The Clintons have a long history of Machiavellian emoting. It was quite the scene when Bill Clinton exited Secretary Ron Brown’s funeral in 1996, smiling and chuckling during a conversation, only to turn and see a camera and then bow his head and feign tears (video here). Well, former Clinton advisor Paul Begala did say, “Politics is show business for the ugly.”
And now Hillary Clinton is angling for her Tony, having gotten choked up talking about her mother on ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir. The Tuesday interview was a stop on what critics have called Clinton’s “apology tour,” her attempt at damage control regarding her email-server scandal. Of course, it may seem harsh to ascribe Machiavellian motives to a woman talking about how her deceased mother inspired her to persevere. Except for one thing: timing. As the New York Times reported just the day before (Monday) in a piece entitled “Hillary Clinton to Show More Humor and Heart, Aides Say”:
There will be no more flip jokes about her private email server. There will be no rope lines to wall off crowds, which added to an impression of aloofness. And there will be new efforts to bring spontaneity to a candidacy that sometimes seems wooden and overly cautious.
… In extensive interviews by telephone and at their Brooklyn headquarters last week, Mrs. Clinton’s strategists acknowledged missteps — such as their slow response to questions about her email practices — and promised that this fall the public would see the sides of Mrs. Clinton that are often obscured by the noise and distractions of modern campaigning.
They want to show her humor. The self-effacing kind (“The hair is real, the color isn’t,” she said of her blond bob recently, taking note of Mr. Trump) has played better than her sarcastic retorts, such as when she asked if wiping a computer server was done “with a cloth.”
They want to show her heart, like the time she comforted former drug addicts in a school meeting room in New Hampshire.
Critics were quick to jump on the obvious. Journalist Dave Levinthal tweeted, “Nothing like pre-planned spontaneity MT @mlcalderone: Clinton planning 'new efforts to bring spontaneity' to campaign.” Politico White House reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere opined via Twitter, “Clinton's carefully calculated plan to seem not careful or calculated.” As to the folly of this, liberal Bloomberg radio pointed out yesterday that if you have a strategy for reinventing yourself, you just implement it; if you announce you’re implementing it, it makes you look like a “phony,” as the station’s commentators put it.
Yet the Clinton campaign did amateurishly telegraph its intentions, prompting observations such as the following from American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson: “Right on cue, the day after the New York Times noted that her aides, “want to show her heart, … Hillary Clinton choked up about her mother’s difficult life.… Stay tuned for more spontaneous emoting. It’s in the plan, as calculated as the home brew server’s erasure.”
But Clinton has a long history of acting — often badly. As Bloomberg’s Ali Elkin reported April 22:
During her tenure in politics, Hillary Clinton has shifted between several distinct versions of American English. This is not terribly unusual. President Barack Obama has been known to change his pronunciation according to region and audience. But the thing about Clinton is that she’s been in the game for so long, and has had so many different jobs and lived in so many different places, that her various accents wind up mapping her career.
Interest in Clinton's accent was renewed Wednesday, when she seemed to slip back into a drawl. Speaking at the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council, Clinton replaced a lot of "I" sounds with "ah" sounds, a habit she's picked up sporadically over the years.
Elkin points out that “the different accents don’t seem to appear randomly — they seem to come out based on where Clinton is, what role she has, or what office she’s running for.” Elkin also provides numerous videos from the past decades showing the many voices of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton’s shape-shifting extends not just to style, however, but also substance. American Thinker’s Silvio Canto treated this matter in an April piece bluntly titled, “Hillary's biggest problem: she's a phony.” In it he quotes the Economist, which asked “What does Hillary stand for?” and then wrote:
For someone who has been on the national stage for a quarter-century, her beliefs are strangely hard to pin down. On foreign policy, she says she is neither a realist nor an idealist but an “idealistic realist.” In a recent memoir, she celebrates “the American model of free markets for free people.” Yet to a left-wing crowd, she says: “Don’t let anybody tell you, that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” (An aide later said she meant tax breaks for corporations.) Some candidates’ views can be inferred from the advisers they retain, but Mrs Clinton has hundreds, including luminaries from every Democratic faction. Charles Schumer, her former Senate colleague from New York, called her “the most opaque person you’ll ever meet in your life.”
Canto then provides a couple of his own examples of Clinton vs. Herself, writing, “Let's remember Hillary Clinton on Iraq. She was a hawk and then conveniently turned dove in 2008. She also proposed air strikes against Iran in 2007.… She talks about the little guy and then charges huge fees to speak at colleges.”
In fact, in articles about Clinton — from both the Right and the Left — the word “phony” appears often. One example is an April Fox News interview about a “staged” coffee shop appearance in which the candidate was supposed to spontaneously meet “real Americans,” but instead was inter-acting with planted Democrat operatives, the allegation goes.
But the pièce de résistance of Clinton deceit occurred in March 2008. As the Washington Times reminded us in February, while “giving a foreign policy speech on Iraq about her days as first lady and a trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, she delivered an unbelievable tale. ‘I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.’”
It was unbelievable because it never happened. Journalist Sharyl Attkisson accompanied Clinton on the trip and said it never happened. Video proved it never happened. Nonetheless, Clinton at first “doubled down and dug in,” as Attkisson put it, later said, “I was sleep deprived and I misspoke” (perhaps she dreamt the event), before finally settling on “So I made a mistake. It proves I’m human, which you know, for some people, is a revelation.” And although it was precisely the type of lie that got Brian Williams fired from NBC Nightly News earlier this year, like her husband in 1996, Clinton survived the scandal with the help of a complicit mainstream media.
And without this aid, Clinton would have faded into obscurity long ago. For her lies aren’t just lies, they’re stupid lies. While proclaimed “the smartest woman in the world” in the '90s, reality is perhaps setting in. As American Thinker’s Bruce Walker suggested last week, “Hillary May Just Be Dumb.”
And this, along with her nastiness off-camera, may explain why the Left appears to have thrown her under the bus. In the leftist milieu you can be a phony; in fact, a skilled one, such as Bill Clinton, will be admired. What you can’t be, and what Hillary Clinton appears to be, is an incompetent phony.