January 10, 2008

Hillary: Problem solved

So...some people had written Hillary's campaign off some days back (great cartoon!)...until a "Muskie moment"* happened (video) and Hillary won the NH primary, proving the polls all wrong and quenching the euphoria after Obama's win in the Black-eye...er..Hawyeye state. (I say it is great if the Hillary vs. Obama on top keeps changing for a few more weeks - at least until Super-duper Tsunami Tuesday - more fun that way!)

like Paul Krugman exclaimed:
"Thats it? That’s the 1 minute 51 seconds that launched a thousand commentaries? I think this thing does call for some serious psychological analysis, not of the candidate — who looked and sounded like a normal person — but of the pundits who have turned Hillary into the object of their obsession."
In any case, those track of tears may well have put her back on the way to the White House or at least kept her strongly in contention in the race for the Democratic nomination for now.

Like Ron Elving noted on NPR:

Whether it was the now-famous tear in her eye that helped Clinton change minds in the final hours will be long debated. Chances are the tear was just an easily identified symbol for something larger that changed in the Clinton campaign's approach. For just a few moments, she stopped trying to impress us. All she wanted now, at long last, was a little bit of understanding.

Maureen Dowd wrote in the NYT:
Yet, in the end, she had to fend off calamity by playing the female victim, both of Obama and of the press. Hillary has barely talked to the press throughout her race even though the Clintons this week whined mightily that the press prefers Obama.

At her victory party, Hillary was like the heroine of a Lifetime movie, a woman in peril who manages to triumph. Saying that her heart was full, she sounded the feminist anthem: “I found my own voice.”
Also this excerpt from another analysis of what happened in NH: (If a man wrote this, he'd be jumped upon as being sexist... but since a woman (Gail Collins) wrote this....)
The women whose heart went out to Hillary knew that it wasn’t rational. She asked for this race, and if she was exhausted, the other candidates were, too. (John McCain is 71 and tired and nobody felt sorry for him.) The front-runner always gets ganged up on in debates. If her campaign was in shambles, it was her job to fix it or take the consequences. But for one moment, women knew just how Hillary felt, and they gave her a sympathy vote. It wasn’t a long-term commitment, just a brief strike by the sisters against their overscheduled world.
Here's a feminists POV: Gloria Steinem's NYT article: Women are never front-runners

And a contrary viewpoint today from someone who has been deemed "
a feminist with a strong critique of feminism": Camille Paglia writes in the Salon" Why it's time to close the book on the Clintons -- and herald the Obamas!

And while it may well be that the women vote won Hillary the New Hampshire primary, it is interesting to look at the differences in their political messages and styles rather than focusing only on factors like race or sex of the candidates. Here is a more level-headed (IMO) analysis of how/why the ground shifted in the Granite state, "even as we were "all such mindless undead-zombie-slaves to overnight polling":

Campaigns, roughly speaking, are all about destinations and hurdles. You have a place that you’re trying to get the voters to, and you have to make the argument that shepherds them in that direction. But there are also obstacles in their path, sometimes endemic to the landscape and sometimes placed there by your opponent, and before you can get the voters to your destination, you have to clear those obstacles out of the way, or at least make them low enough that an otherwise sympathetic voter can find his way past.

For Hillary Clinton that destination is experienced leadership and a return to ’90s-era government; for Barack Obama, it’s more fundamental change. Mrs. Clinton’s main obstacle has been one of authenticity and conviction; she seems too calculated and too manufactured, and that reminds voters of the aspects of Clintonism they’d rather not revisit. Mr. Obama’s obstacle, on the other hand, is readiness. Voters who are drawn generally to his oratorical skill and his promise of generational transformation need to be assured that he is capable of being president, rather than just sounding like one.

And last but not least, this excerpt from a hilarious post at the Dailykos blog.


(D) version: Obama is invincible. His campaign is legendary. He sweeps all those before him aside with his aura of manly inevitability. Hillary is doomed.

(R) version: The Godbillies of Iowa have shamefully nominated some know-nothing. This is a great victory for McCain, whose teenish-percent finish is evidence of his tremendous strength among the rest of the country, which is not nearly as populated with dumb-as-rocks Bible chewers as Iowa is known to be.


(D) version: Hillary is invincible. Her campaign is legendary. She sweeps all those before her aside with her aura of competent inevitability. Obama is doomed.

(R) version: I'm sorry, every pundit within a thousand miles of Washington has just reached orgasm. Please check back for wisdom later.

* Reading this Newsweek article, I learned about Edmund Muskie. Apparently,
Photographers argue to this day whether the moisture on Ed Muskie's cheek during a passionate interview on the eve of the 1972 Democratic primary came from tears or snowflakes. But whichever it was, the moment sealed his fate as a man too emotional to be president. Hillary's teary moment may very well work in the opposite direction: helping a candidate who is seen as aloof and too tightly scripted appear more vulnerable, more human and more appealing. And those qualities could be big assets as the campaign careens out of New Hampshire, especially as a contrast to the angry scenes of Clinton rebutting Obama and John Edwards in Saturday night's debate.
More about Muskie's fall here.

Previously: Hillary, the problem solver & The season of Obama.

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