We were informed not two days ago, were we not, that she’s the picture of calm in a crisis, projecting an almost “regal” serenity as the world falls apart around her. Two days later, with the polls tight in Iowa, she’s putting out press releases about Obama’s grade-school homework assignments and impugning his character in ways that have Billy Jeff’s own cabinet members unloading:

Yesterday, HRC suggested O lacks courage. “There’s a big difference between our courage and our convictions, what we believe and what we’re willing to fight for,” she told reporters in Iowa, saying Iowa voters will have a choice “between someone who talks the talk, and somebody who’s walked the walk.” Then asked whether she intended to raise questions about O’s character, she said: “It’s beginning to look a lot like that.”

I just don’t get it. If there’s anyone in the race whose history shows unique courage and character, it’s Barack Obama. HRC’s campaign, by contrast, is singularly lacking in conviction about anything. Her pollster, Mark Penn, has advised her to take no bold positions and continuously seek the political center, which is exactly what she’s been doing.

“I could never vote for her,” Krauthammer wrote not long ago, “but I (and others of my ideological ilk) could live with her — precisely because she is so liberated from principle.” Yeah, but the point of liberating yourself from principle is to maximize your political maneuverability. Is this what she’s planning to do with her greater field of motion? Psychoanalyzing Obama’s presidential ambitions from the time he was in the womb?

Update: The audacity of premature obituaries.