Video: Obama calls Hillary “likeable enough”

posted at 9:15 am on January 11, 2008 by Allahpundit

I meant to write about this yesterday when the Times quoted some woman voter as being pissed off about it. Now we’ve got Krauthammer, of all people, taking the same line:

It showed a side of Barack Obama not seen before or since. And it wasn’t pretty. Asked in the Saturday Democratic debate about her dearth of “likability,” Clinton offered an answer both artful and sweet — first, demurely saying her feelings were hurt and mock-heroically adding that she would try to carry on regardless, then generously conceding that Obama is very likable and “I don’t think I’m that bad.”

At which point, Obama, yielding to some inexplicable impulse, gave the other memorable unscripted moment of the New Hampshire campaign — the gratuitous self-indicting aside: “You’re likable enough, Hillary.” He said it looking down and with not a smile but a smirk.

Rising rock star puts down struggling diva — an unkind cut, deeply ungracious, almost cruel, from a candidate who had the country in a swoon over his campaign of grace and uplift. The media gave that moment little play, but millions saw it live, and I could surely not have been the only one who found it jarring.

Nonsense. I saw it at the time too and thought it was sweet. Obama wasn’t smirking, he was smiling semi-sheepishly after she called him “very likeable” and then he repaid the compliment half-teasingly. The “enough” part isn’t a putdown, it’s the equivalent of “You’re not so bad yourself,” and everyone — including Hillary and Charlie Gibson, whom you can hear laughing — seems to take it that way. Plus, as one of our commenters said last night in the headlines item, the fact that he’d give her that much after some of the crap coming out of her camp — the Billy Shaheen drugs thing, the Bob Kerrey madrassa revisited — is probably more than she deserves.

The other way to read the line is as “you’re likeable enough [to be president].” Which also helps her, since he’s conceding that his big advantage over her isn’t so big that anyone should prefer him for it. Watch it and see for yourself. Who’s right?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

I think I’m with Krauthammer on this one. I thought her “that hurts my feelings” line was one her better, lighter, more authentic moments and his “likable enough” came off as gloating and rude. It was a moment in she looked like the one who can read voters and be real and he looked like the one who’s letting the nastiness of the politicking affect his message. It also had a whiff of Edwards’ “not sure about that jacket” line. I don’t think asking the likability question is inherently sexist or that Obama’s response was, but it felt like a bad calculation. He came off mean instead of uplifting.

marykatharine on January 11, 2008 at 9:22 AM

You are. He says, “…no doubt about it”, and she says “Thanks, I appreciate that.”

Spirit of 1776 on January 11, 2008 at 9:22 AM

Spot on AP. The comment was made in jest and added some levity. All the players on the stage knew the intent.

natesnake on January 11, 2008 at 9:23 AM

Krauthammer finally gets something wrong.

It was just about the perfect ambivalence from Obama, a combination of “I feel your pain” and “Lets stop this silly crap.”

petefrt on January 11, 2008 at 9:25 AM

marykatharine on January 11, 2008 at 9:22 AM

I disagree. When I saw it the first time, it gave me a chuckle, but not at anyone’s expense. Hillary did not recoil when Obama said it.

natesnake on January 11, 2008 at 9:26 AM

My initial reaction upon seeing it the first time was that the knife went in so smoothly she might not feel the cut.

TexasDan on January 11, 2008 at 9:26 AM

Well, I’m not a woman, so I guess it’s possible MKH is right. It was the woman voter she won back from Obama. Though one line out of one debate seems to be a minor piece of the puzzle.

Spirit of 1776 on January 11, 2008 at 9:29 AM

My initial reaction upon seeing it the first time was that the knife went in so smoothly she might not feel the cut.

Yes, something like that. I think he meant it as a joke of sorts, but it sounded like a cruel joke. It was just a bit much for the hopeful, nicey-nice, change-the-political-climate message he’s carrying.

marykatharine on January 11, 2008 at 9:32 AM

I’m always in awe of how in depth our betters, the Democrats, discuss the issues that matter to this country.

Can’t wait for the next debate when they discuss Dennis Kucinich. Is he likeable? Loveable? Or just a crank? Bonus points to whoever diddies his wife on stage.

My bet is on Hillary.

bert169 on January 11, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Eh it was a joking shot, snarky at most, nothing major.

Dash on January 11, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Our electoral process is profound indeed.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on January 11, 2008 at 9:37 AM

The inflection of tone steers the spoken word. I don’t think he meant to be cruel. At best, he slipped in his delivery of the line.

Considering they talk about 18 hours a day on the campaign trail, I’ll give him a pass on a poorly delivered joke.

natesnake on January 11, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Right on, AP.
It was banter for both of them.

Sloan Morganstern on January 11, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Whether he meant it to be lighthearted or not, it came off as smug, and I thought so at the time.

It’s as if he thinks he’s the cool kid deigning her “cool enough” to hang out with him. It does not come across as humble, to say the least.

Nessuno on January 11, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Somehow I doubt much of anything hurts her feelings, except losing.

Voters have a very short memory.

Asher on January 11, 2008 at 9:39 AM

Krauthammer overplays it but the essential point was right – surging demon-slayer makes an arrogant observation about the recently defeated (though still loved by female Dems) and uncharacteristically humble Hillary. He would have looked like a bully to anyone sympathetic to Hillary (ie not us, but plenty of feminist democrats).

JamesP on January 11, 2008 at 9:41 AM

I thought it came off almost as “flirty”. Certainly not offensive.

When you find yourself opposite MKH and Krauthammer, it’s usually worth taking a second look. I did, and you’re both wrong!

So there.

DaveS on January 11, 2008 at 9:42 AM

Likeable, shrill, dissembling, whatever. Anybody really think Hil even knows how to iron a shirt?

whitetop on January 11, 2008 at 9:43 AM

I remember it took me slightly aback, and made me go “huh?” I wasn’t totally sure what he meant by that comment, and I’m still not. I did not regard it as a compliment, though, because I would not have appreciated having it directed at me. I don’t want to be called “likable enough,” I want to be likable, period. I took her response, “I appreciate that,” as a sarcastic “Thanks a lot, Barack,” not as a woman pleased with a compliment. Everyone knows she’s not likable and he very much is. His comment could therefore not be taken as sincere, IMO.

aero on January 11, 2008 at 9:43 AM

Likeable enough for what? To be POTUS? To win the “rat” nomination? To greet people at Wal-Mart and put stickers on merchandise being returned?

Rising rock star puts down struggling diva — an unkind cut, deeply ungracious, almost cruel, from a candidate who had the country in a swoon over his campaign of grace and uplift.

This sounds more like Ike and Tina Turner (or Bobby Brown/Whitney Houston) than legitimate political issues.

highhopes on January 11, 2008 at 9:43 AM

Anybody really think Hil even knows how to iron a shirt?

Nope. Just a pants suite.

natesnake on January 11, 2008 at 9:45 AM

Whatever Obama’s intentions, it may have been a mistake. Some of my family, friends and co-workers had the same reaction as Krauthammer’s.
When Obama said it he wasn’t smirking or smiling; he was frowning, as if to say “let’s move on from this BS.”

infidel65 on January 11, 2008 at 9:52 AM

He could’ve played it a bit better, no doubt, but “deeply ungracious, almost cruel”? Not from what I saw, and Hillary doesn’t seem to feel slighted by it at all. Stupid, stupid stuff. Invention and exaggeration of perceived feuds is one of the media’s favorite activities.

Yoosaion on January 11, 2008 at 9:53 AM

So Michelle isn’t the only one in that family that’s got the attitude on?

That was just evil Barry coming out. We all love Barrack Hussein.

Hening on January 11, 2008 at 9:55 AM

They should both be encumbered with iron shackles and sent to the ocean depths.

awake on January 11, 2008 at 9:58 AM

My first impression was that it was a pretty good zinger but (since Allah threw out the red flag) upon further review I have to go with Allah on this. On the radio it sounds like a quip but in the video, see his body language, he was playing Mr. Nice with her.

The new ruling, that’s just sick. Get a room you two.

srhoades on January 11, 2008 at 9:59 AM

Whether or not Krauthammer is right or wrong, that little exchange was a positive for Shrillary. She came across there as pleasant, a little self-deprecating and good-humored, no matter how utterly contrived it was. If Shrillary kept that vibe going and mixed it with a sort of Dubya-ish straightforwardness, well, she might be on to something.

Lets face facts, folks; her presidency would be a laugh a minute!

I need laughs. Forget FRED THOMPSON, I want comedy gold. DEMS IN 2008!

Metro on January 11, 2008 at 10:04 AM

I watched it and the impression I got was it was a very awkward moment, I think Hussein felt that and sensed he needed to fill the void with an off the cuff your likable enough Hillary. The way he said it was kind of the way you would say he11, you’ll do in a pinch.

kcd on January 11, 2008 at 10:05 AM

Personally I think you both suck and will be disasters.

But that’s just me, Barack and Missus C.

BKennedy on January 11, 2008 at 10:22 AM

Stupid, stupid stuff. Invention and exaggeration of perceived feuds is one of the media’s favorite activities.

I concur. The comment was a non event and didn’t seem to have any impact on all the polls which predicted an Obama victory.

Mike Honcho on January 11, 2008 at 10:23 AM

I’d go somewhere in between. Had he at least looked her in the eyes and smiled it might have looked more sincere. The way he kept his head down just seemed like he was holding back a laugh.

Esthier on January 11, 2008 at 10:26 AM

Hey Mary Katherine,

My wife and I were watching Fox on elction return night and McCallum was doing a piece on blogs. She made mention of your partner or some such persons comment about the lack of youngers voting for Obama was like going to the tailgate party before the game and so hammered that they forgot to go to the game.

Was that your buddy and do you have a link to the quote? That was the best line of the night.

swami on January 11, 2008 at 10:27 AM

Well, the one thing Kraut got right for sure is the absolute simplemindedness of the Donk debates. No substance and all platitudes. I get a little irritated at the failure of followup questions in the GOP debates, but there is at least some meat on the bone. The dems offer no specifics on anything other than pulling out of Iraq.

a capella on January 11, 2008 at 10:28 AM

Obama’s response made him seem like an arrogant prick.

Women didn’t like it and voted for Hillary. Fair, or not, guys don’t speak to gals that way.

Men and women down South will be repulsed by this comment as well. Chivalry is king down here.

All the pundits that have been trying to say that race, bad polls, etc. made the difference are spinning you.

The GOP polls that were right. The polls for averyone besides Obama/ Hillary were right. But, the polls did not take into account women changing their minds after the Dem debate.

faraway on January 11, 2008 at 10:32 AM

I totally agree with AP on this one. I didn’t think what he said was “cruel” at all. I didn’t take it that way. I thought he paid her a really nice compliment and “out-niced” her and practically stole the moment after Hillary gave a genuinely cute answer to a question.

mattyj86 on January 11, 2008 at 10:34 AM

Sorry, “preview” doesnt work for me.

faraway on January 11, 2008 at 10:34 AM

Says a lot about how far the American voting public has come when their choice for president is predicated on one’s likability.

As I recall from history, presidents such as Jefferson and Lincoln weren’t well liked but ended up doing a bang-up job in spite of their likability factor.

Today sheeple want smiley faces and feel good phrases, they aren’t interested in other more redeeming characteristics in their president. It reminds me of the hippie-dippies in the late 60s, the flower children who said, Make Love Not War.

Same crowd, all grown up ….. and I hate using that terminology, because they never did.

fogw on January 11, 2008 at 10:52 AM

It was a joke and a pretty funny one at the time. But I think after you watch it and process it in your mind, forgetting the tone and the body language, Obama’s slight grin and the whole mood of the moment, it’s easy to think he was being a prick.

amkun on January 11, 2008 at 10:53 AM

I thought he was being a prick and was glad for it. I’m a woman and can’t stand Hillary. She makes me gag. But I can’t stand feminism. I couldn’t stand the whole PMS’ing fake tears thing. It was the biggest turn off. (Not that I would’ve ever in a million years considered giving her my vote, but that would have cinched the deal for someone else) I don’t think that woman could shed tears for anything or anyone but herself. If those were real tears they were because she felt her grasp on the White House slipping. I’m tired of the race/gender card being played. Don’t want to hear it. I no more think her vajayjay qualifies her than a man’s cajones would qualify him.

mauioriginal on January 11, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Watching the the whole thing as it happened, I thought he came off pretty good at the time, and was simply trying to steal some of her thunder b/c for once she came up with a good answer. She cackled out of annoyance of him breaking in and upsetting the flow of her contrived “warm Hillary” moment. People seemed to react positively to his answer, though I can understand the other interpretation now, looking back at it. NO FRIGGIN’ WAY that swung the vote 10+ points though.

RW Wacko on January 11, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Same crowd, all grown up ….. and I hate using that terminology, because they never did.

fogw on January 11, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Sorry for using that awful vajayjay word…

mauioriginal on January 11, 2008 at 11:12 AM

Michelle Obama is the enforcer in the Obama family. In the movie “Pulp Fiction”, this type of character was called “The Cleaner”. Madam Obama dishes it out pretty good. When she and Bill Clinton start mixing it up, it is going to be fun. All I can say is Bill Clinton is mighty lucky he didn’t try his usual stuff with Michelle Obama. Mr. Clinton would be the one the getting the worse of that exchange. I like the way Michelle Obama is the only person who is not intimidated when Bill Clinton and his MSM enablers try to destroy anyone in the Clintons’ path.

Larraby on January 11, 2008 at 11:28 AM

I can say is Bill Clinton is mighty lucky he didn’t try his usual stuff with Michelle Obama.

Yeah, Fort Marcy Park is pretty busy these days.

highhopes on January 11, 2008 at 11:37 AM

Watching it, I thought it was light and spontaneous fun. That matters not a whit, what matters is how it was reported, especially on the ground. I’m not talking major outlets, but you run a couple of operatives around to primarily feminine oriented locales claiming it was a sneer and you can engender (hee-hee) a response. You might be able to sway people who actually watched it and didn’t see anything wrong with the exchange at the time.

Lord knows, memories are malleable enough, especially in people who are looking for an excuse anyway.

Uncle Pinky on January 11, 2008 at 11:49 AM

I don’t like Obama, but that line was perfect. Could be construed as a dig by those in the Clinton camp, but gracious enough that the average Democrat wouldn’t see it as a negative comment. After Hillary’s oh so fake performance this was the perfect reply.

Snidely Whiplash on January 11, 2008 at 12:03 PM

Personally I think you both suck and will be disasters.

But that’s just me, Barack and Missus C.

BKennedy on January 11, 2008 at 10:22 AM

and all of this

fogw on January 11, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Nailed it. Next WoT crisis, and the American public will be faced with “Is my president likeable or uplifting today?”. National Joke!

This country, entirely, needs to go on a couch. It has definitely reached that stage. The media are the reporters and the enablers, but the fools are us.

Both are socialists, and both are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and both uplift no one but themselves. The idiots fall for anything, and will deserve either of them. None of the voters will be uplifted or liked for long, just for the ecstasy of perhaps Nov-Feb of ’08/09. Then reality would set in. Fight for a different one, just not Huckabee.

Entelechy on January 11, 2008 at 12:13 PM

OK, don’t read this post unless you have a barf bag handy.

The WSJ ran an article Tuesday in which they talked to women who were in the audience when Hillary broke down and “cried.” Selected quotes:

She really loves us and wants us to succeed in the world,” said Ms. Pernold Young, who said she was wavering between Mrs. Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. “I think she’s real now. There’s a person in there.”

Allison Hampton, 59 years old, a retired teacher who was leaning toward voting for Mr. Obama, says she’ll now go with Mrs. Clinton. “When she broke up at the end, that came from the heart,” Mrs. Hampton said. “She’s genuine and extremely intelligent.

SECOND LOOK AT THE 19TH AMENDMENT!

saint kansas on January 11, 2008 at 12:23 PM

SECOND LOOK AT THE 19TH AMENDMENT!

saint kansas on January 11, 2008 at 12:23 PM

Not all women are that stupid. Plus, those who are will get theirs shortly into a Hillary presidency, which must be stopped. She’s the same which/b&tch she was before she so-called-teared-up.

Imagine Golda Meir or Margaret Thatcher weeping like that…barf you said, alright.

Entelechy on January 11, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Dem Lovefest… *GAG*

CliffHanger on January 11, 2008 at 12:43 PM

I don’t care what these bleeding heart old ladies say. What Hillary done, makes her look weak! Plus, don’t be surprised to see it more often.

kcd on January 11, 2008 at 1:52 PM

She’s genuine and extremely intelligent

.”
Where in the crap are they getting this??! Shes already made more mistakes in this campaign than a lot do in their first 2 years as Prez! Oh yeah..the Dim talking points and the MSM of course.

kcd on January 11, 2008 at 2:04 PM

I saw and heard Barack during the actual debate. There was no question that he was being gracious and maybe even chivalrous. Don’t analyze this to death.

tgillian on January 11, 2008 at 2:30 PM

Sen. Obama was dismissing the notion in much the same way that Huck dismissed the idea of Senator McCain being too old to run. But I think that he was also giving a subtle cue to the Clinton’s that he’s not afraid of them.

It’s an odd emo combo — deference and defiance. It was rather British of him, actually.

***

SECOND LOOK AT THE 19TH AMENDMENT!

saint kansas on January 11, 2008 at 12:23 PM

Second look in the mirror.

There is nothing funny about disenfranchisement. Actually, I think there are people who could make that joke without revealing some latent throwback ideal. I don’t think you’re that person.

The Race Card on January 11, 2008 at 2:36 PM

I wish I knew how to mince words.

The Race Card on January 11, 2008 at 2:36 PM

I wish I knew how to mince words.

The Race Card on January 11, 2008 at 2:36 PM

I’m happy you don’t :)

Entelechy on January 11, 2008 at 4:15 PM

I wish I knew how to mince words.

I wish I understood your post. What did I ever say to get on your personal “harbors latent throwback ideals” list? Maybe there’s something I need to apologize for.

saint kansas on January 11, 2008 at 4:42 PM

Rising rock star puts down struggling diva — an unkind cut, deeply ungracious, almost cruel, from a candidate who had the country in a swoon over his campaign of grace and uplift.

I think this is a bit much. It is interesting that the 2 top contenders of the party one is a woman and the other black. Hillary has no problem at all using her sex when it suits her. They’re both walking a tightrope as far as anyone “perceiving” any slight to either contender. I don’t think it matters if Obama meant to make a jab or not, but apparently it does if the media sees it that way. Or a female “voter”.

4shoes on January 11, 2008 at 6:43 PM

I sure hope Krauthammer reads this:

I dunno, my first thought was “Touche” when I saw the vid and he said “You’re likeable enough, Hillary”.

To me it didn’t look like a smirk. It looked more like the grin of being in a slightly awkward situation and putting his best face forward when he was being praised by the moderator at her expense.

I also thought he pretty much HAD to say something at that point to defuse the tension the moderator created and that she ran with. If Barack had left it hanging and either said nothing or instead simply said “Thank you, Hillary” without complimenting her back in some way, he would have seemed totally arrogant. And even if he had equally gushingly (as she had been) tried to say she was just as likeable, it would have looked insincere.

Personally I thought his response was about as perfect as it could have been. Not underdone, not overdone. Just enough compliment back to his opponent to totally defuse the situation.

As a conservative I’ll never vote for these people, but I must admit that watching this vid revealed to me that they can both think pretty well on their feet at times when thrown curveballs.

Shirotayama on January 12, 2008 at 6:15 AM

Great digg. Leaves the audience a wide latitude to define enough, as ‘Wild Bill’ did with the word is.

Hopefully, the Obama team is putting together similar zingers to use when Hitlery spews her venom. Hitlery uses canned phrases used regularly enough, that handy zingers to counter them on the spot will get her to go shrill and show how imbalanced she is.

MSGTAS on January 12, 2008 at 9:16 AM