Manifesto, even going so far as to write a blurb for it (which is plastered all over BrianWise.com). Add to that the fact Lincoln’s Tomb, even in the research phase, was getting just a little buzz behind it, and things looked all right.

Thomas Craughwell’s wonderful book Stealing Lincoln’s Body rendered my book unnecessary, and IC’s rejecting the “In Dissent” column brings me to a point where literally nothing substantive is happening. A natural break.


The Undusputed End of Higher Education

WWE® RAW® Announcer Jim Ross™ Kicks Off Pro Wrestling Lecture Series At MIT

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 15, 2007 –"The Voice of Monday Night RAW" Jim Ross will kick off a series of class presentations and lectures involving WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment] personalities to be held at MIT this semester as part of a Comparative Media Studies course focused on pro wrestling in America.

"Good Ol' J.R." Jim Ross will be speaking to students on Wednesday, March 21, and Thursday, March 22, to share his thoughts on the growth of pro wrestling into a global phenomenon through his experience as one of the greatest wrestling announcers ever in the business, as well as his role in handling talent relations and business development for World Wrestling Entertainment® (WWE). Ross will share experiences from his many years in the television industry, as the wrestling industry has moved from TV syndication to cable to pay-per-view to prime time broadcast television, and now to digital media, including DVD, video on demand, the web and mobile phones.

His appearance will culminate in a lecture to students and the public in Room 4-370 at 5 p.m. on March 22 entitled, "This One's Gonna Be a Slobberknocker: A Q&A with WWE's "Good Ol' J.R." Jim Ross," moderated by Sam Ford, the class instructor.

In addition to being the voice of WWE's "Monday Night RAW" on the USA Network and the former voice of Turner Broadcasting's World Championship Wrestling™, Jim Ross has served as Executive Vice President of Broadcasting for WCW® and as both Vice President of Talent Relations and Executive Vice President of Business Strategies for WWE. He is also a weekly college football columnist and runs his own blog and online Bar-B-Q store at http://www.jrsbarbq.com/

Also scheduled to appear as part of the series is former WWE Champion and New York Times best-selling author Mick Foley™. He will lecture for two classes in April and offer a lecture to students and the public in room 54-100 on 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 entitled, "The Real World's Faker than Wrestling: Former WWE Champion and Best-Selling Author Mick Foley."

Foley, one of the top wrestling performers of the past decade, will talk about his own years as an entertainer and how he transitioned from a world of athletic storytelling into a world of storytelling with the written word, as he is a multiple-time bestselling author who has written three memoirs, two novels, and a variety of children's books. Foley will discuss his experience with telling stories in a variety of written and performance genres, and how he has managed to bridge across multiple genres and entertainment forms. He will also talk about his management of multiple personas within the pro wrestling world, the range of characters he portrayed that have often been considered the many faces of Foley.

Foley has been a professional wrestler since the mid-1980s and was a headlining star for World Wrestling Entertainment under the personas of Mankind, Cactus Jack, and Dude Love, all of whom were facets of the overall character, Mick Foley. He continues to wrestle and portray his character on occasion for the WWE and has just finished his third memoir, Hardcore Diaries, following the best-selling Have a Nice Day!: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks and Foley is Good...and the Real World is Faker than Wrestling. [The latter two books are owned by this poster.]

For more on the MIT CMS colloquia series, look here:http://cms.mit.edu/events/colloquiaforums.php

WWE Superstar and Harvard Alumni Chris Nowinski™ will be speaking to MIT students on Wednesday May 9. In class, Nowinski will be talking the crossover between wrestling and academics, and will focus on his experiences in and out of the WWE ring. Nowinksi recently made headlines with his book, Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis from the NFL to Youth Leagues. The book has fostered a close look at how the NFL and youth football leagues handle the consequences of multiple concussions and has been the catalyst for investigative coverage on the issue in national publications such as the New York Times, ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

Ford's class, entitled Topics in Comparative Media, focuses on the history of American professional wrestling and its place in popular culture. Ford will graduate in June with a Master's degree from the Comparative Media Studies department. While at MIT, he has worked as a media analyst for the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium, located at http://www.convergencecutlure.org.

The students in the class participate in a public class blog, which can be found at http://mitcmsprowrestling.blogspot.com./ More information on the Comparative Media Studies program can be found at http://cms.mit.edu.

For more information on these events, contact the MIT Comparative Media Studies program at cms@mit.edu


"Lincoln's Tomb" - R.I.P.

Monday, 19 March; 424am.

Cindy VanHorn, Registrar and Library Assistant at the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was the first to alert me to an article in the Des Moines Register regarding Stealing Lincoln’s Body by Thomas J. Craughwell (Belknap Press of Harvard Press, 250 pages, $24.95).

According to the article, “[Craughwell’s] story begins in Washington, D.C., at the president's deathbed on April 15, 1865, and ends with Lincoln's final burial on Sept. 26, 1901, in a steel cage under a concrete bunker in Springfield, Ill.

“By the end, the martyred president had been laid to rest a half-dozen times. Twice, in 1887 and 1901, the inner lead lining of Lincoln's casket was peeled back for identification purposes by members of a secret society that was created to guard Lincoln's body following after the failed grave robbery.”

As my book sounded suspiciously like Craughwell’s, it made sense to temporarily suspend substantive research until I had a better idea what I was up against. Clearly, if Craughwell’s book only glanced over the topics I hoped to cover in Lincoln’s Tomb, then continuing with my own research made sense. If not, not.

Despite several websites reporting the book wouldn't be released until the first of April, I spied a copy at Barnes and Noble on Sunday night, 18 March; began reading about 9pm and, with a few starts and stops, finished about 330am Monday.

First of all, let me say that I cannot recommend Stealing Lincoln’s Body highly enough. As I explained in an email to Cindy VanHorn this morning, the book is well researched, well written, thoughtful, and thorough; I would recommend it to anyone and hope that a large number of people within the reach of these words will buy a copy. I have no substantive complaint with the thing.

But it also renders my book wholly useless, so all work on Lincoln’s Tomb will conclude today, Monday, 19 March.


"On Taking Offense"

14 March 2007
777 words

For those who missed Ann Coulter’s gay joke at John Edwards’ expense (“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot.’”), you should know that contrary to most reports, the assembled audience did not dissolve into mammoth laughter and applause – but there was enough to suggest the reaction Coulter got wasn’t simple politeness.

Jokes fail for a variety of reasons (other than not being funny). In this case, I’m not sure enough people understood Coulter’s backhanded reference to Isaiah Washington, a prime time quality actor (that is no compliment) who stars in a dry hump of a show called Grey’s Anatomy, and who recently checked himself into rehab after calling a fellow cast member “faggot.” (Rehab for what, we’ll never know. Better he spend the money on acting lessons.) But for the most part, “Edwards is gay” just doesn’t make sense, and no sober audience should rescue any speaker from a premise that flawed.

Not enough to let Coulter flounder on stage, Edwards responded by prattling on about the politics of personal destruction (or the Two Americas, or something – does anyone pay attention to his speeches anymore?) as hordes of self-hating flapping heads ran to the nearest camera to exorcise themselves of the heartfelt belief that making gay jokes is a horrible, horrible thing, on par with genocide and cancer and dead kittens, et cetera.

Meanwhile, how many of those gravely offended by Coulter’s insult have given a second (or first) thought to the two virulently anti-Catholic bloggers Candidate Edwards hired to assist on the Internet side of his campaign (such as it is)? Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan both resigned after being exposed and derided by the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Bill Donohue; Marcotte for writing things like, “What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?” and McEwan for things like, “[N]ow we turn our backs on the advancements that will define the twenty-first century … turning instead to the imaginary tradition of a governing Judeo-Christian ethic, forged only in the small minds of religious zealots, rather than actual history.” Gee whiz.

“Resigned” ought not be confused with “fired.” “Fired” would have suggested Edwards is capable of taking a moral stand not first sanctioned by MoveOn.org (which really would have been something). While claiming to be “personally offended” by such remarks, Edwards was willing to keep Marcotte and McEwan on board in the interest of giving folks “a fair shake,” never mind how quickly they’d have been bounced had they a history of dropping “faggot” into their (poorly written) blog posts.

To the trained observer, the fact Edwards didn’t see fit to turn the other cheek to Coulter, but did to his staff, translates into an interesting peculiarity: For John Edwards, gays matter more than Catholics. Which is fine if your job is to troll about the Internet for a living, something else altogether if you want to be President of the United States, where that sort of clear bias can be damaging. The seventeen serious Democrats still supporting Edwards should hope the former senator is as bothered by hatred of Catholics amongst his pivotal staff as he is a bad fag joke hurled at him by a distant commentator, about whom he could care less.

Now, why would a homosexual’s taking offense to a candidate’s non-action matter more than a Catholic’s taking offense? Well, Edwards has made a gamble based upon the direction of things within his party: If a liberal candidate is even rumored to be abandoning gays (e.g., by not responding forcefully enough to things like Coulter’s poorly constructed joke), he will lose virtually all of Democratism in the pink and feathery aftermath. But if the same liberal forsakes Catholics, he’ll lose only a comparatively few Democrats, which is a chance Edwards is much more willing to take.

I’ve often wondered something. Let’s say you’ve splattered a depiction of Mary with elephant dung, or dropped a crucifix into a jar of urine; in the liberal consciousness, you have (somehow) created art. Now let’s say you fling those same droppings onto an impressionist painting of Gloria Steinem, or remove the crucifix from that jar and replace it with a laminated, two-sided picture of Jack and Bobby Kennedy – then what do you have? Do the liberals who ridiculed those Jesus Christers for their full-throated opposition to Ofili’s “The Virgin Mary” or Serrano’s “Piss Christ” still have the same open mind, or have we then moved on to another plane?



Column: "Kenneth Eng is Not Smart"

Wednesday, 07 March 2007
758 words

It was one of those conversations you stumble across by happenstance but cannot turn away from; like a bad accident in the lane opposite yours, where you crane your neck to see what’s happening. Sorry to say I missed most of John Gibson’s interview with (now former) Asian Week columnist Kenneth Eng conducted Monday afternoon, but managed in my brief exposure to get the upshot: Eng hates blacks and whites, but especially blacks, has no problem saying so and in fact did, in a column titled “Why I Hate Blacks” first posted at AsianWeek.com on Friday, 23 February.

“Here is a list of reasons why we should discriminate against blacks,” Eng begins, “starting from the most obvious down to the least obvious. [Point one:] Blacks hate us [Asians]. Every Asian who has ever come across them knows that they take almost every opportunity to hurl racist remarks at us. In my experience, I would say about 90 percent of blacks I have met, regardless of age or environment, poke fun at the very sight of an Asian. Furthermore, their activity in the media proves their hatred: Rush Hour, Exit Wounds, Hot 97, etc.” (For those unaware, I’ll save you the trouble of having to find out that Hot 97 is one in a long string of awful “urban” radio stations, headquartered in New York City.)

“Their activity in the media” offhandedly suggests blacks generally have their way in the media, which will come as some surprise to the Jews who actually control the media. Just kidding. But by reading and understanding my joke, you get some idea of my initial reaction to Eng’s column: I went looking for the punchline. Surely Eng is attempting to make a point through offbeat social satire … I scanned the piece again, looking for a hint of sarcasm, or irony, or wit; then again, and again. Instead what I found was:

“Contrary to media depictions, I would argue that blacks are weak-willed. They are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years. It’s unbelievable that it took them that long to fight back. On the other hand, we slaughtered the Russians in the Japanese-Russo war.”

A tremendous amount of weight rests in that phrase – “on the other hand.” Eng is hoping the reader will take for granted a corollary between war and slavery and not give it a second thought. Conducted between February 1904 and September 1905, the Russo-Japanese war (as it’s more commonly called) carries over slavery the unique distinction of actually being a war fought between nations, whereas slavery was a human trafficking business. Parsed correctly, no part of the thought makes even the slightest bit of sense.

Anyway, I’ll admit to being at somewhat of a loss to explain what Eng means. He is either ignorant of, or indifferent to, the long record of slave uprisings throughout American history (to say nothing of what may have occurred before the States became united), but in either case should be made aware of the violence put forth to quell said uprisings. Not knowing of Nat Turner’s Rebellion (the largest slave revolt in our history, 1831) should in no way preclude any columnist from typing “slave uprising” into a search engine and getting himself a working knowledge of the subject as a whole. Not that knowing would change his mind, but it may have kept him from writing, “It’s unbelievable that it took them that long to fight back.”

“Why I Hate Blacks” goes on as above, but becomes no more coherent. Modern Americans are tempted from the first to deconstruct Eng’s prejudice as a means of understanding him. This is one of our most irritating traits as a culture; understanding why someone is a racist isn’t nearly as important as simply knowing he is, but for some reason it will make us feel better to know what drives him, as though our knowing will somehow clear his mind of plain idiocies.

A transcript of Eng’s interview with John Gibson is posted at FoxNews.com, for both posterity’s and hilarity’s sake. Question (paraphrased): So, you’ve written that you hate blacks, whites, and Asians. Do you really hate all those people? Eng: “Well, I generally hate black and white people, but the Asian article was sarcastic. It's kind of like the sarcasm I had in my novel, in which dragons slay tons and tons of humans. But this relates to — in the sense that dragons logically follow evolution so they would be able to wield metal.”

Aha. That explains everything. Thanks, Kenneth.

Column: "Hillary Clinton, in Danger of Decline"

Wednesday, 28 February 2007
777 words

When you hear pro-Clinton Democrats wonder aloud whether Barack Obama is qualified to be president, feel free to ask exactly what Hillary Clinton has done to make her imminently more qualified than Senator Obama, or anyone else in the field. Senator Clinton has served one full term (and about two months of a second term) in the Senate but has held no other office. This means she has only four more years of on-the-job experience than Obama, unless you count the eight years she spent sticking her nose into her husband’s business.

The Constitution sets rather pedestrian limits for who can be president: If you were born here, have maintained a residence in-country for fourteen years and have aged thirty-five years, you too can add your name to the list of intellectual malcontents hoping to push the United States even closer to full blown socialism. Of course, “qualified to be president” means something extra-constitutional in the modern parlance, and differs depending on which party is eyeballing the candidates. Republicans tend to lean toward pro-life, pro-family, small government, no-new-taxes / lower tax contenders, someone of the brand who will say, “When it concerns the United States and / or its allies, we must stare down the dirt worshipers and make them blink and bend to our will, never vice versa.” Democrats … well, Democrats lean in opposite directions.

Except that in the case of Obama and Clinton, “qualified to be president” means something above and beyond even the modern parlance. Both are cookie-cutter liberals; both are old world socialists; and if left to their own devices, they will each take virtually the same stance on almost every issue facing the electorate. The fight is over the direction of the Democratic party as a whole.

For Clinton supporters, there is a “business as usual” feel to her candidacy, a sentiment predicated upon the belief that everything worked out so well for Bill Clinton (in a manner of speaking), there’s no reason not to trust the sequel. Meanwhile, those supporting Obama have developed a distinct feeling that Democratism must modernize to remain relevant; that it shouldn’t carry such a stilted, stale, inherited sense about it. This speaks to the obvious truth: Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is nothing if not an inherited movement. Never mind the Democratic nomination – how close would Mrs. Clinton be to the Senate if her husband hadn’t been president? Suppose Bill Clinton abandons the governorship and goes straight to the private sector; in that instance, Hillary Clinton has no more chance of winning the presidency in 2008 than I do.

Said another way, a lot of Democrats are tired of seeing and hearing Hillary Clinton, but too few will be upfront about saying so, in case they have to hitch their cart to her later on (i.e., if Obama fails to secure the nomination). What made David Geffen’s comments so interesting was his willingness to flatly declare his dislike for Clinton while thinking nothing of the aftermath. This is what true conviction looks like. Geffen won’t vote for a Republican, and would never counsel a fellow Democrat to do so, but through his public objection has made it plainly known that he’ll only vote for Clinton if he can hold his nose at the same time.

In the pantheon of political mistakes, overstaying your welcome is one of the most severe, as voters tend to lose patience with anyone seen lingering in the spotlight for too long. The Clinton campaign’s immediate, visceral reaction to Geffen’s interview shows not only that she’s scared of Obama’s growing popularity, especially among blacks, but also that she is keenly aware this is her one real shot at the presidency. Oh, she can run again as many times as she’d like, but you can count the number of failed, major party re-nominees on one hand. She knows her time is short.

Question: Is Hillary Clinton in danger of slipping badly this far removed from the nation’s first primary? Well, there is only so much slippage a tightly controlled candidate can manage without first killing a puppy on stage, but yes, she is in danger. Clinton whips Obama in name recognition and nothing else; he is smoother, more honest, and more likeable than Clinton. Unless Obama himself takes to puppy slaughter, he will spend the spring and summer familiarizing himself with as many Democrats and fence sitters as possible. He may not surpass Clinton in the polls, but Obama will create greater distance between himself and third place, which will leave the Clinton campaign puzzled as primaries draws closer. Trust me when I tell you: Legitimate competition has no place in Clinton campaign strategy.