January 22, 2008

"Bill Clinton "is rather a master of what one might call 'strategic emotion,' the use of tears or anger to comfort voters or intimidate the press."

Blogs Matthew Continetti at the NYT:
During his presidency Clinton lashed out at, among others, then-ABC White House correspondent Brit Hume in 1993; reporters who continued to raise questions about his involvement with Monica Lewinsky in 1998; and the Senate Republicans who rejected the 1999 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

These days the former president’s "outbursts" serve a dual purpose: they lend the impression that Senator Clinton is the insurgent running against the media-supported Obama, while also creating the illusion that it is the former president, not his wife, who is actually the candidate for the Democratic nomination. Far from hurting Senator Clinton — who also understands how to deploy strategic emotion, as we saw before the New Hampshire Democratic primary — former President Clinton effectively has rallied a coalition of Democrats to her cause.

55 comments:

George said...

Saw this bumpersticker recently on an older car...

I Miss Bill

rhhardin said...

Bill Clinton only a master of the soap opera women.

Which is what it takes to remain present in the media, who have that audience.

Middle Class Guy said...

What is lost in all of this is Bill Clinton’s background. As a young man, he was involved in rough and tumble Arkansas Democratic politics, which comes very close to Chicago politics. He was mentored by experts in political tactics. Love him or hate him, he is a master and manipulative politician. He is calculating. He has the ability to turn a negative, his anger, into a positive. He uses righteous anger to deflect criticism and defend positions, or in this case, Hillary. Bill also uses the fact that he is still well liked; he knows he can get away with it. He is very shrewd and astute. Selling him short is a big mistake.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Bill Clinton "is rather a master of what one might call 'strategic emotion,' the use of tears or anger to comfort voters or intimidate the press

In other words, he's an actor.

Then again so was Reagan whereas Reagan was a better president than he was an actor.

Pogo said...

Why do voters enjoy this obvious manipulation, much less support it with votes?

I ♥ Narcissists!

shadow said...

Bill's characterization of Obama's position on Iraq as a "fairy tale" was totally misleading and deceptive.

If he continues attacking Obama in the same way that he has recently, there's going to be a significant backlash. You've already seen it from some Democratic leaders.

It's one thing to be an advocate for your spouse and to emphasize the differences between the candidates; it's another to propogate shameless distortions, especially when Obama still refuses to get tangled up in personalities and keeps coming back to the issues.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I've heard it called a Clinton "purple rage."

Why doesn't some clever person do a song parody of Prince's "Purple Rain" and intersperse footage of Clinton turning colors and pointing that egregiously long finger?

P. Rich said...

Pogo said: "Why do voters enjoy this obvious manipulation, much less support it with votes?"

That is "Democratic" voters, of course. They not only elected Willie Drop Trou, they re-elected him. And, they will flock drooling to the polls in order to vote for his incompetent, angry, feminist socialist wife. So the obvious answer to the question is, because millions of people are incredibly stupid and easily manipulated. (That would be the defining characteristic of the Democratic base, and Dem pols go to great lengths to maintain this status quo.)

AJ Lynch said...

Any chance the country will wake up and realize Hillary is essentially the wife who looked the other way when her husband strayed.... and why should we respect her much less elect her?

Plus Bill ain't getting her any add'l votes with his red-faced tirades and serial truth-stretching. I don't care what some pundits say, Bill Clinton's anger is a turn off.

Doug said...

That is "Democratic" voters, of course. They not only elected Willie Drop Trou, they re-elected him. And, they will flock drooling to the polls in order to vote for his incompetent, angry, feminist socialist wife. So the obvious answer to the question is, because millions of people are incredibly stupid and easily manipulated. (That would be the defining characteristic of the Democratic base, and Dem pols go to great lengths to maintain this status quo.)

Except for the "wife" part, change "Democratic" to "Republican" and "Willie Drop Trou" to "Shrub," and it's still completely accurate. Even more so, I dare say.

peter hoh said...

Yeah, Clinton can rally a coalition of Democrats to his wife's cause, but at the cost of voters like me. Good luck in the general election, especially if McCain is the GOP nominee.

P. Rich: A coalition of Republican voters voted for Bush twice because he was a "real" conservative, and now they are off shopping for another guy who is a "real" conservative, having grown somewhat disillusioned by their current "real" conservative.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Any chance the country will wake up and realize Hillary is essentially the wife who looked the other way when her husband strayed.... and why should we respect her much less elect her?

Well when Hillary claims she was clueless that Bill was eating out rather than having dinner at home, she was either lying (probably) or if she is actually telling the truth, I don't want someone that stupid in the White House.

Trooper York said...

"Well when Hillary claims she was clueless that Bill was eating out rather than having dinner at home, she was either lying (probably) or if she is actually telling the truth, I don't want someone that stupid in the White House"

Should be:

Well when Hillary claims she was clueless that Bill was being eaten out rather than having dinner at home, she was either lying (probably) or if she is actually telling the truth, I don't want someone that stupid in the White House.

Fixed.

Zeb Quinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zeb Quinn said...

The enduring success of the Clinton mendacious schtick has been a puzzlement to me from the getgo. I tuned into 60 Minutes after the Super Bowl in 1992 genuinely curious and open. I didn't care for Bush 41 and I was looking for an alternative. In Clinton I saw the phoniest person I've ever seen on the national stage running for president. I never understood why so few others saw what I saw and weren't likewise repelled by him. I still don't.

AJ Lynch said...

Zeb don't feel bad.

I voted for Clinton in 1992, had never not voted for a Dem for president going back to 1972 so that means I voted for Humphrey in 1972, Carter in 1976, Mondale in 1980, Dukakis in 1984 and Clinton in 1992- looks like I am missing 1988? Bush Sr. vs. who?

Since 1992, I have not voted for a Dem for president. I skipped 1996 and voted Bush in 2000 and 2004.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"Bill Clinton "is rather a master of what one might call 'strategic emotion,' the use of tears or anger to comfort voters or intimidate the press."

He wasn't just the first Black President, he was also the first Woman President!

garage mahal said...

This blog has morphed into the Daily Dish.

Whaaaa! Mommy! Daddy! Hillary is winning! They like her!

I don't know what the Clintons are up to, but I know it's something. Here's a link to David Duke agreeing with me...

reader_iam said...

Re: Bill Clinton and emotion

1996.

Middle Class Guy said...

zeb quin said:
I never understood why so few others saw what I saw and weren't likewise repelled by him. I still don't.


They were "blinded by the light".

Paddy O. said...

"In Clinton I saw the phoniest person I've ever seen on the national stage running for president. I never understood why so few others saw what I saw and weren't likewise repelled by him. I still don't."

This is my exact impression of Huckabee. I just don't get it. Why can't people see through him.

Fortunately, it looks like he, at least, has run to the end of his road, and enough people are seeing through him.

Henry said...

If the Clintons so malign Obama as to make it impossible for them to select him as Hillary's running mate, or to make it impossible for him to accept the offer, then the Democrats will lose across the board in November.

Clinton is a master political tactician and tactics are what matter in a survive and advance primary. He's useful for now, when Pyrhhic victories must be won.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Dick Morris has an interesting take: Hillary deliberately raised her public profile in 1992 to attract fire and relieve some of the criticism of Bill. Now, Bill is trying to play the same role for Hillary.

Middle Class Guy said...

If Dick Morris did not have an ax to grind with the Clinotn's, he could be taken seriously. They through him under the bus after he worked for them- ala Karl Rove- because of a sex scandal.

Then after he rehabs his image, voila, he is a Conservative attack dog. I do not think so. Morris is an opportunist, just like the Clintons.

Joseph Hovsep said...

middle class guy, Fair criticism. I wouldn't take him too seriously, but the theory is interesting and clever.

Zeb Quinn said...

I believe Morris claims that he personally has always been a conservative and a Repub, and that he worked for Bill Clinton who was always quite moderate, that he never worked for Hillary, and that Hillary of the two is the liberal.

tituswhore said...

I was supportive of Bill Clinton in the 90's and had a great deal of respect for what he has done since he left office.

But since the election my thoughts have turned. His anger and rage right before the New Hampshire and Nevada contests were disgusting.

It seems like the Clintons only want to win and if they can't win the democrat nomination they don't want anyone to get it and would rather have a republican as president.

I had dinner with a few friends over the past weekend who shared their disgust with how Bill Clinton is acting recently.


We have all decided to vote for Obama and have reservations voting for Hilary if she gets the democratic nomination-because of the way Bill and she have handled themselves in this campaign. If Mccain is the republican candidate I would likely vote for him over Hilary.

D said...

Pogo asked:

Why do voters enjoy this obvious manipulation, much less support it with votes?

Earl Long (Huey's brother) said the people of Louisiana "don't want good government, they want good entertainment."

PatHMV said...

AJ... Carter ran in both '76 and in '80 (won the first, lost the second). Reagan ran for reelection against Mondale in 1984, and Bush 41 ran against Dukakis in 1988.

ben said...

A coalition of Republican voters voted for Bush twice because he was a "real" conservative, and now they are off shopping for another guy who is a "real" conservative, having grown somewhat disillusioned by their current "real" conservative.

You didn't pay attention to the 2000 elections and you're sound asleep right now. Bush never ran on being a solid conservative. He presented himself as being centrist enough to appeal to the left which is where his compassionate conservatism came from. We've got a real conservative in the primaries right now, Thompson, and he's been third place the whole time. McCain, who is probably a bit to the left of Bush, is the front runner.

The problems with Bush have little to do with ideology. On domestic affairs, he tried too hard to make nice with the Dems, he never used his veto pen and he didn't fire people who needed firing. His ideology has generally gotten us good things like some great justices on the SCOTUS. In foreign affairs, I'm not so judgmental because there's really no way to know how well someone can do as CIC when you're electing them.

Tex the Pontificator said...

A.J. Lynch says "I voted for Humphrey in 1972." Actually, the Democratic nominee in '72 was McGovern--alas.

submandave said...

henry, I, too, think the Clinton-Obama combination would be quite formidable in November. As for myself, however, should Obama choose to play second banana to the harsh, manipulative, phoney-baloney Clinton machine he will forfeit whatever respect he has earned from me.

I'm sure he's not loosing sleep over that posibility, but those are my feelings, for what it's worth.

Meade said...

"We've got a real conservative in the primaries right now, Thompson, and he's been third place the whole time"

Ben: I think you need to turn on NPR.

Chip Ahoy said...

What a strange thing to print, "Bill is rather a master.." the day after world-wide distribution of video of his falling asleep behind an important speaker. It's risible. That there's a word I learned from the internet. I question the timing. That's another thing I picked up. What if that had been Bush who fell asleep? Would they print the next day a profile on Bush with the word master in it? That yet another thing that comes from hanging about places like this.

Oh wait, this thread is about something in a NYT blog -- uh, OK -- The puzzle today was about the Daily Planet. I learned something; there was a person named Elizabeth, and also somebody named either Adam or Eve. That is all.

John Thacker said...

Some Democrats are, it seems, learning a large part of why many Republicans disliked Clinton so much. It was not, to any great extent, policy-- his policies and actions were in many ways quite moderate, even on push-button issues dear to the Democratic base. Few environmental regulations were proposed (certainly no more than have been under Bush), there was no federal funding for fetal stem cell research, he rejected the land mine ban in the unilateral American way, etc. True, in many cases there were regulations announced or timed to go into effect right when President Clinton departed office or was a lame duck, but during his actual presidency little was done. That allows one to debate "sincerity" and what "he really wanted" versus concerns of getting re-elected, but the gulf between his actual policies and those of the current President have really been slight, particularly his post 1994 policies. Some of his greatest celebrated successes involved compromising with Republicans and doing things certainly to the right of what his party (and definitely his base) wanted, whether on NAFTA or welfare reform.

In both cases certainly there has been a "rally around our guy" effect that made people excuse things that would be unacceptable in a member of the other party.

John Thacker said...

What is obvious from the Democratic debate is how quickly the Democratic candidates are running away from Clinton's policy. Even Obama is being forced to abandon his strategic ambiguity (largely as a result of intra-party attacks) in order to appeal to the base, as witnessed by his attacks on NAFTA in the debate. This thread may well not be a bellweather, but surely leaving the Clinton policies open for a McCain to run on could be a strong political mistake.

SGT Ted said...

It's a good thing that lots of his former supporters are finally getting that Clinton is a simple bullshit artist on steroids. Since he doesn't have the media in his corner, he is getting the kind of exposure that would have kept him to one term had news coverage like this happened during his Presidency.

rjschwarz said...

Why do voters fall for this type of stuff? Because the bulk of the voters don't really pay attention to retractions and corrections. Ask the NY Times.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

John Thacker:

Don't confuse anyone here with facts. That just won't do in 2008! Run with your emotions. Let them go wild. Tell us all about your nightmares or fantasies or whatever... Repeat as needed. No charge for the therapy. Really! It was a pleasure to be of assistance. Any time. Day or night. We're here.

AlphaLiberal said...

When I snore, it's not so much a "zzzzzzz" as a "ggggggggggggg."

ggggggggggggggggggggggg

Rocker 419 said...

Well, get used to it. Over 60% of all women, the Hispanics (some of them legal), older Democrats and hald the blacks will make sure she gets in, if only to "make some history." God help us all...

former law student said...

A.J. Lynch says "I voted for Humphrey in 1972." Actually, the Democratic nominee in '72 was McGovern--alas.

But Humphrey was a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 1972 -- maybe that's when A.J. voted for him.

If Eagleton had only been up front about his electroshock therapy... what an idiot.

From Inwood said...

AJL

FYI For the Dems For POTUS,

Humphrey ran in '68

MCGov ran in 72,

Carter ran in '76 & again, as a sitting POTUS, in '80,

Mondale ran in '84, &

Dukakis ran in '88.

From Inwood said...

Pogo

You ask:

Why do voters enjoy this obvious manipulation, much less support it with votes?

How about

You can fool all the people some of the time & some of the people all the time & two outta three ain't bad.

Peano said...

Bill Clinton "is rather a master of what one might call 'strategic emotion,' the use of tears or anger to comfort voters or intimidate the press

"In other words," said Hoosier Daddy, "he's an actor."

Yes, but with this difference. Actors, by definition, are manipulators who tug at our emotions. But what motivates them?

Reagan was motivated by a set of core principles that he genuinely believed in.

Bill Clinton is motivated by nothing of the kind. He never in his life believed in any core principles. He is a narcissist and an opportunist to the marrow.

AlphaLiberal said...

Yeah, Bill Clinton is the first and last pol to have a temper. Uh-huh. Right.

Ask John McCain about tempers some time. Oh, I forgot. A Republican temper is a great thing and a real sign of passion and belief.

A Democratic temper is a bad sign.

It's always good for the Republicans and bad for Democrats.

Our dumb political life.

AlphaLiberal said...

"Bill Clinton is motivated by nothing of the kind. He never in his life believed in any core principles. He is a narcissist and an opportunist to the marrow."

Hate much?

Pogo said...

Hate much?

Describing a jungle cat's murderous ways do not imply at all any hatred for the thing. Same with Bill. He appears to lack a conscience, or does not employ the vestigial remnant of conscience he may retain to any useful effect.

I don't hate the man.
I do wish he'd leave the stage.
And take his harridan harpy with him.

garage mahal said...

(John) Rocker 419...
Well, get used to it. Over 60% of all women, the Hispanics (some of them legal), older Democrats and hald the blacks will make sure she gets in, if only to "make some history." God help us all...

And on top of that don't forget all the women and black people running Congress now. Yikes! So much for that permanent majority.....what the hell happened?

Theo Boehm said...

I agree with a lot of what's been written here, especially with John Thacker.  Bill Clinton's policies were generally quite moderate and centerist.  Those of us in the middle never had a problem with Clinton policies. John Thacker nicely characterizes them.

No, it's Bill Clinton I object to.  I had Zeb Quinn's reaction exactly to Bill Clinton.  He represented a type of smart phoney I thought we all had encountered in college, and I couldn't understand how people couldn't see through him.  My wife later pointed out that he also represented a type—the leering sexual harasser—that she had encountered in her post-Fletcher School years when she worked for the State Department and the EPA.

I had been leaning toward Hillary. But seeing Bill looming in the background, not to mention my rather liberal wife's outrage at Mrs. Clinton, have now convinced me that we don't need any more of this particular circus.

The next President is going to be fairly constrained, policy-wise, so I don't see it as the end of the Republic if Mrs. Clinton is elected.  It's just that I'm going to have to spend at least 4 years wondering why we have yet another flawed, backward-looking President, when we might have had someone, in the person of Obama, who at least offered the possibility of a fresh beginning.  I won't be the only one wondering that.

If we want flawed and backward-looking, I think I'd take Giuliani over Mrs. Clinton.  At least I can stand to listen to Rudy, and I don't have the impression that every word out of his mouth is a manipulative lie.  They may very well be, but at least he does a good job pretending to be candid, which is more than you can say about either of the Clintons.

Revenant said...

Ask John McCain about tempers some time. Oh, I forgot. A Republican temper is a great thing and a real sign of passion and belief.

Oh, yeah, because Republicans love McCain. They just can't get enough of that little rascal.

rcocean said...

"P. Rich: A coalition of Republican voters voted for Bush twice because he was a "real" conservative, and now they are off shopping for another guy who is a "real" conservative, having grown somewhat disillusioned by their current "real" conservative."

And most of these Republicans support McCain, Rudy, or Huckabee, none of whom are even as conservative as Bush!

Stupidity thy name is Republican.

Revenant said...

I voted for Bush in 2004 because Kerry was worse, not because I thought he was a "real conservative". I suspect most Republican voters had similar reasons for supporting him in 2000.

Rowsella said...

It has occurred to me that the Clintons will have their Howard Dean moment. Bill Clinton surely finds it quite impossible to get through an entire campaign without publicly humiliating his wife. I am certain he cannot handle his wife being top dawg (president) without himself securing a position like UN director.

Also, if HRC is elected, what does that say to our young women? I'd have more respect for her if she had divorced him and then run for Senate and on to the presidency than campaigning on his record. Barack was absolutely right when he said he is running against the both of them.

The Clintons don't lack courage and bravado, they lack integrity.

John said...

rcocean
Stupidity thy name is Republican.

...stupidity would be democratic primary voters, such as your self, that pretend they provide input toward the nominee...

Must feel good to have all the real decisions made by the grownups (i.e. superdelegates) at the convention.

...kind of like a child riding in the back seat spinning their toy steering wheel.