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Should Hillary Embrace Defeat?

Since losing in Iowa the Clinton campaign has mostly been dumping on the state. Hillary has now noted a couple of times, in a passive-aggressive way, that she's happy to compete in New Hampshire, where people in the military and night workers aren't "disenfranchised" (as they are by the caucuses, though she doesn't come right out and say that). Clintonites have also hinted that there's something a little sexist about the Hawkeye state, given that it's just one of two never to have elected a woman governor or member of Congress.

But in today's WashPost, Paul Begala suggests that Hillary embrace rather than downplay the results in Iowa, that she

accept responsibility for the loss, saying, " 'I've been knocked on my rear end. It's not fun, but the view from the canvas can be instructional.' " "America loves an underdog," Begala said. "Candidates can show their character in defeat."

Agreed. I always thought defeat could be good for Hillary. It could have humanized her, transforming her from a queen awaiting her coronation to a more nuanced figure willing to accept defeat and fight her heart out to overcome it. But that's not happening. The Clintonites are staying the course. I'm just not sure there's much reason to think the course is working.

P.S. Along these lines, a small thing that has struck me about Hillary's speaking style: She really can have a regal air. During a stump speech she holds her head at an upward tilt, and from what I can glean rarely seems to make eye contact with her audience. Bill, by contrast, points his chin down and leans hard over a podium, creating a more welcoming air of casual intimacy. He also appears to lock eyes with with people. Maybe this is the difference between being a candidate and a surrogate. Or maybe it illustrates something about Hillary's bearing and attitude that is causing her real problems.

Update: Ben Smith has a great meta-point about why Begala feels the need to advise via the Washington Post at all. 

Photo: Getty 

--Michael Crowley