Hillary Clinton appeared near tears on the eve of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary as she responded to a question about how she remains upbeat on the campaign trail. “It’s not easy,” Clinton said, “and I couldn't do it if I didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do.” Rival front-runner Barack Obama’s campaign declined to comment, but former senator John Edwards said the nation needed “strength and resolve” in a commander-in-chief, because being president is “tough business.” (The Washington Post, free registration)
What the commentators said
Hillary had to try something new, said Margaret Carlson in Bloomberg.com. She failed to regain momentum from Obama in the weekend’s debate, and needed some of that “Obama love” to avert disaster in the New Hampshire primary. So why not try shedding a few tears? “It occasionally works with speeding tickets.”
“The question now: Did it help her cause?” said Amy Chozick in The Wall Street Journal. “Or did she project the weakness that could be fatal for a presidential candidate?” Crying on the campaign trail has sunk campaigns in the past, and it can be especially damaging for women trying to prove they can hack it in the men’s club of politics.
Yes, but we’ve come a long way since 1972, said Timothy Noah in Slate. That was the year when Edmund Muskie sank his front-running candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination by welling up in public. And in 1987 Pat Schroeder sparked a fierce debate when she sobbed after withdrawing from the presidential race. Hillary’s tears are “proving not merely acceptable, but a positive good.”
Not necessarily, said Ann Althouse in her blog. Hillary looked like she was being “coached.” And that makes you wonder, “Is it a phony effort to get your sympathy?
Welcome to campaigning in the “age of Oprah and Dr. Phil,” said Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). Clinton explained after her outburst that she wanted voters to know she’s a “real person.” You see, these days “principles and policy details take a back seat to the need to say ‘there, there—I understand’ to the voters.”
That’s why Edwards’ “cheap shot” was so appalling, said Katha Pollitt in her blog at TheNation.com. A supposedly sensitive man who has “used his most private tragedies—his wife’s cancer, his son’s fatal accident—in his campaign” goes after Hillary the second her eyes “mist over.” I guess the man with the fancy haircut’s “metrosexuality only goes scalp deep.”