Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hillary on FNS

She won--from a political perspective, that is. Mainly because, like this post, she was purposefully verbose.

As usual Wallace had a good list of tough questions designed to poke holes in her talking points but she didn't allow him to poke very far.

Media consultants teach candidates to always "stay on message" during interviews, particularly when in hostile waters. Conversely, the questioner's job is to throw off the interviewee and get them to admit stuff not in the script. Mrs. Clinton did an outstanding job of U-turning off his salvos and going quickly back to message followed by near mindless oratory for precious minutes at a time, effectively running out the clock on him (is she a Bears or Giants fan?). She's learning from a good teacher.

Wallace did his best work on Hillarycare Part Deux. He damaged her retort that it's "not government-run health care" by pointing out that well, it is. The govmint will administer it, penalize the insurers for not following strict rules, and mandate that everyone buy into the system whether they want to or not. Yes, Federal employees have a similar program but they are not forced to participate.

The trick seems to be to subsidize the higher risk people by making the lower riskers pony up, which was probably the bone thrown to the insurance companies. They'll probably be guaranteed a profit, which will essentially be made off the backs of those now choosing not to participate (which amounts to a backdoor tax, and a not very progressive one) with any shortfalls made up by tax increases.

But that was about the pinnacle of Wallace's day. There were no questions on illegal immigrants. Heck, even Stephanopolous got a question in about whether illegals would be covered in her policy (no) but Wallace never made it to the border.

They did get to Iraq, which is becoming a less contentious issue for Hillary with each passing day partly because she only gets softballs on it. Here's Chris's about Petraeus:
President Bush said that you and other Democrats are more afraid — his word — afraid of irritating the left wing and MoveOn than you are about insulting the American military. Does he have a point?
"No", she said, then proceeded to whirl into politico-spin that probably made her husband reconsider his many flings. She cheerfully talked about her previous vote for a similar resolution regarding John Kerry (Swiftboated), which presumably was blanket in nature. So much for the building of bridges.

Wallace completely let her slide by not reminding her of her vote to send the General to Iraq this year or her previous vote to allow troops there to begin with, nor did he tap her feelings on what America's role should be if the whole place lights up after we leave. Nuance, as they say.

By the way, the Times discount to, now confirmed, should be investigated insofar as a campaign finance irregularity. Their 50 percent discount would have allowed that many more Republican hit pieces down the line, which suggests the Times is working for the DNC. Just a thought.

Wallace also didn't have time to touch on the cave dwellers or her plan for Afghanistan, but she did weigh in on Mahmoud A'jihad (he bad) followed by a bizarre charge that Bush has somehow outsourced his cowboy-up on Iran to the French and other EU countries. Stunning, since a few years ago Kerry blasted Bush up one side and down the other for alienating the Europeans and not asking for a global test.

And what was up with all the cackling laughter, seemingly coming when laughter wasn't necessarily called for and after short pregnant pauses? Well, we have some theories...

Idea one, it was by design but she partially botched it. They wanted her to come across as friendly and charming, prerequisites for any successful president, yet with her it seems weirdly fake. This is an area she needs more work on.

Idea two, it was just nervous laughter in the face of tough questions to stall for time while thinking of a good reply, similar to her recent interaction with Bill Maher. That's my likely take. But there's a third idea, a tad conspiratorial if you will, which says her laughing was secret code for the nutroots who consider Fox News "Faux News" and who've been rhetorically tearing Chris Wallace a new orifice ever since his dustup with Bill exactly a year ago, mad at him for making any suggestion he had responsibility along the path to 9/11. Wicked laughter at payback, in other words.

Actually, Wallace's failure to interrupt Mrs. Clinton very much might also be a tad conspiratorial. While Mrs. Clinton should be commended for coming on Fox she also knows they will want access down the line if she wins, in effect putting a small pair of handcuffs on them that she can manipulate. If this is true we'll never see her on O'Reilly since his DNA would prevent him from letting her spin that long.

But keep in mind it's not only Fox playing that game. Why do you think a railroad, Norfolk Southern, is running saturation TV ads touting their fuel efficiency (the hopping gas cans)? Because they are hedging against the possibility of a Democratic stranglehold on government for the next decade in an age when Al Gore wins Emmys and Oscars. NS hauls a lot of coal, you know. Let the positioning begin!

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