BEING THERE: Hillary, Now More Than Ever


BY AMY Z. QUINN For the record: At no time during Tuesday night’s Liberty Medal festivities did Hillary Clinton announce, or even mention, running for or even wanting to be president.

Actually, there was no need, since longtime pals and political boosters Mayor Michael Nutter and Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania and honorary rich white dude, did plenty of that for her. Even Jeb Bush, son of current Bill Clinton BFF George H.W. Bush, said he figured Hillary was headed for Des Moines next week.

For her part, Clinton was doing that “I’m just going to wear this here pantsuit and smile knowingly-yet-serenely” thing she does so well. The whole event struck my pal Joel Mathis, over at the Philly Post, as Hillary’s “gold watch moment” — a prelude to full retirement rather than a return to full-time politics.

No, they didn’t give us a copy of her prepared remarks, though I suspect that has to do with timing: The Liberty Medal festivities wrapped up an hour before President Obama made his Syria remarks. Given her role as “shadow Secretary of State,” as Fox’s latest recruit Howard Kurtz deduced from learning she’d met with Obama to discuss Syria, you can bet there was some last-minute coordinating of speeches to make sure the right notes were hit.

I think she will run, but you have to rewind a bit to understand why. Remember the last time Hillary ran for president? When we all gathered at the Constitution Center in 2008 for that Democratic primary debate, watched Clinton smile knowingly-yet-serenely, and listened to her calmly smoke Barack Obama like a Choom Gang spliff?

And then, months later, when Obama seemed to have the nomination mathematically sewn up, and people like Keith Olbermann were calling Clinton a traitor to the Democratic party for not dutifully bowing out to make room for Black Jesus? Remember that?

Well, I do.

What it showed me about Hillary Clinton is that she is patient enough to let the process work and that she operates on no one’s timetable but her own. She touched on that a bit in her remarks, going heavy on Constitutional process and the relationship between the President and Congress — an obvious nod to the current Syria political clusterfuck but also to her time in the Senate.

Rather than a swan song, I think what we witnessed at the Constitution Center Tuesday night was a public notice: She’s here, and right now she IS the Democratic field. Joe Biden is, well, Joe Biden. The party can’t bring itself to agree on a position on what to do when babies are being gassed in the street, much less decide who to run for president.

In the meantime, let us tell you about the Many Facets of Hillary, from Young Republican Goldwater Girl to enlightened Wellesley feminist to hyper-achieving young lawyer to Secretary of State who worked for the release of journalist Roxana Saberi from detention in Iran out of motherly concern.

Every note of a political campaign pitch was hit: Working class roots, political awakening, public service, worker for the rights of women and children, champion of bipartisanship, squishy Mom type. If anything, this was Hillary Clinton asking the Democratic party to give her one good reason not to run.

Because right now, there isn’t one.