Monday, February 25, 2008

Out-Clintoning (a) Clinton

One finds the theme of what I call "boomerang retribution" a number of times in Proverbs:
  • Proverbs 1:31 ...therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.
  • Proverbs 14:14 The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
  • Proverbs 26:27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
  • Proverbs 28:10 Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.
This pattern was brought vividly to mind as I read of Hillary!® Clinton's recent debate with B. Hussein Obama.

Hillary!® pointed out that Obama has lifted words from others' speeches without attribution. Hillary!® said
Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That’s, I think, a very simple proposition. (APPLAUSE) And, you know, lifting whole passages from someone else’s speeches is not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox.
Then she went on to hammer him pretty well and at length on the fact that it will take a lot more than talk to bring about the change he promises.

But the line fell flat, it even got boo's. Why? Because Obama had just said, about this very issue, "...
I’m happy to have a debate on the issues, but what we shouldn’t be spending time doing is tearing each other down. We should be spending time lifting the country up."

Oh, my. Old enough to know who that (dodge) sounds like?

How about this? Again, Hillary!® had been hitting at Obama's weakest point, his — to be charitable — light resume. Chris Matthews totally stumped an Obama supporter, State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-TX), by asking for a list of Senator Obama's accomplishments.

Watson could not name even one.

But no fear. Obama himself defanged this, too, with these words:
Senator Clinton of late has said: Let’s get real. The implication is that the people who’ve been voting for me or involved in my campaign are somehow delusional.
Oh, ow.

I made an instant connection with the campaign Hillary!®'s husband, here known largely as The Nameless One (TNO), ran against George Bush Sr. Every specific was deflected with glossy, billowy rhetoric. Later on in the campaign, Sr. finally woke up and began trying to get a little aggressive in his approach. It didn't work. TNO had a slick, contentless, glitzy dodge for every charge.

Bush would finally nail TNO on specifics as to policy or ideology, and TNO would ramble on about how "sad" and "disappointing" and "desperate" the poor old man was being, how "divisive" such talk was, how "tired" people were of this sort of rhetoric. He'd always position himself and his supporters as somehow apart from and above the fray, and specifically the delusive, vicious rants of his opponents. It was hollow, slick, disingenuous, and very effective.

So it struck me: Obama is out-Clintoning a Clinton. He's beating her by doing what her husband did so effectively: running a campaign that is all style and show and rhetoric and platitudes, and very light on substance. Oh, doubtless, he's got plans. But like your friendly neighborhood Mormons, he's saving them for later.

So if the (sigh) McCain people have a brain among the whole lot of them, they'll be studying TNO's campaigns, and readying their responses. They'll be figuring out where Bush (and Dole) went wrong, and getting some sharp, pointed, red-hot responses. They should expect the same sorts of campaign, with the same props. Why, I bet a team of the best Ivy-league economists have already signed a document saying that Obama's plan for America is the best they've ever seen — before they even see it!

If the McCain team can rub two neurons together, they're already preparing responses for this.

But that's an awfully big "if." If they can't think of any, I can. They can call me.

Meanwhile, it's difficult not to see a touch of justice in seeing the slick Clinton approach used on the Clintons themselves — and so effectively.

On a lighter note, Saturday Night Live even parodied the media's love-affair with The Obamessiah. It isn't their best, but there's a chuckle or two:

UPDATE: the Battle of the Clintons is ON!

What shall I do? Update this same post periodically, or make it a series? I mean, here we are, the post hardly a day old, and I have yet another classic example.

So Hillary!®'s campaign reportedly releases this photo:

Lovely. I could say... many things. I shall refrain.

How does the Obama campaign respond? In classic TNO fashion, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said
On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election. This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world
Not to be out-Clintoned by a non-Clinton, Hillary!® herself retorted:
This is one more attempt by my opponent's campaign to change the subject.... From his health-care plan that won't cover everybody, from an economic plan that won't produce jobs, and from a record that is pretty thin when it comes to national security and standing up for our country around the world.
This may end up being a battle as to who does the better Clinton — The Obamessiah, or Hillary!® herself?

And if Obama out-Clintons Clinton, perhaps he will give TNO a phonecall, and cry, "Clinton, you magnificent bad-boy, I read your book!"


Ricky Rickard said...

Wow, I had forgotten how slick Bill Clinton was in running against George H.W. Bush. Sounds just like Barack Obama. Nice work picking up on this. It is scary to think that method might get someone elected that is scarier than Bill Clinton. I can't fathom right now voting for John McCain, but I may have to just so this guy doesn't get elected. If the fact that he is using Bill Clinton's tactics doesn't scare you, his view on faith should. This is his speech on faith and politics:

Flawed at best, in my opinion. Scary, a guy with this little experience and this little knowledge of a faith he claims to have had for 20 years could be our next President.

Trinian said...

My word, you're right! I listened to some of that debate, and I was left wondering why Hillary!® seemed so angry. I think you've nailed it - she's mad because he's running the TNO Clinton campaign that she wishes she had.

I also absolutely loved that line - "The implication is that the people who’ve been voting for me or involved in my campaign are somehow delusional." I don't think Obama meant it to be quite so humorous as I found it.

Stefan said...

Dan: Prescient analysis.

Ricky: Wow. Talk about an about turn! I didn't do you the decency of replying at the time, but the way you handled your change of opinion on this election was exemplary for all of us, as Christians wrangling with the practical necessity of living out our faith in this world.

Ricky Rickard said...


Thank you. I am just glad Dan and others were able to show me my error before I actually voted (my primary is not until March 4). The real difference came when I had to explain to my 9 year old daughter why I was not going to vote for Barack Obama. When I explained to her why, she simply said "I am glad, because none of the things he supports sound Christian". That insight from a 9 year old. She saw it a lot quicker than I did. God is good, even to a hard headed person like me. Thanks again!

DJP said...

Hm. Wonder if I could get your daughter to talk to a few folks I've been trying to talk with for a few years now....

Ricky Rickard said...

I am sure she would talk to them, it would be getting her to stop talking that would be the challenge.... :-)

Stefan said...

Well, the GOP couldn't have asked for a better turn of events than the nastiness that has taken over the Democratic campaign. Has there ever been as vicious a nomination contest as the one that's unfolding between Clinton and Obama? The GOP won't even have to run any negative ads, the way things are going...they can just re-run all the material the Democrats have dug up against their own kind.

Two type-A personalities with unbounded ambition and the dream to be the first non-caucasian male president. What happened to holding hands and singing kumbaya?

Tom Chantry said...

"You magnificent bad-boy"? At least you won't be accused of plagiarizing anyone!

Carlo said...


It appears the Obamessiah You Tube is no longer available, I tried your link and did a search it is no longer available.

Carlo said...

You must have updated the link. Thanks, I needed a great laugh. I use to watch the first 5 min (the rest of the show is pretty much trash) of SNL because they did a lot political skits back before 2006. They made fun of President Bush a lot and they did a great job of doing, they were really funny. One of my favorite ones is they had a skit of President Bush pronouncing (correctly) these real difficult world leader names. I was ROFL. But I haven't kept up so, maybe I need to get back in watching their skits.