Admit it, Obamaphiles, there was a part of you that was a teeny bit relieved about the outcome of Tuesday's primaries. As much as you think you want Hillary Rodham Clinton out of the picture so you can love your man with uninterrupted, full-time ardor, you're just not quite ready to cut Clinton loose. She's just too fundamental, too necessary, too much like a sofa you think you hate but, while attempting to move it through the doorway, realize is crucial to the look and feel of the room.
What do you do in this situation? You keep the sofa a little while longer.
I've written about Clinton enough times to know that it's impossible to mention her name without eliciting a mortar round from every possible ideological corner. I've been called a castrating feminist, a reprehensible anti-feminist, an ungrateful brat, a bloviating elitist, a liberal, a neocon, funny, not funny, brilliant, moronic, entitled to my opinion and deserving of certain unprintable acts.
So I know that calling Clinton a sofa will provoke all manner of feverish retorts. A certain species of humorless Hillary defender will see my metaphor as belittling and misogynistic. A certain species of humorless Hillary hater will use it as an occasion to say something perverted and awful. And for all I know, there is a Sofa Anti-Defamation League, which will bristle at the mere comparison between America's favorite lounging apparatus and America's most polarizing human being. You think I'm exaggerating, but you don't see my e-mail.
That said, I still think of Clinton as a sofa, and here's why: Without her, we can't quite relax. Without her, something is missing. There's a strange echo in the room. There's an empty space on the floor. There's nothing for the dog to furtively leap onto as soon as we leave the house.
Let's face it, that's no way to live. Barack Obama, that sleek Eames chair of a man, may be sexier and hipper than Clinton, but he hasn't yet matured to the level of the indispensable sofa. And until he makes voters comfortable enough to kick off their shoes and fall asleep in front of the TV (rather than sitting up to avoid choking on their adoring drool), more than a few Obama supporters will quietly hope Clinton stays in the race just a little longer.
Before Tuesday, the pundits had tapped Obama as the inevitable -- and deserving -- Democratic nominee. But as I went about my business in non-pundit land, I began hearing an interesting refrain. People who'd voted enthusiastically for Obama said that as the Clinton campaign's death knell began ringing (or was that the theme music to "Anderson Cooper 360"?) they began to have second thoughts.
"I love Obama, but now I feel bad for Hillary," more than one person told me. "It's not that I want her to win. I just hate the thought of her losing."
This might at first seem like a slight variation of the sentiment I noted not long ago: "I wish I could like her, but somehow I just don't, and that's making me feel guilty."
But this new iteration is different. Instead of revealing a secret antipathy among potential Clinton supporters, it shows the extent to which Obamaphiles may see her as the net beneath his high-wire act. He is, after all, a lot more fun to watch and think about than she is. But isn't at least some of that the result of her being so decidedly un-fun? If they were co-parents, Obama would be the perennial buyer of ice cream cones and Clinton would be the enforcer of bath time.
The style-versus-substance argument is, of course, the very point the Clintons have been pushing for weeks. But one needn't buy into it to see the ways in which Obama -- and, by extension, his supporters -- could still use a little more time with Hillary.
That's not to say we shouldn't get this thing done. The candidates are now poised to go after one another in ways that threaten the democratic process as well as the Democratic Party. Still, just as my mail is considerably livelier with Hillary around, it's a lot more sporting to watch two fascinating people duke it out than to watch one fascinating person run victory laps in preparation for the next event.
In any case, you can't watch sports -- or politics -- without some kind of reclining device. Will we keep the familiar sofa named Hillary, or go for the Obama Eames chair?
May the best lounger win.