Saturday, December 01, 2007


There's a weird double message in two news stories about the aftermath of the New Hampshire hostage crisis, by Glen Johnson of AP and David Paul Kuhn of the Politico -- they both seem to be saying, "Hillary's slick phoniness looks impressively presidential." It's as if these guys want to praise Hillary, but can't stop thinking of her as a slick, cynical faker who arrogantly thinks we owe her the presidency -- so they present her as all that even as they praise her.

Here's Johnson:

When the hostages had been released and their alleged captor arrested, a regal-looking Hillary Rodham Clinton strolled out of her Washington home, the picture of calm in the face of crisis.

"Regal-looking"? We're constantly told that we'll elect Hillary at our peril -- we must avoid "dynasties." Even seeming to compliment her, Johnson seems to have internalized this notion.

And now comes the inauthenticity:

The image, broadcast just as the network news began, conveyed the message a thousand town hall meetings and campaign commercials strive for -- namely, that the Democratic presidential contender can face disorder in a most orderly manner....

Little more than three hours later, just in time for the 11 p.m. local news, Clinton reaffirmed that perspective. In New Hampshire, she embraced her staffers and their families, and lauded the law enforcement officials who brought a siege at her local campaign headquarters to a peaceful conclusion.

It was a vintage example of a candidate taking a negative and turning it into a positive....

Over the ensuing five hours, as a state trooper negotiated with the suspect and hostages were released one-by-one, Clinton continued to call up and down the law enforcement food chain, from local to county to state to federal officials.

"I knew I was bugging a lot of these people, it felt like on a minute-by-minute basis, trying to make sure that I knew everything that was going on so I was in a position to tell the families, to tell my campaign and to be available to do anything that they asked of me," the New York senator said.

At the same time, the woman striving to move from former first lady to the first female president was eager to convey that she knew the traditional lines of command and control in a crisis, even if the events inside the storefront on North Main Street were far short of a world calamity.

"They were the professionals, they were in charge of this situation, whatever they asked me or my campaign to do is what we would do," Clinton said.

Everything is calculated, none of it is real. Typical Clinton behavior. Impressive!

And then we get to the human factor, or lack thereof:

... Clinton offered up a third dimension to her crisis character: humanity. She said she felt "grave concern" when she first heard the news of the hostage-taking.

"It affected me not only because they were my staff members and volunteers, but as a mother, it was just a horrible sense of bewilderment, confusion, outrage, frustration, anger, everything at the same time," Clinton said.

It was a thawing moment for a stoic figure who once snapped that she opted for professional life instead of staying home to bake cookies....

Translation: For a cold, calculating bitch, she sure seemed human!


Kuhn, at the Politico, gives us a similar narrative, starting with his title: "Clinton Seizes Opportunity After Crisis." What does that mean? Clinton shows the ability to take charge? Clinton shows that she'll grab hold of anything and use it to her advantage? I can't help thinking the latter is the subtext, even if the former is the text.

Kuhn writes:

... as soon as [the hostage crisis] ended, Clinton took full advantage of the opportunity she had unexpectedly been handed.

In her New Hampshire press conference, she stood before a column of police in green and tan uniforms. She talked of meeting with hostages. She mentioned that she spoke to the state's governor about eight minutes after the incident began.

The scene was one of a woman in charge.

Yes -- carefully stage-managed, but impressive.

"It looked and sounded presidential," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "This was an instance of the White House experience of this campaign. They knew how to handle this."

That the crisis was outside Clinton's control gave it a rare quality in this era of hyper-controlled politicking, Sabato added.

"What's most important about it is that it's not contrived," he said. "It's a real event and that distinguishes it from 99 percent of what happens in the campaign season."

Even as she's praised for how she dealt with something unscripted, we're reminded how scripted her campaign is.

...In her two public appearances after the hostages were freed, she was stern, but she also spoke of the concerns she felt as a mother, admitting to a "horrible sense of bewilderment" and "outrage."

...The personal has at times been hard to find in Clinton. She heads the largest and most manicured of all operations.

Her campaign has an especially organized staff that surrounds her. She stays on script and she stays on schedule....

Again: For a cold, calculating bitch, she sure seemed human!

Right-wing bloggers (e.g., Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House and Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters) find these stories excessively one-sided in Hillary's favor. Me, I just think they're odd -- Kuhn and Johnson seem to be impressed, but their minds are colonized by right-wing memes.

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