January 5, 2008

Why was Hillary booed twice in New Hampshire?

Time's Jay Newton-Small writes:
The first time was when she said she has always and will continue to work for "change for you.["] The audience, particularly from Obama supporters (they were waving Obama signs) let out a noise that sounded like a thousand people collectively groaning. The second time came a few minutes later when Clinton said: "The there [sic] are two big questions for voters in New Hampshire. One is: who will be ready to lead from day one? The second," and here Clinton was forced to pause as boos from the crowd mixed with cheers from her own supporters. "Is who can we nominate who will go the distance against the Republicans?”
Could Time blog a little better? This piece fails to say when this dinner took place. And: "If the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s 100 Club dinner is any bell weather – Barack Obama will handily win here." Bell weather? One reason to avoid trite phrases is that you may have no idea what image you are invoking:
It is not entirely wrong to say bell weather, although it is certainly an archaism, "weather" having been used by Shakespeare and having died in the 19th century. It describes the sheep, usually a ram, castrated but hung (speaking of irony) with a bell to lead the flock.

Of course, we prefer bellwether (and without a hyphen). Very well, we insist upon it. This is what our style guide says: "bellwether - sheep that leads the herd; customarily misspelt, misused, or both".
So if you meant to compare New Hampshire to a castrated ram with a bell around its neck, well then, fine. Perhaps you intended a reference to Shakespeare:
First, an intollerable fright, to be detected with a iealious rotten Bell-weather: Next to be compass'd like a good Bilbo in the circumference of a Pec ke, hilt to point, heele to head. And then to be stopt in like a strong distillation with stinking Cloathes, that fretted in their owne grease: thinke of that, a man of my Kidney; thinke of that, that am as subiect to heate as butter; a man of continuall dissolution, and thaw: it was a miracle to scape suffocation. And in the height of this Bath (when I was more then halfe stew'd in grease (like a Dutch-dish) to be throwne into the Thames, and coold, glowing-hot, in that serge like a Horse-shoo; thinke of that; hissing hot: thinke of that (Master Broome.)
If you were thinking of Shakespeare, well, then, I'm really iealious of your erudition.

So let's turn to Jonathan V. Last of The Weekly Standard for a better report of that dinner:
Twenty-four hours after finishing their brawl in Iowa, the Democratic candidates are all in the same room together to speak at the New Hampshire Democratic party's 100 Club dinner....

There are 3,500 ticket-holders in attendance, theoretically from the full spectrum of party regulars. And whenever Obama's name is mentioned, they go insane--shouting, chanting, holding up small round "O" signs....

[Hillary Clinton] gets a long standing ovation to start.

But a few minutes into her speech she trots out her standard line about how "some people think you get change by demanding it and some people think you get change by hoping for it" (a dig at Edwards and Obama)--there's actually some booing. It throws her off. After starting the speech upbeat and sunny, she becomes a bit brittle. The response from the audience gets fainter with each applause line until you can actually see the Obama supporters sitting on their hands, their "O" signs resting on their laps.

"We have to pick a president who is ready on day one," she says, to muted applause from her small contingent. The Obama crowd then waves their signs and begins chanting "Obama! Obama!" while she keeps speaking. It's a tense moment and Clinton seems rattled by it.
I was saying yesterday that it seems as though Hillary has already showed us every possible permutation and that there is no way now for her to come up with anything new. But getting booed — to her face, anyway — puts her in a new place. She might find some new way to play off that. You can build a reputation on booing.

42 comments:

Bob said...

It's a free country, and people are realizing it's possible to play McMurphy to Hillary's Nurse Ratched, because she doesn't have the power at this point to clear the halls of her detractors, the way that Bush does for "security reasons" at his appearances.

AllenS said...

Change has been an Obama line. Now Hillary has been saying something like "I've been working for change for 35 years." I don't think that will sell. Somebody is going to ask her to name a couple of those changes. This is getting interesting.

Meade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George said...

Speaking of less-than-stellar national reporters (like Time's blogger), I nominate Amanda Carpenter, age 25, for the 2008 Jimmy Olsen Needs-More-Supervision Prize.

Her column (which I won't link to) consists of recounting the overheard dinner chat of a political consultant at a "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant with an unidentified "blonde female...companion."

She even describes what they're eating--"tuna melt and carrot cake" for the man, "marbled rye" bread which the "female companion picked at."

Instead of insinuating in print that the pair were at a secretive rendezvous and the woman was someone other than the man's wife, the young reporter could have identified herself, saying that she could not help but overhear the conversation. Then she could have gotten most or all of the info, attributed it to a "high campaign source," and begun to cultivate a good source upon whom she could rely on in years to come.

Instead, she's blown her trust. What campaign official would now talk with her in private or not for attribution? But she'll still look pretty on TV, and that's what's important.

Meade said...

"You can build a reputation on booing."

I think you may be on to something:

Knock, knock
Who's there?
Obooma
Obooma hoo?
Boomer Sister, stop crying and step aside, your ass has become evitable.

Meade said...

I mean uninevitable

Richard Fagin said...

It sure is possible to build a reputation from being booed. The booers have to be identified as the bad guys in one way or another, and the person being booed has to position himself as standing up to the bad guy booers. Rudy Giuliani did a masterful job of standing up to being booed by The New York Times. Unfortunately for Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama has done a masterful job of standing up to her!

Middle Class Guy said...

I just saw a clip of Hillary Clinton. She asks the following:
"What is it you want to know about us?"

Of course she will never answer the question.

Doug said...

Hillary should have used the Spinal Tap excuse for getting booed, played it off as "They were still booing Obama when I got on stage"

Crimso said...

"because she doesn't have the power at this point to clear the halls of her detractors, the way that Bush does for "security reasons" at his appearances."

I sure hope you're being sarcastic, otherwise the bros may have to tase you.

Donald Douglas said...

The picture of Hillary at Time was revealing - now that was the toll of the campaign - uninevitable...

EnigmatiCore said...

At the start of the campaign, I considered backing Hillary. She seemed responsible with the war on terror and likely to be a moderating influence on her party.

Plus, I guess I have some of that gender guilt that is akin to the white guilt ZPS lectured me about yesterday.

But it did not take long for me to tire of the things I had long since put out of my mind about the Clintons-- the way they play a brutal brand of politics while constantly moaning about how unfairly they are treated is yet another example. But the real back breaker was Hsu.

So it is gratifying to me to see her being slowly rejected. And I am further gratified that it seems that she is being rejected for Obama, rather than the phony Edwards and his cynical, divisive populism.

EnigmatiCore said...

Just... wow. Clinton's staff going after Obama for being too liberal.

I know that there has to be a lot of concern for Obama's appeal to moderates in a state like NH that has open primaries and a lot of independents, but it hardly seems smart, to me, for a candidate in a Democratic primary to attack in quite that manner.

It would be like Giuliani going after McCain for being too conservative.

It seems... desperate.

Holy cow! That's it! The Clintons have become characters who belong on Wisteria Lane.

Bissage said...

I feel kind of sorry for Hillary. There’s nothing quite so monstrous as getting booed twice. What were they serving at that dinner, anyway?

AllenS said...

Crow.

Middle Class Guy said...

When Obama took the stage after Hillary the crowd of three thousand roared and jumped to their feet.

Hillary has been working for change for thirty five years. She finally made money when Bill hit the White House and she could write books.

former law student said...

her standard line about how "some people think you get change by demanding it and some people think you get change by hoping for it"

Going negative is seldom attractive. Unless your crowd supports you 100%, you can't say something like that without sounding bitchy.

PatCA said...

She is just unprepared as a candidate. Bill had the gift, but she doesn't, and she has not prepared herself for real competition and the international spotlight. Her First Lady credentials are obviously not enough.

Oh, the media are going to have a ball.

BumperStickerist said...

I guess, given the danger she just faced, Hillary's private jet will have to do a corkscrew landing at their next campaign stop.

Or maybe the motorcade will start serpentining their way into the parking lot.


fwiw, not to go all Language Maven here, but it's "bellwether" as in a "castrated ram with a bell around its neck so that the sheep can follow it" not "bell weather"

BumperStickerist said...

then again, judging from the location of the closing quotation mark and your use of the question mark, you knew that already.

SteveR said...

julibeth
There's still a good chance she gets the nomination. It would be nice if it happened by her elevating her game (assuming that's possible). But going negative is more likely. If she's going to trot out the 35 year thing she's should be careful about calling someone too liberal.

hdhouse said...

No one likes booing. Its rude and boorish. Obama should take a high road right now and ask firmly for partisans to stop it.

this isn't Bush League.

Windbag said...

Only twice? Merciful lot in that room.

Trooper York said...

In 1972 Allard Lowenstein an ultra-liberal ran in a primary against John J. Rooney a conversative house member backed by the Democratic regulars. The guys in the clubhouse paid a bunch of us neighborhood kids to bust Lowensteins balls in all of his events in the district. The highlight was were the nerdy candidate tried to ride in a white convertable up Cout St. We followed and threw tomatoes and eggs as he tried to duck and wave. Ah yes, machine politics, how I miss it. Good times.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

No one likes booingIts rude and boorish. Obama should take a high road right now and ask firmly for partisans to stop it.

HD... this is excellent advice.

While I can't stand Hillary and get a warm rush of schadenfreude, when I read of these things, you are quite correct in that it would elevate Obama far above the cesspool that politics has become.

tightspotkilo said...

Booing might be necessary to drive the point home to Hillary that she's yesterday's news. And that's really the question. Is she or isn't she now yesterday's news?

Gedaliya said...

There's still a good chance she gets the nomination.

No there isn't. She's finished politically.

Bruce Hayden said...

This is an interesting subject. Let me suggest that booing is likely much more effective against Hillary! than against most candidates. Liberal crazies booing Republicans can be dismissed as liberal crazies doing what liberal crazies do. But Hillary! is trying, at least to some extent, for their votes. And this shows how out of touch she is with them.

Of course, if she were to speak truth to power, and have a Sister Souljah moment, it might work to here advantage. But if she doesn't, then I suspect it will work to portray her to her disadvantage.

former law student said...

Obama should take a high road right now and ask firmly for partisans to stop it.

I don't see how he asks that in a crowded room with all the candidates without it seeming like he thinks "the little lady" can't take care of herself, or implying that he's in control of the crowd and Hillary is not.

Meade said...

gedaliya said...
There's still a good chance she gets the nomination.

No there isn't. She's finished politically.

I'm not so sure. There's still time for her to run Plan B:

"I think most Democrats know me. They understand that my support for the war was always insincere."

Worked for Edwards.

PatCA said...

It was politically dumb to make a speech one night after O's big victory using the same old veiled digs. The O'ers were on a victory high; a smart pol could have seen it, and the best of them would have fed off it and unleashed a diatribe against, say, Bush instead of the guy they came to see that night. She looked out of the loop, and a little small.

She is just not a very good politician.

Meade said...

As usual, PatCA is quite correct.

Okay then, here's Hillary's Plan C:

Dump Bill and start sending the Big O flirtatious emails.

Demonstrate your superior experience in the kitchen. Challenge Michelle to a cookie bake-off. Test her ability to stand by her man.

Start speaking in ebonics every time a crown starts to boo. How dare they!

Garner the youth vote by promising to tap Chelsea as your running mate and to then resign.

hdhouse said...

---by standing up and saying "stop it"...you can do that you know if it isn't directed at you...

you don't have to say "stop booing her" you say "stop acting like children". tell them to stop. be firm, not friendly, not good-natured, just demand that they stop right now.

a president has to do a lot of things. on occasion he/she will have to look someone in the eye and say that is not acceptable and cut it out.

training starts now.

Meade said...

crowd

Trooper York said...

When Hugh Carey was the Congressman in Park Slope before he became governor, he used to help the Boy Scouts arrange a trip to Washington DC every year. The Five Bridges district (Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook) would load up busses and get to sleep at the army base in Fort Meade as we visited the sights in DC. But some of the older guys also helped out the Congressman in his campaigns. You know ringing door bells, helping old people to the polls, copying names off the gravestones to register new voters, tearing down opposition signs, disrupting campaign appearances at the subway stop. All coordinated with the Brooklyn machine. Ah, machine politics how I miss it. Good times.

John Stodder said...

I remember "being booed" working very well for a candidate. In one of her races either for senator or governor, Dianne Feinstein told the state Democratic convention that she favored the death penalty. This was before Dems got so execution-happy. Anyway, when she said that, the convention-goers booed her. She took that clip and turned it into an ad, and she ended up winning the nomination. (Not sure if it was for governor, which she ultimately lost to Pete Wilson, or for senator, which she won.)

So if Hillary wants to use the "go ahead, boo me" approach, she has to say something that most voters agree with but Democratic activists don't. That way, she might get some of Obama's more conservative independent voters to give her another look.

If I were advising Hillary, that would be my theme. Make Obama seem like the PC candidate, while she's the honest candidate. Don't do this "tested, ready from day one" crap. Instead, do the Sister Souljah approach, on steroids. Say, "I'm proud of my vote to invade Iraq. The Middle East will be a better place." Say, "we need to increase defense spending to ensure we are ready to stop these crazy jihadis." Say there's no such thing a free lunch. She has no choice but to differentiate herself from Obama based on ideas and beliefs. If she does it on personal qualities like experience or electability, she is deader than dead.

Dave said...

I don't know why anyone would have ever thought Hillary is a 'good' candidate. Can you show me a single instance in which the did the unexpected, but 'right' thing? (in her one and a half campaigns or either of Bill's two?) That's the mark of a good candidate. Her campaign for Senator against Giuliani had hardly started when he dropped out, and she steamrolled (not campaigned) to victory.

The nomination was hers only when she didn't have to work to get it. Now that she obviously must work to get it we'll find out if she's a 'good' candidate.

Hillary doesn't seem to do well in competitive situations. She's not 'adaptive'. She campaigns like the old Soviet bureaucracy farmed -- build the perfect plan and keep working it whether you're reaching your goal or not.

John Stodder said...

Well of course that's the thing with her. She's the least imaginative politician I can remember. Her master stroke in NY was her "listening tour," which of course required her to say nothing.

Usually, intelligent people are also interesting to listen to at some level. It's amazing that media types thought Gore was dull. Gore is Bob Dylan compared with HRC.

Trooper York said...

I remmeber when Tom Cutie was the majority leader of the City Council in the 1970's. He represented Park Slope and Windsor Terrace but always made the communion breakfasts and K of C functions in Carroll Gardens. He was a gentleman of the old school. But if you had a problem with the city bureaucracy, you just called him and doors magically opened and things got done. No fuss, no muss, no bullshit. Anything from a zoning adjustment, to a liquor license, to a water bill, to a job with the city. That is the way the city should work. It’s not what you know, but who you know. Of course that was when the Irish were running things. Ah, machine politics how much I miss it. Good times.

Fen said...

Nice work Team Obama. I can't wait for the editorial cartoon of the Wicked Witch melting.

PatCA said...

Why, thank you, Meade!

Trooper York said...

In 1990 Clarence Norman Jr. became head of the Brooklyn machine which completed the take over of Democratic politics in Brooklyn by African Americans. There was still one stop shopping, but it was only fair that people of color be first in line as it was their turn just as it was in Chicago when Harold Washington took over. But Clarence didn't have the deft touch of such masters as Harold Golden and Meade Esposito. He was indicted and convicted of receiving illegal campaign contributions. I guess he didn't know that proper choice wasn't plastic, but rather the brown paper bag. Ah, machine politics, how I miss them done right. Good times.