Dowd: Clinton Camp Claims Obama Went Lazio on Hillary

As its Hollywood-borrowed headline There Will Be Blood suggests, the gist of Maureen Dowd's column today is that appearances of that icky post-debate clinch notwithstanding, there is no love lost between Hillary and Obama. The junior senator from Illinois won't agree to run as Hillary's vice-presidential candidate. Or as Maureen metaphorically puts it:

Why would Obama want to follow in the frustrated footsteps of Al Gore . . . being third banana to Billary?

Along the way, Dowd appears to break some news of a confrontation between the two that one camp views as having been physical . . .

It's been widely reported that Obama and Hillary had an extended conversation on the tarmac on December 13, 2007, in the wake of Clinton supporter Billy Shaheen's invocation of Obama's youthful drug use. But Dowd, relying on witnesses from the Obama camp, suggests that things got much more heated than previously noted, the Clinton camp feeling that Obama had violated her airspace, so to speak, and he coming away more aware of her vulnerabilities.

Excerpts [emphasis added]:

Then, according to witnesses from the Obama camp, Hillary got very agitated and was “flapping her arms.” All her simmering grievances spilled out during the 10-minute talk. She was still furious about David Geffen’s searing interview with me the previous February, charging that she and Bill lie with such ease “it’s troubling.” While Geffen’s fund-raiser for Obama spurred the column, Obama knew nothing about the interview until it appeared. Hillary was also angry that Obama had called her “disingenuous,” telling Newsweek that it was a contradiction for her to claim that her tenure as first lady gave her more experience but then refuse to release her first lady papers from Bill’s library, saying she had no control over them.

At some point, an Obama intimate recalled, he “gently put his hand on her arm to chill her out.” The tall senator often leans down to put a friendly hand on the shoulder of his fellow senators — male and female — on the Senate floor, and they seem charmed by the gesture.

But Senator Clinton and her circle were not. They had been surprised and troubled by what they saw as his attempt to grab her arm and hold her in place while they talked, an unpleasant flashback to Rick Lazio getting in her space. As Queen Bee of the Clinton hive, Hillary has created a regal force field that can be breached only with permission, so something that wasn’t even a jostle was perceived as a joust.

The encounter seemed to have steeled them both. Hillary, to knock back the upstart who had unexpectedly gotten in her way, and Obama, who came away feeling that, for all of Hillary’s outer strength, she was afraid of him in some ways, and for all of her supposed poise, she had a more spiky temperament than he had realized.

Dowd concludes that their post-debate clinch should have earned Oscars for both candidates. And since we're going Hollywood this morning: if there will be blood between the Democrats, when it comes to the Republican field many conservatives would say this is . . . no country for old men.

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