9:51 — A mother who brought her 5 children to the debate asks a question, in Spanish (translated by a moderator), about the fact that her husband has been deported and can't see his family. Of course, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both say they're committed to stopping that kind of thing from happening. But Sanders's answer is relatively vague. Clinton gives a stronger answer, not just because she gives more policy specifics, but also because she starts by connecting with the woman on a more emotional level, praising her for her bravery: "This is an incredible act of courage that I'm not sure many people really understand." Clinton seems to have sharply observed her husband in a famous moment in one of the general-election debates in 1992, when incumbent President Bush gave a weak answer to a woman who asked about the national debt, and then Bill Clinton connected with the questioner in a way Bush hadn't.Here's that fateful 1992 vignette, which begins with H.W. Bush looking at his watch:
Ironically, a few minutes later, [Hillary] Clinton candidly admits: "I am not a natural politician, in case you haven't noticed, like my husband or President Obama. . . ."
The debate live-blogging came from my son John, who posted that particular bit on Facebook, where I responded:
Watching that clip again, I'm pained by that woman's disrespect for President Bush. She's interrupting him, prodding him to answer the question her way. Bill Clinton then swanned into his hokey role. It made great political theater, with the help of a press that didn't have the internet to show how things look from different perspectives. Hillary knows the lesson from 1992 and she's always looking for a way to show empathy. But to me, she's more like HW Bush, who's famous for saying "Message: I care."Like H.W. Bush, Hillary doesn't have the kind of human feeling — real or fake — that oozes out naturally
I just want to show a little empathy for the politicians who offer their services to us even though they know they don't light our fire. There's no reason to think that those who heat us up are going to do a better job when confined to the White House endlessly force-fed information and pressured into continual decisionmaking. It's okay, it's perfectly fine not to be a natural politician, and I liked her left-handed compliment to Bill and Barack.
We don't need an entertainer in the Oval Office and maybe we shouldn't even want one.