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“Monster”

Obama is apologizing for the fact that one of his minions referred to Hillary as a “monster.”

JACKSON, Miss.—Sen. Barack Obama suffered another foreign policy snafu with one of his advisers, who told a newspaper that his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, was a “monster” who is “stooping to anything” to try to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
Samantha Power, who is advising the Obama campaign, made the comments to the Scotsman newspaper of Scotland. Power later apologized and Obama said there was no place in his campaign for such descriptions of his opponent.
In an interview, Power described Clinton by saying, “She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything.” Though Power had tried to withdraw the remark, it occurred during an on-the-record interview.

Memo to press-handlers: If you want to go off the record, you do it before you say something stupid, not right after. If you try to insist that something is off the record after you’ve already said it, you can be 100 percent certain that the quote will appear in the first few paragraphs, if not in the lead.
“Monster” is an interesting word, though. Its contemporary meaning–Frankenstein’s golem, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, &c.–diminishes the richness of the word. A “monster,” properly understood, is a portent, something that gives warning. It is related to “demonstrate” and to “monstrance,” which (I should share with you non-Catholics) is the item used to display the Host during adoration. It looks like this:

In that sense, the word seems fitting: Hillary is a walking warning of the noxious nature of political power. In spite of the cruel jokes to the contrary, she’s not a horribly unattractive person, but she is, it sometimes seems, the picture to Bill’s Dorian Gray: all of the neediness and cynicism of their brand of politics, which is so suavely concealed by the ex-president, is made manifest in Hillary.
But if we’re talking about omens of bad things to come, then we should really be talking about Obama, who portends an entirely different sort of hollowness and cynicism, and who seems, to me, the far more worrying phenomenon. 

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