But I never thought she'd stumble, lose focus, and trip the way she did during last night's Democratic debate.
It was like watching the Great Oz get exposed as the small little person he was.
Hillary Clinton blew it. She relied on her usual non-answers, but this time her opponents weren't having it. Senator Barack Obama challenged her to actually define her current (and past) positions on Iraq. Former Senator John Edwards accused her multiple times of "double speak."
At one point, she was asked about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's insane proposal to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. She gave a long, twisted defense of the policy.
Then Senator Chris Dodd came out with guns blazing against it (Dodd '08!! Just kidding!). This got Clinton being for it before she was against it: "I did not say it should be done."
Say what, girlfriend?! That's EXACTLY what you said.
"You know, Tim," she said to Russert. "This is where everyone plays gotcha."
No, Senator. This is where your own pampered arrogance has finally caught up with you. You NEVER answer questions---never mind tough ones----so you are surprised when you can't duck them. Especially on camera. And you have ALWAYS gotten away with dodging and bobbing and weaving and hemming and hawing, because everyone---from your opponents to the press---has allowed you to get away with it. Defer to Queen Bee. And they all did.
Until last night.
Remember that old deodorant commercial that said, "Never let them see you sweat?" Last night, Hillary Clinton showed a lot of sweat. She cut herself, and now there's blood in the water for the sharp-toothed and opportunistic piranhas. Her opponents will be far more aggressive now that they've seen her falter. That vulnerability will be opened further by adventurous members of the press.
Because she stumbled so badly, she's begun to whine that this was no way to treat a lady. The DrudgeReport is reporting that the Clinton Ladies' Intervention Team is complaining that Russert was "unfair," "belligerent," and "broke debate rules."
This crybaby routine worked when she ran for the Senate. No more. Not in the Big Leagues, Senator. If you can't handle the guy from "Meet the Press," can we really expect you to handle the guy in Tehran building nukes?
Don't try to pull this "I'm just a delicate flower" act again. Either you're a fragile woman who needs special courtesies, or you're tough-as-nails and ready to be commander in chief. Can't be both.
Your old mask has fallen off, Senator. Which new one will it be?