Novak: "only the naive can believe" Clinton's emotional moment was genuine

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Discussing a recent campaign event during which Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's voice broke as she talked about why she is seeking the presidency, Robert Novak wrote that "only the naive can believe Clinton was not artfully playing for sympathy from her sisters." Novak's remarks echoed other media figures who characterized Clinton's emotional moment as "pretend[]" or not "genuine" or "calculated."

In his January 10 syndicated column, discussing a recent campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, during which Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) voice broke as she talked about why she is seeking the presidency, Robert Novak wrote that Clinton's "lachrymose complaint" was "widely compared to [then-Sen. Edmund S.] Muskie's [D-ME] crying jag in Manchester 36 years ago, which began his downfall. But whereas Muskie's tears were involuntary, only the naive can believe Clinton was not artfully playing for sympathy from her sisters." Novak added: "It worked."

Several other media figures have similarly characterized Clinton's emotional moment as "pretend[]" or not "genuine" or "calculated," reviving a characterization frequently made by the media that Clinton is "calculating."

From Novak's January 10 column:

It is difficult to exaggerate the funereal tone inside the Clinton camp on primary day in New Hampshire. Sen. Clinton's campaigning there after her third-place Iowa finish was uninspired and uninspiring. Even her husband seemed to lose his famous vibrancy. One Democratic old pro who supports her compared the atmosphere to the last days of Edmund Muskie's failed candidacy in 1972. Expectations of a double-digit defeat Tuesday led to speculation of at least a "relaunched" post-New Hampshire campaign and even a withdrawal before a possible embarrassment in her home-state New York primary Feb. 5.

With that background, Sen. Clinton's lachrymose complaint in New Hampshire on Monday that "this is very personal for me" was widely compared to Muskie's crying jag in Manchester 36 years ago, which began his downfall. But whereas Muskie's tears were involuntary, only the naive can believe Clinton was not artfully playing for sympathy from her sisters. It worked.

Bill Clinton's accompanying belittling of Obama as unqualified ("the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen") was similarly regarded within the party as a serious blunder. That indeed was the reaction from the Obama camp. Obama himself was condescending about his powerful detractor: "I understand he's feeling a little frustrated right now." In fact, an attack by so powerful and popular a Democratic icon should have been taken seriously by the neophyte candidate.

Person
Robert Novak
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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