A Talking Points Memo reader gets it right:
I submit that your mixed feelings about Hillary are the result of two different desires: to nominate the best Democrat, and to nominate the best candidate. I suffer from the same problem -- the idealist in me is disquieted by Hillary's attacks and backhanded smears on Obama, while the pragmatist in me sees her ability to throw elbows as a plus. The general election will be a bitch-slapping muckfest no matter who gets the nomination. I've been a longtime Obama guy, mainly out of the belief that he has the best chance in the general, but Hillary is starting to seem pretty good. Every time she (or Bill, or another of her surrogates) gets in a shot at Obama, part of me is disgusted . . . but another part of me counts it as a point in her favor.
Hillary is who she is; she can't change her spots just for the primary race. A lot of people who now condemn her for being a cunning operator will despair when Obama, if he wins the nomination, responds to bitch slaps from the right with "hope and unity" language. But you can't have it both ways. I'm reminded of people who hate lawyers because they're too contentious and sleazy and aggressive -- but when they get sued, they insist on getting the meanest bull dog of a lawyer they can find.