"It's pretty pathetic."
Hillary Clinton, 3/3/08, describing her
appearance on the Daily Show the day before the most important primary of
"It's pretty pathetic."
What an opening for a pundit to slam Senator Clinton. Except that they'd
be slamming a great political maneuver.
Hillary has spent a year pushing her experience; the last three months
ripping into the hollowness of Barack Obama's speeches. She even sent out
a surrogate to make sure everyone knew that Barack's middle name rhymed
Saddam's last name. And the only thing that fortified were her
unfavorable ratings. In fact, most every time she tried the tried
(tired?) and true it not only blew up in her face, but it also seemed to
give Obama great grist for a simple return volley that, in comparison,
made her sound all the more shrill.
With Obama momentum picking up steam and Hillary's prospects doing a
header, it seemed that no matter what the New York senator tossed out
there fell flat.
Hel-loo Satire, with a capital S...for Self-deprecation.
It's a pretty simple prescription for Hillary's turnaround. Take two
Saturday Night Lives and call Jon Stewart in the morning.
A week and a half ago, Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations and
campaign were dead in the water. Today, she's back in the race. What
changed? A great speech? An Obama slip?
It all comes down to satire. Saturday Night Live spoofed the Obama-Media
tryst and a week later Hillary showed up on SNL to mock herself. Add to
that her appearing on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on primary eve and
you know that the Clinton campaign has finally gotten the
Satire and humor has always been politics' secret weapon. Nixon appeared
on Laugh In. Schwarzenegger kibitzed his way to a candidacy on Leno. Mike
Huckabee shot into the national spotlight with visits to Stephen Colbert
and Bill Maher. It's not so much a shock that satire works. The question
is, why isn't it used more often?
With a bit of help from the heavily-viewed Saturday Night Live spoofing
the Obama-Media tryst and a week-after followup appearance on SNL by the
actual Hillary mocking herself, Clinton's actual chances of winning in
Texas and Ohio, once again became an actuality.
Add that to the fact she showed up primary eve on the Daily Show with Jon
Stewart and you know that her campaign has finally taken political satire
And obviously, based on perfromance, she doesn't even have to be good at
Satire as a political tool, even as a pretty nifty weapon, has long shown
its value. It reveals that the powerful wear no clothes, and since
Angelina Jolie is not running for President, but Hillary and McCain are,
sometimes it's not very pretty. But it works a great deal of the time.
It's just that politicos never seem to let the hilarious evidence sway
them from their disastrous strategy of same-same. Wikipedia, the world's
most infallible authority, says that "political satire is a method of
advancing political arguments where such arguments are expressly
forbidden." I'm guessing the "where" they speak of is a losing political
It doesn't always work, especially when you have your opponent exercising
the same. Hillary mocked Obama's speech making. Obama went one better and
mocked Hillary mocking him. Or "3AM in the morning? Here's your 3AM in
the morning!" Still nothing makes a point better than one that tears
apart an opponent's argument with a clever pin prick - heh-heh. I wrote
prick - to the funny bone.
Will Hillary's going to the satire gambit lead to an ultimate victory?
Not necessarily. Time will tell. But it's already given a good last
minute kick to her campaign that only a week ago pundits had said looked
pretty pathetic. That is, until Hillary did the last thing you'd