Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Awkward Like a Fox

I was surprised by the media's coverage of Hilary's joke that she "knew about evil men" on the stump the other day. The first question she was asked (by a reporter, that is) was the obvious one, had she been referring to her wayward husband? With widened eyes she protested, oh no, it had been about the political bad guys, haha. Then someone on cable news took it all literally: "It's a gaffe, isn't it Rona, and will it do her damage? And as if she expected us to believe it was about those bad guys!" It was a joke, and obviously about her husband, and he probably even helped her out thinking it up. It's got that Clinton sense of judo. Here's what's happening: Hilary has two tasks (among others) right now - that is, early in the campaign. First, the Dems lost by very narrow margins in the last two elections. The early campaign focus has to be on that base (Republicans understand this). Second, Bill has to be played front and center. He's the reason she's there historically, and he's very popular with the party rank and file. One of Gore's chief mistakes in 2000 was not deploying him where he would have helped (one of a couple of mistakes that, just by itself, would have turned that election). So Bill's got to be aired out. And, like admitting you inhaled, early on is the time to do it. Use the infidelity issue to your advantage: appeal to the experience of ordinary women. Exploit the gender gap, which might be wide in 2008 if the GOP is still running on national security issues. Above all, rinse the tension out of the Monica issue by finding a way to allude to it. And that's just what she did.

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