Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Message (not Stowe Boyd's, but Hillary Clinton's)

I was listening to the Chris Wallace interview of Hillary Clinton last night, and was struck by a few things.

First, the need for a politician to stay on message no matter what. Clinton certainly demonstrated that in a couple of her responses to Wallace.

WALLACE: Senator, let's talk about, as we look forward toward Super Tuesday, the track of the race tonight. The exit polls indicate that among people who made up their minds in the last month that you won by an overwhelming margin, 57 percent to 32 percent. But among those who make up their minds in the last week, it was a dead, flat tie, 35 percent, 35 percent between you and Obama. Doesn't that indicate that he is closing the gap with you here and perhaps in other big states around the country?

CLINTON: Well, I don't know about that. I really don't pay a lot of attention to anything but the final numbers...


and the final numbers were overwhelming. But what's really at stake here is who could be the best president for our country and who can be the best nominee for our party. And I think voters of Florida joined voters of New Hampshire, Nevada and Michigan in saying very clearly that I'm that person.

She echoed this "who could be the best president" later, when asked about the Kennedy endorsements.

WALLACE: I want to ask you about the endorsement by Senator Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy yesterday of Senator Obama. One thing is that Kennedy said that Obama was ready to serve as president from day one. Perhaps even more significantly, he said this campaign is a choice between the old politics of polarization and the new politics, and basically laid the mantle, the torch of new -- passing the torch to a new generation, on Barack Obama. On some level -- I know you've all had endorsements, but on some level, does that sting?

CLINTON: No. You know, Chris, we all have had endorsements. I was endorsed tonight by Senator Bill Nelson here in Florida. Earlier in the day, I was endorsed by Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California. And I'm very proud of my endorsements, as I'm sure other candidates are of theirs.

But ultimately, this is not about our endorsements. It's about the American people. It's about what they want in the next president.

After reading this, you get the idea that if Clinton were to show up at an In N Out Burger over the next week, the conversation would go like this?

GUY BEHIND COUNTER: What would you like?

CLINTON: It's not important what I would like. It's about what the American people would like....

The second thing struck me while I was tweeting about the first. And that was Clinton's "experience" line. Again from the Wallace interview:

...having been privileged to serve in the White House...

Now, to be fair, there are two ways to interpret that statement. The one that Hillary's opponents will latch onto is the interpretation that Hillary believes that she's being RE-elected President of the United States, that she already served as co-President for eight years, and now she's going back. Gore Schmore; 1993 to 2001 was the Bill and Hillary Show.

However, Clinton probably meant to imply the other meaning of that statement, that she served as an advisor in the White House, as part of the (pardon the expression) kitchen cabinet that often serves as the closest advisors to a President - much closer than Cabinet members, and in some cases even the de jure chief of staff. Therefore, Clinton's claim to have served in the White House is just as legitimate as the claims of Karl Rove, Michael Deaver, Hamilton Jordan, H. R. Haldeman, and Sherman Adams.

One thing's for certain. Although Clinton's experience in elective office is fairly short, her political experience goes back much farther.

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