Clinton announced her intentions via the Internet on a Web site called "Hillary for President." Incredibly, on the day of her announcement, the name "Clinton" did not appear anywhere in the long text on the site's home page ? except when linking to articles from The Associated Press and The Washington Post, and at the very bottom in the obligatory fine print: "Paid for by Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee."
In an apparent attempt to model her marketing on the likes of Madonna, Beyonce and Cher, Clinton's site proclaimed: "Today, Hillary took the first step " and "Send Hillary a message of support " and "Hillary is the Democrats' best shot."
As New Yorkers may recall, Clinton gradually became comfortable presenting herself as simply "Hillary" in both of her Senate campaigns. But what works in New York, where tabloid newspapers are fond of calling her "Hill," may not play on the national stage.
A close inspection of the site reveals how determined its designers were to cleanse the campaign of the Clinton name. In the senator's 1,937-word biography, the name "Clinton" appears just once, halfway in ("she followed her heart and a man named Bill Clinton to Arkansas"). That's it. "Hillary" appears 38 times.
Clinton had little choice but to use her full name in her Web address, yet she meticulously avoided it in the actual title. Why? Is it because she doesn't wish to draw attention to her marriage to the former president? (Doubtful, her husband is now a draw.) More likely it's because she knows that she's the only candidate whose name lends itself to Oprah-ization.
Organizers for John Edwards and John McCain presumably considered, and rejected, naming their sites "John for President." And it's hard to imagine that President Bush would have gotten much traction from a site titled "George for President."
The real genius in Clinton's approach is that it trumps Senator Barack Obama. He can't possibly win with a "Barack for President" site. The only thing less compelling would be a site that made use of his middle name: Hussein for President.
If nothing else, Clinton has shifted attention away from the nagging question of whether America is ready for a female president. She clearly prefers to have voters wonder whether America is ready for a president who wishes to be known exclusively by her first name.
This article first appeared in The New York Times.