I read this great Op/Ed piece in the New York Daily News by Michael Goodwin about Hillary’s whining and how it’s hurting her campaign, especially in the last debate on Tuesday. She starts out by whining, then tries to make a joke, taking a stab at Obama, and watches it fall flat. Here’s the opinion piece:
You don’t have to love Hillary Clinton to feel her pain. By the end of Tuesday night’s debate, she knew she had failed to change the dynamics of a race slipping away from her. The deflated look on her face telegraphed acceptance, even resignation.
But any sympathy is tempered by the fact she has only herself to blame. Her uneven performance, punctuated by one of the strangest complaints I have ever seen in a presidential debate, likely dashed her last hopes of victory. The self-pity behind the complaint was shocking and unappealing.
She started by being feisty – to a fault. The first 14 minutes were devoted to health care, her signature issue. Yet she was on the defensive and kept interrupting the moderators because Barack Obama skillfully focused on the requirement in her plan that every American purchase health care, whether they want it or not. It is a fair attack because Clinton has never explained how she would enforce that requirement or say what the penalties would be; she didn’t last night, either.
Clearly frustrated by that rocky start, she began her answer to the second question, on NAFTA, with the complaint. “Well, can I just point out that in the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time? And I don’t mind,” she said, clearly minding.
Then she made the mistake worse with a foolish rehearsed line: “And if anybody saw ‘Saturday Night Live,’ you know, maybe we should ask Barack if he’s comfortable and needs another pillow.”
Wow. Woe is her. What a blunder. This is political malpractice of the first order.
This bomb was far worse than her “change you can Xerox” line of last week. This was a petulant whine. There was rustling in the audience, but mostly there was an awkward silence of the kind you notice when someone has said something weird or inappropriate. Creating discomfort in voters over your pain is not a traditional formula for victory.
Obviously, Clinton believes the press is biased in favor of Obama. It’s a charge her team has made frequently. Yet her raising it with a victim’s tone came off as a plea for sympathy – not an endearing quality in someone who wants to be President. A President is supposed to feel sympathy for the people, not the other way around.
There was one other noteworthy exchange. Asked about the endorsement he got from Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who makes frequent anti-Semitic statements, Obama said he had renounced those remarks. He went on to say he was a staunch friend of Israel and cited its “special relationship” with America. He concluded with the touching note that many American Jews were instrumental in the civil rights movement, and that, as President, he hoped to restore what he called a “frayed” bond.
No complaints there. Or here.
Very well said, Mr. Goodwin.