A "Muskie moment" for Clinton in New Hampshire? (updated) Posted by: McQ
on Monday, January 07, 2008
Hillary Clinton apparently had an emotional moment in a NH meeting today, in which it is reported that she teared up and her voice broke up a bit.
Tinkerty Tonk reminds us of another tearful moment in NH when another Democratic nominee, reacting to an editorial in the Manchester Union Leader about his wife:
In a voice choked with emotion, [Edmund] Muskie began to weep as he announced the title to the crowd. "This man doesn't walk, he crawls," sobbed Muskie. He tried to regain his composure, then said loudly: "He's talking about my wife." Muskie calmed himself; unfortunately for him, however, his breakdown was caught by CBS-TV cameras and shown round the country.
Clinton's moment was also caught on tape, in this case by ABC.
In the case of Muskie, reaction from both parties was swift and cutting:
Expectably, there was some gleefully negative reaction in both parties. Washington Democratic Senator Henry Jackson asked: "If he's like that with Loeb, what would he do with Brezhnev?" Added Republican National Chairman Robert Dole: "I don't blame Muskie for crying. If I had to run against Richard Nixon, I'd do a lot of crying too."
Will Ms. Clinton receive the same sort of treatment?
Or is the subject, because of who it happened too, taboo?
First, it is unclear whether Muskie did cry. He insists he never shed the tears we thought we saw. Melting snow from his hatless head filled his eyes, he said, and made him wipe his face. While admitting that exhaustion and emotion got the better of him that morning, the senator believes that he was damaged more by the press and television coverage of the event than by his own actions.
Of course we all know that Muskie went on to lose to George McGovern in the primaries and that particular incident was cited as one of the major contributing factors to Muskie's demise.
I think it is safe to say, after the grueling schedule of Iowa and now New Hampshire, exhaustion is evident among all the candidates and, from experience, emotions are much easier to trigger when in such a state. I can empathize with Clinton.
I'm just wondering if voters will. Don't forget, this is a blood sport.
What I dread most in this political season is the “genuine” moment - and it is coming, soon, sometime between today and tomorrow, or tomorrow and New Hampshire - when Mrs. Clinton, in her ongoing effort to turn herself into whatever the polls says she must be, cries in public. It’s going to be genuinely ghastly.
UPDATE II: How did I know the first to jump on it would be Johnboy:
Edwards, speaking at a press availability in Laconia, New Hampshire, offered little sympathy and pounced on the opportunity to bring into question Clinton’s ability to endure the stresses of the presidency. Edwards responded, “I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business.”
Diana Owen, an associate professor of political science and the chair of American studies at Georgetown University:
"Crying in a campaign at this stage is something you can't do — male or female — and history has shown that," said Owen. "It shows people weakness - crying goes against both male and female stereotypes, neither can do it."
Having watched it, I'd not characterize it as crying. However I think that's exactly how it will end up being characterized.
Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University:
"Crying traditionally isn't great for candidates and it's not something usually that voters want to see and so it might be a little setback. But again, I don't think it's the kind of thing voters will ultimately weigh when they vote."
Tell it to Ed Muskie.
And the ultimate reason, again, from Owens:
"Male voters are basically going to see a hysterical woman," said Owens. "Women are going to think that if Clinton is going to take on this responsible role and represent women in such a visible way she should do a better job of it and not expose the gender to this criticism."
Not to mention that opponents are going to jump all over it - see John Edwards.
CHRIS CILLIZZA: Well, Norah, I think she's both tired and probably emotional because she's losing, but i do think — I don't think everything's mutually exclusive. I think it may help her.
And then there's hubby Bill out there trying to help her out:
PRES. BIILL CLINTON: If you want a president, you want Hillary. If you want a new story, you want somebody else. We can't be a new story. I'm sorry. I can't make her younger, taller, male. There's lots of things I can't do.
NORA O’DONNELL: What does that mean, "I can't make her younger, taller, male"?
AB STODDARD: It means I can't make her Barack Obama. Bill Clinton, the most talented politician of his generation, no one can eat a shoe or a foot as well as he can.
Munch, munch. Another thing Bill Clinton has never known how to do is shut up.
I think she did it to try to show a soft vulnerable side. She’ll fight on, but you gotta wonder when her donors will ditch her (and will they all go to Obama, or will some give to Edwards to keep him alive).
I love how liberals in and out of the press assume Hillary was being sincere. She was faking. She wants to appear human which won’t be possible. She is a lamp throwing, self obsessed, power hungry shrew who forbid White House staffers to make eye contact with her. She must have calculated that the risk of looking weak was worth any benefit she might gain from trying to appear human.
In addition to the weakness charge, she unwittingly undermined her cause by exposing her narcissism. Of course this race is "personal" to her. This race is completely and totally about her own self aggrandizement, her and her husband’s lust for power and narcissistic rage about her liberal ideals having been proved to be a failure.
She isn’t weak because she cried. She is lame because she espouses a lame political philosophy.
What matters more to me than the emotionalism is the reason for it;
" this is very personal for me. It’s not just political it’s not just public. I see what’s happening, and we have to reverse it."
"And so when we look at the array of problems we have and the potential for it really spinning out of control, this is one of the most important elections American has ever faced,"
I have a problem with people who want power because they are the only ones who can save us from chaos/evil, and it is their destiny to do so. She and her ilk seem to have the idea that freedom for other people is acceptable as long as it doesn’t interfere with the important and vital work they are trying to do. Saving humanity is too important to let trivialities like freedom get in the way.