Cracking the Hillary Code

With less than a week to go before it opens, the buzz surrounding the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code is reaching a crescendo. It's everywhere -- billboards, magazine covers, TV commercials, the sides of buses. Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou racing around Europe trying to uncover the stunning secrets of the Holy Grail, and of how the patriarchy of the church systematically removed the Sacred Feminine from Christianity. The tag line: "Seek the Truth."

Meanwhile, on the political front, I've been trying to crack The Hillary Code.

Unlocking the latest Clinton cryptex, we find not a papyrus map but other kinds of symbolic clues: Making headlines with her warm assessment of Bush. Partying with a Who's Who of the GOP power elite, including Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Tom DeLay, and Bill Frist. Planning a fundraiser to be hosted by -- wait for it -- Rupert Murdoch. It doesn't take a dashing Harvard symbologist and a sexy French cryptographer to figure this one out. Hillary Clinton is determined to single-handedly remove every last vestige of authenticity from American politics.

She's being aided by the Knights Templar over at the DLC. And, of course, the Holy Father of triangulation himself, William Jefferson Clinton -- the self-styled Pope of the Global Village (or at least the Global Initiative).

At this point, she doesn't have a self-flagellating albino monk tracking her, but John McCain's own authenticity is getting paler by the minute, with Jerry Falwell's Liberty U. standing in for the ultra- devout Opus Dei.

We have reached a moment when the disastrous policies of the Bush administration have left GOP support in a free-fall, with more Americans saying Democrats would do a better job dealing with Iraq, gasoline prices, immigration, taxes, prescription drug prices and civil liberties. They even believe, by a double digit margin, that Democrats come closer to sharing their moral values. Yet at this most propitious political moment, the presumptive favorite to lead the Democrats is doing everything in her power to distance herself from what should be the central holy tenet of the Democratic Party: opposition to the war in Iraq.

It's not just the canoodling with the right. It's the relentless, unabashed pandering in an effort to rebrand herself as a red state-friendly centrist.

The sacred scrolls of her inauthenticity are legend and legion: the co-sponsorship of anti-flag burning legislation, her call for "common ground" on abortion, her willingness to go along with Bush's missile defense fantasies, her "Sistah Souljah Moment" attack on video games (perhaps she should have been more worried about the spy satellite games the NSA was apparently playing), and her endless photo-op-ready partnerships with Newt Gingrich, Bill Frist, Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum. And, worst of all, her steadfast -- often bellicose -- support for the war in Iraq.

Sloshing through the muck and mire of the Bush administration cesspool -- and the sick joke it's made of the promise to restore honor and integrity to Washington -- voters are craving an authentic leader who stands for something more than getting elected. Instead, we have Hillary, phonier than Alberto Gonzales' Senate testimony on domestic spying, sucking up the media oxygen -- and piles and piles of Democratic moolah. The Hillary Code is a very big-budget production: she's already amassed more than $20 million in campaign cash.

But more importantly, her dreary, shape-shifting slog toward 2008 is likely to leave voters as puzzled as Hanks' Robert Langdon when he first finds the murdered Louvre's curator laid out in front of the Mona Lisa. America needs a leader who will restore our faith in our democracy, not another shameless, trying-to-be-all-things-to-all-people politician who will further undermine it. A faith healer, not a faith stealer.

The Da Vinci Code is a heart-pounding, pulse-racing thriller. The Hillary Code is a head-pounding, soul-sapping killer.

My advice to Dems: See the movie, reject the candidate... and find a leader who will "seek the truth," not some deceptive middle ground.

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