[Updated 7/25. See bottom of post.]
Top 5 Reasons Hillary Clinton is Going to Win the Democratic Presidential Nomination:
1. Great Skin. We watched her on the big CNN/YouTube debate last night and were blown away by the silky smoothness -- nay, the radiance -- of her skin. She looked as if she'd spent the afternoon at Elizabeth Arden, and she made us want to go there, too. We've always admired Senator Clinton's resistance to style, fashion, and other coercions of public femininity, but what's impressive about her now is that she has found a look and a way of being in public that projects a sense of being both comfortable and in command. She manages to look good, serene, smart, and strong, and that's no simple task, given the mixed messages women get about power and ambition.
2. Greater Warmth. It's starting to come across, even on television and within the often strange formats of these endless debates. We hated the idea that Clinton's image needed "softening," but she and her team had to do something about those high negatives, and the whole "Lady Macbeth" thing probably had a lot to do with that. In the more relaxed setting of the YouTube debate, she came across as an attentive, empathic listener who honored and understood the deeply personal concerns and challenges that motivated the questions being put to the candidates. In response to a question about health care, she thanked by name several individuals featured in videos that detailed their health and insurance nightmares and praised them for sharing their stories. Addressing plain folks by name may be the oldest politician's trick in the book, but Clinton is using it to good effect. It humanizes her, makes her seems less wonky than the supposedly arrogant smarty-pants who tried to impose socialized medicine on the country back in the 90s. Suddenly she's the lawyer/mother we all want to have on our side. She cares about our problems, and she knows how to go about fixing them.
3. No More Calculating Than the Guys. Listen to Edwards and Obama on same-sex marriage, and then tell us again why Clinton gets tarred with the brush of calculation and triangulation. Edwards hides behind religion to justify his "personal" opposition to same-sex marriage (while reminding the gay community that his wife came out in favor of it a few weeks ago), and Obama maps out a separate-and-unequal civil union plan (while avoiding a question about the parallels between inter-racial marriage and same-sex marriage). Here's the clip:
We won't defend Clinton on this issue, but watching the fellows try to tiptoe through the minefield of relationship equality without offending anybody gives us confidence that the "Pander Bear" label will be broadly applied during primary season. It shouldn't hurt her any more than it does the others.
4. Laughing Matters. The Clinton campaign has discovered its funny bone, and that may turn out to be their secret weapon. We still chuckle every time we think of the parody they did of The Sopranos finale (which you can watch again here), but we're also impressed with Clinton's spontaneous quips (she had a couple of good lines about the 2000 election in last night's debate) and even the canned laugh lines she uses at every possible opportunity (including the one about trying to do something about health care and "having the scars to show for it"). In their videos, the campaign shows they are willing to be a little bit cool, a little bit snarky in order to reach all those voters who get their politics while surfing the internets in their jammies. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you. My typist's wardrobe suits me just fine.) Out on the trail, the candidate uses gentle self-deprecation to show that she doesn't take herself too seriously -- while never seeming smirky or shallow, as the current resident of the White House so often does when he tries to be funny. The funny girls here in Roxie's World give a hearty PAWS UP to this brilliant strategy.
5. Two for the Price of One. Looking for an experienced leader? Hungry for change? With Clinton, you get both. This is a no-brainer, kids. Every time she takes the stage with her fellow contenders for the nomination, she stands out as a thrilling combination of experience and novelty. Biden and Dodd are smart guys with fine resumes, but they don't for one second tempt you to quit your day job to try to make them president, do they? Edwards and Obama are smart guys whose pretty rhetoric has given us a goosebump or two, but they've never done anything but try to get elected president. Clinton offers experience and the chance to make history by electing the first woman to the presidency. What the heck, kids. Let's go out and win us an election!
(We remind you once again that Roxie's World is officially neutral on the declared Democratic candidates for president. We're just mapping out a scenario based on recent polls [like this one from Wa Po, for example], gut instinct, and an old dog's unerring sense of which way the wind is blowing.)
Now, here's your homework assignment, sweet children of summer. Point, click, and learn. There may be a quiz tomorrow:
- Access, like, a gazillion links to the CNN/YouTube Debate here. Make sure to take a look at the cute dykes who ask about same-sex marriage.
- John Dickerson reviews the debate in Slate and gives it a thumbs-up, arguing that the format put the issues in a more human context. He has praise for Clinton's performance as well. His piece is here.
- Dana Milbank writes the piece on Cindy Sheehan's un-retirement from the anti-war movement that we would have written today if we hadn't gone off in pursuit of the Hillary story. It's here. "What," he asks, "you thought she was going to play shuffleboard?" Well, Dana, we'd rather have her doing that than making one impetuous, self-defeating, self-aggrandizing move after another, but, no, we didn't really expect it.
- In local news of global significance, the city council of Takoma Park, Maryland voted unanimously last night in support of impeaching President Shrub and Vice President Darth Cheney. The hometown of Roxie's World joins 81 other municipalities across the country that have passed impeachment resolutions, including, of course, the Takoma Park-like enclave of Berkeley, California. Read all about it here.
Update: Additional reading and debate detail. Ruth Marcus has a column in Wa Po today (Wednesday) cleverly headlined "Pretty Formidable in Pink." She looks at the collective uncertainty the country is experiencing "about how, and how much, to talk" about the notion of a female president as Clinton's front-runner status coalesces. Marcus addresses a telling moment near the end of the CNN/YouTube debate that somehow escaped our notice. (I might have been napping. The moms, well, you just never know how tuned in they are.) Anyway, in one of the debate's more ridiculous exchanges, each candidate was asked to say "one thing you like and one thing you dislike" about the person to her or his left. Edwards said of Clinton, "I admire what Senator Clinton has done for America, what her husband did for America." Casting about for something he could safely say he disliked about Clinton, Edwards glanced in the direction of her coral pink quilted jacket and deadpanned, "I'm not sure about that coat." Obama gallantly weighed in moments later in defense of Clinton's eye-popping sartorial choice: "I actually like Hillary's jacket. I don't know what's wrong with it.
The most important thing about this moment may well be the deft way Clinton handled it. She laughed off Edwards' fashion tip with a jovial, "Yes, John, it's a good thing we're ending soon," and smoothly pivoted away from saying she disliked anything about anybody. Her graceful riposte put Edwards in his place (un-queer guy giving fashion advice to a straight gal who doesn't need it?) without seeming caustic or, um, castrating. (See reason #4 above.) If the boys in the race are reduced to debating her wardrobe, Clinton doesn't need to go ballistic and call them out on their sexism. With a cock of the head and a smooth comeback line, she can stand there looking regal yet warm, knowing that the all-important camera loves her pink jacket. Score one for the funny girl with the estrogen-fueled team of color consultants.