While Hillary Rodham Clinton came out second best to Barack Obama in their long-range oratorical duel at Selma, Ala., the real problem with her visit there a week ago concerned her March 4 speech's claim of her attachment to Martin Luther King Jr. as a high school student in 1963. How, then, could she be a "Goldwater girl" in the next year's presidential election?
The incompatibility of those two positions of 40 years ago was noted to me by Democratic old-timers who were shocked by Sen. Clinton's temerity in pursuing her presidential candidacy. Barry Goldwater's opposition to the 1964 voting-rights bill was not incidental to his run for the White House but an integral element of conscious departure from Republican tradition that contributed to his disastrous performance.
Of course, no political candidate should have to explain inconsistencies of her high school days. What Hillary Clinton said at Selma is significant because it betrays her campaign's panicky reaction to the unexpected rise of Sen. Obama as a serious competitor for the Democratic nomination.