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.
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.