Conventional Wisdom And Bill Clinton

The Beltway Narrative Shifts, And Suddenly Clinton Is Old And Out Of Touch

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Bill ClintonYou can watch the Beltway media's narrative shift before your eyes, as reporters get bored with the story they've been telling and move on to something counterintuitive and new. Journalists want to tell stories, not just report facts, and the stories they choose to tell based on cherry-picked examples are often bad for progressives.

Old conventional wisdom: Bill Clinton is the greatest politician of his generation, with a unique ability to inspire audiences in his speeches.

New conventional wisdom: Bill Clinton is old, tired, and should hang it up.

Patrick Healy kicked off the change with a 1,400-word January 28 New York Times trend piece that cited a Clinton speech Healy attended in Iowa the previous night, a speech his colleague attended in Las Vegas last week, and the opinions of a handful of observers as evidence that "the old magic seems to be missing." (Other journalists who saw those same speeches came away with dramatically different interpretations of Clinton's performance; Healy wrote a similar piece last March.)

Now Mark Halperin, a key bellwether for Beltway insider journalists, has picked up the narrative. During today's edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, he called Healy's story "pretty accurate." Halperin said that he had seen Clinton at an event yesterday and that while the former president's "best moments are great," he was "not his best," with "a little bit of a rambling quality to his presentation." "I thought he was better in New Hampshire when I saw him last week," Halperin added.

Indeed. After that January 20 speech in New Hampshire, Halperin said on Morning Joe that Clinton had been "as good as I've seen him in years in driving a message." He also issued a stream of tweets describing the event as a "#ClintonClassic."

Just before the speech he attended yesterday, Halperin was calling Clinton "The Master."

Somehow, one speech and one Times article later, the narrative has shifted dramatically.

Posted In
The Presidency & White House
The New York Times
Bill Clinton, Mark Halperin, Patrick Healy
Morning Joe
2016 Elections
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