So, what are we to make of George (and Laura) Bush’s gushing praise of Hillary Clinton yesterday? First of all, great timing — the president went chivalrous just as Hillary premiered her first negative ad decrying “the Republican attack machine.” The word of the day appeared to be “pressure,” for some reason: “There is no question that Senator Clinton understands pressure better than any of the candidates,” said George vaguely, with Laura adding, vis-à-vis the value of the First Lady experience, “You certainly know what it’s like You know the pressure there is.” The pressure they’re talking about must be the inexorable force of the Republican hot air propelling Clinton, for about two years now, toward the nomination. We've all heard the theory: The GOP gambit is to visibly tremble before Hillary as the Only Formidable Opponent until August 29, 2008, after which the real beatdown begins. But you know what? We ourselves have trotted out this line enough times. Today, what comes across in Bush’s bumbling praise is a certain exhaustion with his own job, and the self-abasement required to get and to keep it. When Bush says that Clinton understands “the klieg lights,” he’s not being facetious or feigning fear. He’s simply betraying relief he’ll never have to do this crap again. —Michael Idov
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