The Secret Of Political Success
February 22, 2008, 05:47 PM
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The more we find out about Presidential candidates, the more it becomes clear that the secret to the success they've enjoyed so far in their careers is that in elections, somebody always has to win. This isn't like climbing Mt. Everest, where you either do it or you don't. Politics is graded on the curve, and the competition is only other politicians.

For example, for years we've been assured by the press that while Hillary Clinton may not be inspiring, as a manager she is Dwight Eisenhower, Jack Welch, and Stalin rolled into one. And yet, her 2008 campaign has been inept, with it becoming more obvious daily that she didn't have her staff prepare a realistic, detailed plan for what would need to be done in the later primaries if, perchance, she didn't knock out the competition on Super Tuesday, February 5.

Of the 16 years I've known about the existence of Hillary Clinton, I've spent the last 14 trying to ignore her, because she's a boring person. Has anyone ever heard her say anything interesting?

The more you look into her, the more the myth of her brilliance evaporates. For example, where does the famous description of her as "the smartest woman I've ever encountered" come from? Larry Summers? Lee Kuan Yew? Seymour Cray? Nah, it's a quote from Bill Clinton's mom, Virginia.

I'm far behind the curve on this, but I didn't know until now that, after graduating from Yale Law School, she failed the Washington D.C. bar exam. She wrote in her autobiography:

"I had taken both the Arkansas and Washington, D.C., bar exams during the summer, but my heart was pulling me towards Arkansas. When I learned that I had passed in Arkansas but failed in D.C., I thought maybe my test scores were telling me something. I spent a lot of my salary on my telephone bills and was so happy when Bill came to see me over Thanksgiving. We spent our time exploring Boston and talking about our future."

Lots of people fail the bar exam, but Washington D.C.'s isn't particularly hard, at least not compared to California's (which the former dean of the Stanford Law School, Kathleen Sullivan, recently flunked). In July 2007, 75.5% of first time test takers passed the D.C. bar exam. The overall pass rate in her year was apparently 67%, so the pass rate for first-time takers (which is usually higher) was probably about the same. And that would put her in the bottom quarter. (Arkansas' test, which she passed, appears to be pretty easy.)

Failing the bar exam isn't so bad, except that the media has never explained why she should be President other than that she's so smart. But if she's not so smart, then her main claim to being President is the nationally embarrassing one that nobody is supposed to talk about: that she was married to the last President, that she's Imelda Marcos in sensible shoes.