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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

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    Hillary Clinton and “Iron My Shirt”

    By Kyle | April 20, 2008

    Over at Hillaryland, there isn’t much left to do except try to convince history that her campaign was killed by sexism. Good luck with that one, folks.

    PUMPING IRON
    By KYLE SMITH

    April 20, 2008 — Can you hear it? The excuse is being chiseled into stone over at Hillaryland. She and the titanium-plated Clinton political machine are not getting trounced by a gaffe-prone rookie who has never run so much as a candy store because she has turned out to be even more gaffe-prone, with a side order of sleaze.

    She isn’t losing because she was beaten at ground-level tactics and caucus-wrangling. She isn’t losing because of her uninspiring speeches or because she voted for the war in Iraq.

    No, her “Swift Boat,” her “Willie Horton,” her escutcheon of victimization is: “Iron my shirt.” The Hillary for President campaign doesn’t have much left to do except lobby for the inscription it wants on its tombstone, so it is asking us to accept this one: Killed by Sexism.

    According to this Hillarymyth, millions of Democrats suddenly turned sexist sometime between November of 2007 (when she had a 22-point lead) and February of 2008, when Barack Obama ran off 11 straight victories in primaries and caucuses. (Obama had four campaign offices in Vermont to zero for her and eleven offices in Wisconsin to four for her. He won these states by 21 and 17 points respectively.)

    When some loopy guy at a Hillary Clinton rally in New Hampshire in January held up a sign and yelled, “Iron my shirt!,” it was funny on two grounds: absurdity of concept (Hillary Clinton in hausfrau mode is about as ridiculous an image as Mike Dukakis, Tank Commander) and incongruence of setting (wacky guy with sign interrupting Solemn Political Speech is like Borat at the rodeo). A rule of funny is: funny doesn’t care who it offends. Once the laugh happens, you can’t repeal it with a stern rebuke from the duly authorized human rights subcommittee. All you can do is be funnier in return.

    Here is how Mrs. Clinton replied: “Oh, the remnants of sexism are alive and well.” Translation: how unfair of you to mock me! Wild applause, from an audience of the easily offended.

    It was an important moment, but not because it showed evil forces surrounding Mrs. Clinton. It showed what she lacked inside.

    She could have turned around her campaign in one line if she had instead come back with a zinger (how about, “Zip your fly?”). That would have shown the world a new side of her: quick, freewheeling, playful, spontaneous, human. Instead she turned on her Cybotronic 2000 Offense Detector with Mirthocidal Ray-Gun. Like her vote for the war, it was a short-term calculation that wound up hurting her in the fullness of time. Because the only part of the speech that anyone will ever remember is the heckle.

    To respond to a joke with a joke didn’t occur to her because Hillary Clinton is not funny. When she tries to be, the results are painful (when she pathetically said Obama was all about “Change you can Xerox,” the line felt as natural as Neil Diamond opening for Eminem).

    Barack Obama isn’t funny either (I’ll write about that some other time) but he doesn’t have any difficulty connecting with audiences or seeming real. He also doesn’t duck. One reason that Democrats think he is a better carrier for the same ideas Clinton promotes is that he stands fast rather than curling into a ball when under fire. (Another is that, being, in national political terms, only four years old, he hasn’t been around long enough to take many hits. Yet.) Whenever the victim walks into the discussion, the whiner and the loser are not far behind. Obama senses this. The other day, a citizen asked whether he felt being called “elitist” (race-neutral) was just a way of being called “uppity” (possibly racist). Obama declined to take the bait, even under cover of the coded word. Should he lose in November, of course, Democrats will blame his defeat on racism. Obama, if he wants to be considered a viable prospect for another run in the future, will not encourage them.

    “The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear” imagined what history’s Loser’s Lounge would look like: It was decorated with photos of the Hindenburg, the Titanic, the Edsel and Mike Dukakis. Blaming the victim like this is vicious, unfair, and hilarious. It’s the American way.

    Topics: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, News, Politics | 38 Comments »

    38 Responses to “Hillary Clinton and “Iron My Shirt””

    1. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      April 20th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

      Of course it has been killed by sexism. The US is one of the most misogynistic countries in the world. I have lived in many countries but never anywhere that has such a general fear and mistrust of women.

    2. ANON Says:
      April 20th, 2008 at 8:58 pm

      Drivel.

    3. jic Says:
      April 20th, 2008 at 10:17 pm

      Can you give some examples?

    4. Patrick Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 2:14 am

      Yes, we are only slightly better than Saudi Arabia in the way women are treated.

    5. Patrick Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 2:27 am

      I’m still not convinced Hillary doesn’t get the nomination. Obama has more implosion potential with all of his questionable associations, and the democrats’ delegate rules are apparently there are no rules. I expect some serious arm twisting to go on at that convention. (I live in denver, I’m hopeful we have some colorful demonstrations.)

    6. Ken Bendor Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 9:10 am

      So you’re saying EVERY country (other than Saudi Arabia) treats women better than this one does, Patrick? REALLY???

    7. Christian Toto Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 11:08 am

      Aw, did Hunter jump the shark?

    8. Patrick Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 11:31 am

      That was intended as sarcasm in reply to the gross exaggeration from Hunter. Sometimes that doesn’t come through in print, does it. Really, in person you would have laughed.

    9. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 1:53 pm

      Christian, I had to look up the phrase “jump the shark” as it wasn’t in my Brewers. It makes no sense in this context. My opening observation needs neither qualification nor elaboration, being an opinion based upon my own personal experience.

    10. jic Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 1:57 pm

      Well, why don’t you relate some of the experiences that helped you for your opinion?

    11. jic Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 1:58 pm

      That should read ‘helped you form your opinion’.

    12. Christian Toto Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 2:45 pm

      Jump the shark is a great line/quote/saying, Hunter. It means something that was once interesting, but not so much now.

      Women in America aren’t nearly as persecuted as you attest … and Hillary was far and away the leader of the pack six months ago. Did the entire nation suddenly regress over the last six months? Or did we simply see her as a lousy candidate compared to the charismatic Obama?

      Isn’t hating America exhausting? To your credit, I think you live in England. I find people who despise the U.S., but still live here and enjoy all its benefits, amazing to behold.

    13. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 2:50 pm

      I don’t hate America. I live here. I find the whole “if you don’t love absolutely everything there is about the USA you’re a jerk” attitude patronizing, asinine and borderline fascist.

      As for Obama, I’ve never believed a single word that has come out of his mouth. I find him laughable.

    14. Bearette24 Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 3:22 pm

      I like the US and wouldn’t say it’s the most misogynistic country in the world, but Hunter has a point. You can enjoy the US and still see room for improvement. Also, last time I checked:

      1) The US does not have great maternity leave policies. Sweden and many other countries are leaving us in the dust in this regard.

      2) Men make more than women per hour for the same work.

      3) No glass ceiling for men.

      4) Lots of extremely misogynistic porn out there.

    15. Christian Toto Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 3:43 pm

      I use the ‘love it or leave it’ refrain for extreme US bashers for a simple reason — if you loathe a country that much, why would you stay? Sorta dumb, doncha think? THere’s a whole world out there … pick a country.

      But thanks for flying the fascist flag … utterly predictable of you. Yawn. The facts Bearette brings up are thought-provoking, but they doesn’t point to ‘misogyny’ … that word equates such policies based on hatred. And last time I checked, women could vote and could help install pols who could do something about these inequities.

      And Hunter .. you don’t believe anything coming out of Obama’s mouth? Then you must adore the truth-tellin’ Hillary …

    16. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 3:57 pm

      I can’t vote for either of them, but if I could I would vote for Mrs. Clinton. I don’t know if “adore” is the right word, but she certainly seems to have a self-deprecating sense of humour, which goes a long way with me. She is also demonstrably more intelligent, tougher and better at debate than Obama. As for honesty, it is not a quality one looks for in a politician: it is like looking for a good cop who is also a dab hand at origami.

    17. spongeworthy Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 4:25 pm

      Tremayne is getting so good at ringing in First! with some over-the-top drivel like the US is the most misogynist country and no children are killed with guns in Britain–all total B.S.–that I think he’s pulling our legs. He’s like a parody of the underinformed but over-opinionated Euro-lefty.

    18. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 5:38 pm

      While you are the very paradigm of the ill-informed and xenophobic rightwing fundie fruitcake. See? I can be just as rude as you can! Huzzah for me!

    19. jic Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 7:32 pm

      “4) Lots of extremely misogynistic porn out there.”

      Have you ever seen the filth that comes out of ‘progressive’ Europe?

    20. johnA. Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 7:49 pm

      “The US is one of the most misogynistic countires in the world”.

      This is a perfectly valid observation.

      Why did it take so long for women to be allowed to participate in the political sysytem? Why were women deemed ‘not intelligent enough’ to make decisions? Why was it illegal for groups of women to meet, organize and protest against unfair treatment? Why were the Feminist Movement and the Civil Rights Movement seen as threats to the “status quo”? Why were women denied their Constitutional rights for most of our nation’s history? Why were women not allowed to attend colleges and universities? Why couldn’t women serve their country in military service? Why were women prohibited from being doctors, lawyers, college professors, accountants, soldiers, or business owners? Why couldn’t women own land or a house without a husband?

      The list goes on.

      Being critical of one’s history isn’t “unpatriotic”: in fact, it is what helps maintain a healthly democracy. Having people distort and absurdly take out of context one’s remarks and observations isn’t only upatriotic, it’s also unconstitutional.

      “Women in America aren’t nearly as persecuted as you attest…”

      “…aren’t nearly as…”?

      So women in the US actually have been discriminated against, though it really hasn’t been ‘as bad’ as some might believe. You do realize that your statement can be interpreted as saying: women should be happy and just accept that they are not at the same level as men; and, historically, women’s sufferage in the US has not been a ‘big deal’ and that women should ‘just get over it’ and stop complaining.

      “…some over-the-top drivel like the US is the most misogynist country and no children are killed with guns in Britain-all total B.S…”

      Is there a correlation between gun-related deaths and misogyny in the US? Does one affect the other?Can you provide gun death stats of the US compared to the rest of the world?

      Recent studies do show that Europeans, Canadians and Japanese are significantly ‘better informed’ on global and domestic issues than their US counterparts.

      “…attitude patronizing, asinine and borderline facist*…”

      Hunter, welcome to the world of right-wing blogging!

      *it’s not borderline…it’s well over that line.

    21. johnA. Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 8:10 pm

      Misogynistic pornography has been around for thousands of years: archeologists have been discovering examples of pornography from the ancient Greeks, Romans, Numidians, Chinese, Indians (Kama Sutra), Aztecs, Incans, Myans, Persians, and so on. The caves early man inhabited have as many crude illustrations of sexual acts as they do depictions of hunting animals.

      “Have you ever seen the filth that comes out of ‘progressive’ Europe?”

      And where exactly does this filth end up? (hint: it’s consumed by the ten billion dollar a year US porn market…the world’s largest).

      If this makes Europe ‘progressive’, in your usage of the term, therefore it makes the US ‘regressive’ since it is the consumer.

      Correct?

    22. Bearette24 Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 9:21 pm

      jic – I have to admit, I haven’t…

    23. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      April 21st, 2008 at 10:44 pm

      I have to admit that I haven’t either; thank goodness that there are people like jic out there to read such filth for us.

    24. jic Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 12:18 am

      johnA:

      “Is there a correlation between gun-related deaths and misogyny in the US? Does one affect the other?”

      The reference to gun-related deaths was about an earlier thread. Nobody is suggesting a connection with misogyny.

      “Recent studies do show that Europeans, Canadians and Japanese are significantly ‘better informed’ on global and domestic issues than their US counterparts.”

      Would you mind linking to one of these studies?

      “If this makes Europe ‘progressive’, in your usage of the term, therefore it makes the US ‘regressive’ since it is the consumer.”

      America may be the biggest single market, but Europeans consume more than their share. But, as you probably realise, I was using ‘progressive’ in a mocking way.

      Hunter Tremayne:

      “I have to admit that I haven’t either; thank goodness that there are people like jic out there to read such filth for us.”

      And if I was talking about heroin use, that would mean that there was a needle in my arm?

    25. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 12:46 am

      Of course not, jic. Besides, by your previous implication, that arm of yours is already engaged in another activity.

    26. spongeworthy Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 9:46 am

      It’s an idiotic unsubstantiated claim, johnA. The US is nowhere close to being the most repressive of women. Find a cite that makes a liar out of me, won’t you? And our history–completely irrelevant to Tremayne’s idiotic claim–is checkered, it compares well to virtually any other country’s.

      You guys help yourselves to whatever terms you like to describe the level of right-wing discourse around here, but for your own, “stupid” fills the bill.

      As always, any proof of your claims is welcome. In fact, I find it difficult to imagine how you can pass up the opportunity to prove us right-wingers wrong.

      If only you had some proof, eh?

      *snicker*

    27. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 11:43 am

      What’s the point of JohnA going to the time and trouble of coming up with facts and figures, Spongeworthy? All you will do is call the information false. Besides which, anyone who ends a post with *snigger* is simply too childish and unsophisticated to debate with in the first place.

      Besides, Hillary won well last night! Go Hillary! Time for a new topic.

    28. jic Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 11:50 am

      “Besides which, anyone who ends a post with *snigger* is simply too childish and unsophisticated to debate with in the first place.”

      Says the guy who wrote:

      “Besides, by your previous implication, that arm of yours is already engaged in another activity.”

    29. spongeworthy Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 12:00 pm

      C’mon, Tremayne. Who are you kidding? I’m not the audience for your drivel anyway. But couldn’t you just make me look the ass if you could just find some sort of proof that America is “one of the most misogynistic countries in the world.” I mean, you didn’t just think that up on your own, did you? Find that cite!

      I’m still laughing that you called me ill-informed when you are clearly passed bad information you got elsewhere. And you called me xenophobic when you made a bigoted claim about Americans. Priceless!

    30. kyle Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 5:50 pm

      Jeez, I’m getting nostalgic for the time when people used to use my blog to attack me instead of one another.

    31. jic Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 6:25 pm

      Kyle, you suck!

      Happy now?

    32. johnA. Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 7:16 pm

      “…unsubstantiated claim…”

      Is there a ‘claim’ that has been made?

      There is a listing of questions. These questions are based on events and eras in US history.

      “…idiotic…”

      How are questions based on history ‘idiotic’?

      Perhaps only to those ignorant of history, and have no other means of an educated reponse.

      You did not choose a question, so I can only assume that you are unable to have an actual discussion on the matter.

      “The US is nowhere close to being the most repressive of women”.

      So you do acknowlege that women in the US are being oppressed to some degree and do suffer some form of gender discrimination, or possibly have been in the past.

      “Find a cite that makes a lair out of me, won’t you?’.

      There are libraries, both public and academic, that have volumes of books about US history.

      If you are not physically inclined to go to the library, you can find information about our nation’s history online: most colleges and universities offer excellent on-line history classes and access to virtual libraries for research.

      The government also offers a wealth of information through the National Library and the National Archives in Washington D.C. The National Archives is an incredible source of historical information, and you can order copies of this documented information*.

      *I found the National Archives to be a very helpful source when composing a term paper on “Women’s Sufferage in the Early 20th Century” my junior year in college.

      The Smithsoanian Institute has several websites that offer insights into the diverse history of our nation. Academic materials are available to teachers, though the public can easily order them as well.

      “…completely irrelevent…”

      My questions are completely and historically “relevent’ to Mr. Tremayne’s comment. I am curious to know how you think otherwise? Can you discuss and describe what the irrelevency is?

      “…it compares well to virtually any other country’s.”

      Would you care to list a few nations that share similar historic experiences? And, perhaps, compare and contrast the similarities and differences?

      Our nation’s history is unique, colorful, exciting and very diverse. It is rich with seemingly endless accounts of people who have endured extreme hardships inorder to survive and make a better life for themselves and others; people who have sacrificed everything to not simply advance themselves, but to advance our society as a whole. The benefits that you and I enjoy today as US citizens, regardless of our race, gender,religion or politcal views in this great nation have all been obtained through the selflessness and courage of individuals: many of whom stood up for what was right even in the face of extreme unpopulartity and adversity. The US exists largely due to the fact that “we the people” have worked together, solved our differences and have learned through both our triumps and failures.

      To make a profoundly ignorant statement that our history is ‘virtually like any other country’s’ is a ‘smack in the face’ to all of those who have participated in the creation and progress of this nation.

      There is probably nothing more truly unpatriotic or “un-American” than not knowing your own histroy.

      “You guys help yourselves to whatever terms you like to describe the level of right-wing discourse around here, but for your own, “stupid” fits the bill”.

      You have already created what the ‘terms’ are, and what the level of discourse is here. You should not be surprise to what kind responses you recieve by provoking people with name-calling.

      No one has actually reffered to you as a ‘liar’, though you personally have made several baseless accusations that those you do not agree with are.

    33. johnA. Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 8:06 pm

      “the reference to gun-related deaths was about an earlier thread. No one is suggesting a connection with mysogyny”.

      There was no reference to a previous thread. If there had been, the statement being read by someone unaware of a prior post would have had some idea of the context of the statement, and not draw a conclusion. The statement implied exactly what it said.

      “Would you mind linking to one of these studies?”

      I have read several studies conducted on the subject of mass media and it’s impact on society, and ones on education standards comparing the US with the rest of the industrialized world, global arms proliferation, genocide in Africa, and the recent discovery that carbon dixoide levels are increasing much faster than previously thought.

      I don’t have ‘links’ because I seldom use the internet as a research source.

      The article was in either in The Economist or The American Journal of Politcal Science about six months ago, maybe longer. I don’t recall the ‘exact’ periodical, though I am sure you can do some research and find it or other similar studies on your own.

      “America my be the biggest single market, but Europeans consume more than their share..”

      This statement is based on personal bias.

      How do you know how much pornographic material is consumed by Europeans? And what is ‘there share’? Is there an ‘average share the average unspecified European consumes every year?

      You have a personal bias against Europeans based on your own misperception which holds that “Europeans” think they are better than “me”, so therefore I do not like Europeans.

      How do you know what the entire collective of people in Europe actually think?

      What have you based your views of foreign peoples on?

    34. jic Says:
      April 23rd, 2008 at 9:43 pm

      “There was no reference to a previous thread. If there had been, the statement being read by someone unaware of a prior post would have had some idea of the context of the statement, and not draw a conclusion. The statement implied exactly what it said.”

      The actual statement was:

      “Tremayne is getting so good at ringing in First! with some over-the-top drivel like the US is the most misogynist country and no children are killed with guns in Britain–all total B.S.–that I think he’s pulling our legs.”

      Now, admittedly, I had prior knowledge of what this was about. But still, I think the wording (“is getting so good at ringing in First! with some over-the-top drivel like”) implies it is describing a pattern of behaviour, not a connection between the two subjects. The punctuation could have been clearer, though.

      “”I am sure you can do some research and find it or other similar studies on your own.”

      It doesn’t work like that. You made the claim, you find the article.

      “How do you know how much pornographic material is consumed by Europeans? And what is ‘there share’? Is there an ‘average share the average unspecified European consumes every year?”

      Actually, that’s true. I don’t have those figures, so I can’t back it up factually. I did look for them, but I couldn’t find them. However, My claims were based on an intimate knowledge of one European country, and some personal experience and anecdotes from friends and family members about others. I don’t remember you giving any references for your claims either…

      You have a personal bias against Europeans based on your own misperception which holds that “Europeans” think they are better than “me”, so therefore I do not like Europeans.”

      Interesting attempt at mind reading there. Actually, that’s complete nonsense. And, by the way, I have lived in an European country for over 26 years (in England to be exact, although I remember a time when suggestion that the UK was part of Europe was still met with outright denial by most Brits).

    35. johnA. Says:
      April 24th, 2008 at 12:23 am

      “It doesn’t work like that. You made the claim, you find the article”.

      Are you giving me an order to do something I actually don’t have to do inorder to satisfy you? You have made claims in your posts here that you can’t possibly begin to account for. Your ‘personal rule’ should also apply to you then, should it not?

      “…I don’t have those figures, so I can’t back it up factually.”

      Now this is getting interesting.

      So you have made statements based on your own opinion. Why didn’t you simply state that in the first place. For example, if you said: “I can’t stand Europeans because, in my opinion, they small funny” or something like that. At least then someone can only be critical of how you feel personally. I wouldn’t have a problem if you do feel that way: it’s your opinion.

      “My claims were based on personal experiences and anecdotes from friends and family members about others”.

      Those sound like very reliable sources for information. I’ll believe anything you have to say from now on because your family and friends couldn’t possibly be wrong.

      I’ll get my mom and dad to post on here next time to vouch for me.

      I did state that I remembered the article in either The Economist or a political science journal. You are implying that I didn’t provide any resources, when several were provided.

      And if by some insane, irrational reason I am lying, and no such research has ever been done, Buddha forbid, then it is up to you to prove me a ‘liar’*.

      *You have said that yourself in a few posts here also.

      It might take you an entire two, possibly three minutes to do a web search. There is no rule stating that I must provide this service for you. If you feel this strongly about it, again, prove it.

      “Interesting attempt at mind reading there. Actually, that’s complete nonsense”.

      There was no attempt at mind reading at all.

      It is interesting though.

      I was trying out a basic technique used in pyschological analysis: your posts clearly demonstrate you have a bias against certain groups of people who are not like you, the language you use and your constant blame of others. I am not reading your mind, only using what you have already said.

      Please file under “S” for ‘sense’.

    36. spongeworthy Says:
      April 24th, 2008 at 9:16 am

      Well, Kyle is feeling a bit left out here so I want to remind our host that I still rail against that little thumbnail-Kyle photo they paste next to his reviews. Of course that’s insufficient for an ego like his, so I, for one, intend to go back to acting as if THE ENTIRE WORLD REVOLVES AROUND KYLE!!11!

      (imagine smiley emoticon here)

      But I think there’s a subtler point he’s making there and it is taken.

    37. jic Says:
      April 24th, 2008 at 8:08 pm

      “Are you giving me an order to do something I actually don’t have to do inorder to satisfy you? You have made claims in your posts here that you can’t possibly begin to account for. Your ‘personal rule’ should also apply to you then, should it not?”

      And it did, when I conceded that I couldn’t back them up. It is noy *my* job to find evidence to back up *your* claims.

      “You are implying that I didn’t provide any resources, when several were provided.”

      “The article was in either in The Economist or The American Journal of Politcal Science about six months ago, maybe longer.” Oh yes, very specific.

      “And if by some insane, irrational reason I am lying, and no such research has ever been done, Buddha forbid, then it is up to you to prove me a ‘liar’*.”

      Fine, then you go find sources for my point, too.

      “*You have said that yourself in a few posts here also.”

      Now I am calling you a liar. Because that is a lie.

      “I was trying out a basic technique used in pyschological analysis: your posts clearly demonstrate you have a bias against certain groups of people who are not like you, the language you use and your constant blame of others. I am not reading your mind, only using what you have already said.

      Please file under “S” for ’sense’.”

      I’ll file it under “F” for ‘fantasy’, because that’s where it belongs.

    38. jic Says:
      April 24th, 2008 at 8:22 pm

      “But I think there’s a subtler point he’s making there and it is taken.”

      That’s true. This thread has gotten way out of hand. I’m done here.

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