AS HER ham-handed handlers insult entire states, and her self-absorbed husband indulges in red-faced, finger-wagging outbursts, Sen. Hillary Clinton soldiers on.
It is a joyless campaign, with stump speeches that carry tales of woe and get delivered in a booming voice that could open a wall safe.
A full three months after the Iowa caucuses, nearly two months after Washington's caucuses, the Clintons seem bent on turning the Democrats' fertile ground into scorched earth. . . .
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, holder of two Cabinet-level posts in the Clinton administration, bounded into a Portland rally two weeks ago to endorse Sen. Barack Obama.
The retaliation was swift, furious and self-defeating.
Clinton backer James Carville, noting that Richardson made up his mind during Holy Week, opined: "Mr. Richardson's endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic."
If Richardson is Judas, which Clinton is Jesus? . . .
The official Clinton reaction to Richardson's endorsement was condescension.
"The time (Richardson) could have been effective has long since passed. ... I don't think it is a significant endorsement in this environment," declared Clinton "chief strategist" Mark Penn.
Sound familiar? After Super Tuesday, Penn declared that Obama had won only one "significant" state, his home base of Illinois. Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Missouri -- and Washington that Saturday -- are dismissed by Hillaryland.
The campaign stumbled on, trying to explain the candidate's false statement that she landed under fire while on a visit to Bosnia as first lady. The TV footage of the event showed a standard-issue welcoming ceremony.
Come Wednesday, Richardson's endorsement was back on ABC News. Hillary Clinton was quoted as disparaging Obama to Richardson, saying: "He cannot win, Bill. He cannot win."
She was denying the statement Thursday.
The defections must stick in the craw of the Clintons. Bill Clinton watched the Super Bowl with Richardson in New Mexico, seeking the very endorsement that is now dismissed. . . .
When left to her own devices, Hillary Clinton can be a highly impressive human being.
She delivered a superlative, insightful briefing on global warming in the Arctic, after a 2005 tour with Sen. John McCain. At a Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas, a man shouted that his wife was "an illegal." "No woman is illegal," Clinton shot back, earning days of rancid abuse from right-wing pundits. . . .
The miscalculations and misjudgments -- which likely have cost Hillary Clinton the nomination, and Bill Clinton much of his reputation -- are the campaign's own doing.
In years past, the Clintons showed an amazing knack for getting themselves into binds, then escaping tight corners. It has deserted them.
Obama and Hillary Clinton will appear Saturday night when Montana Democrats hold their annual Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner in Butte. It won't be hard to tell which candidacy carries the most baggage.