Sunday, January 06, 2008

Hillary's Ségolène moment?

You may recall that, last year during the French presidential election campaign, there was supposedly a moment when Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal flew off the handle during a debate with then-candidate Nicolas Sarkozy. I watched the video that captured Royal's putative moment of weakness... and was unimpressed. She seemed a bit upset, but to my eyes she hadn't truly lost her cool.

Now along comes this new video from the Saturday night Democratic debate. It purportedly shows Hillary Clinton revealing, in a moment of weakness, her angry side. The release of the video seems to be aimed at feeding the current meme that Hillary can't handle pressure, that she won't be cool under fire. I'm not sure why this charge is being aimed at her (though if I were to guess, I'd ascribe it to sexism); her husband was notorious for his often-towering temper behind closed doors, the Watergate transcripts reveal a Nixon who had no trouble spewing foul-mouthed invective, Harry Truman was famous for his blistering, caustic character... the list goes on. Since when did preternatural calm become a criterion by which to judge a candidate's presidential demeanor?

So I watched the Hillary video expecting bulging eyes, taut neck cords, reddened cheeks, and a big, fat vein pulsing in the middle of the forehead. I saw none of that. In fact, I couldn't help noticing that, in that supposedly "heated" moment, Hillary had strung together an impressively long sentence whose grammar was, at least on initial hearing, impeccable. I doubt I could do that under pressure. I'd be sputtering and half out of my seat, asking my interlocutor if he'd like to step outside.

I'm no fan of Hillary, but come on-- sometimes people make mountains out of molehills.



Anonymous said...

Despite disliking Hillary intensely, I have to agree with you. At best she was "animated," and I thought her reply was impressive.

But it's all politics, and what really happened doesn't matter nearly as much as what people think happened.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin! I followed the link from your blog, and I can't say it looked even remotely beyond the pale. That being said, she needs to move beyond repeating the word "change" so many times. She's changed so much, making so much change, 35 years of change. Maybe she doesn't understand what voters want a change from.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I neither like nor dislike Hillary, but her response was intelligent, articulate, and forceful, not 'emotional'.

Jeffery Hodges

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