The reviews for the most recent monthly Hillary Clinton reboot are in, and … they’re not pretty. After watching Hillary mug for the cameras and engage in such artificial “spontaneity” on the Ellen DeGeneres Show this week, Dana Milbank started looking for a chance to tip the waitress and try the lobster. He issued a scathing column on the phony joviality, advising Hillary to find all of her advisers who signed off on this “authentic” plan, and fire them. Spontaneously, perhaps:
We knew Clinton was going to be funny and warm because her aides told the New York Times she was going to be funny and warm. “Hillary Clinton to Show More Humor and Heart, Aides Say,” was the headline on Amy Chozick’s piece week, reporting that “there will be new efforts to bring spontaneity to a candidacy that sometimes seems wooden and overly cautious.”
“They want to show her humor,” Chozick said of the advisers. “They want to show her heart.” They want this even though previous such efforts “backfired amid criticism that the efforts seemed overly poll tested.”
Maybe they seemed poll-tested because they were poll-tested, but no matter: “The coming months will also be a period of trying to shed her scriptedness.”
Planned spontaneity? A scripted attempt to go off script? This puts the “moron” into oxymoron.
Milbank concludes with some good advice — or at least it might be good advice for other candidates:
Maybe voters in this anti-establishment, populist moment still won’t embrace a foreign policy hawk with ties to Wall Street. But what voters reject every time is a phony. If Clinton ditches the constant makeovers and still loses, she at least will have the dignity of knowing she was her own person.
He’s right about the danger of constant reboots, and especially the clown show that Hillary put on this week. Voters can smell a phony in most cases, and they’re getting an even bigger whiff of it now from Hillary and her team. The problem with Milbank’s advice in this specific instance is that Hillary Clinton’s authentic self has come out in this campaign; voters have caught her sense of entitlement, secrecy, lack of honesty, and derision when scrutinized publicly. In fact, that’s come across loud and clear in almost every election cycle in which Hillary has participated, which is why her favorability has plummeted in almost all of them. That is why her team has had to construct an artificial “authentic Hillary” every few weeks, as a distraction.
That’s also why these artificial “authentic Hillary” strategies fail — Hillary can’t pull them off, and the real Hillary keeps peeking through. David Graham spotted the problem already at The Atlantic, starting with the stunning reversal on an apology over the e-mail scandal:
The reversal—two almost diametrically opposed answers to the same question in two days—does not suggest a campaign that is confident and has a plan. And the spectacle of Clinton’s aides speaking to the press about what they “want her” to do makes for uncomfortable recollections of the 2008 campaign, in which Clinton aides fought for control of the campaign (and with each other) via the media. Heading into this race, Clinton promised she had learned the lessons of the campaign, including the risk of failing to show emotion on the trail and the danger of allowing chaos among advisers, and wouldn’t make them again. …
One additional problem with announcing that the candidate is going to show more emotion is that once she does, those displays start to seem, if not fake, at least forced. In the ABC interview Tuesday, Clinton got choked up while discussing her mother, Dorothy Rodham. There are many reasons to believe this is genuine: Losing a parent is a traumatic experience, and Clinton has repeatedly spoken passionately during this campaign about the influence of her mother, who led a truly harrowing early life and died in 2011 at 92. Yet because her by-all-indications-genuine display of emotion came the same day as the Times story,skeptical reporters questioned whether it was for real. (She also appeared Tuesday on Ellen, a venue intended to be more casual and authentic, where she kibbitzed with Amy Schumer and danced the nae nae.) …
[I]t doesn’t matter how many times James Carville goes on TV to mock the press or warn his fellow Democrats against overreacting to Clinton’s troubles: His fellow Democrats are already alarmed—and her reboot, rather than assuaging their fears, may be making the problem worse.
In other words, if the problem is authenticity, then making up a new persona for public consumption isn’t exactly the antidote, especially a painfully unserious Nae Nae-dancing persona. Michael Ramirez summed it up earlier this week for Investors Business Daily:
Also, be sure to check out Ramirez’ terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, and pre-order his upcoming second collection, Give Me Liberty or Give Me ObamaCare!, with foreword by Dick Cheney and afterword by Rush Limbaugh. Read my review of his first collection here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here. And don’t forget to check out the entire Investors.com site, especially its Editorial section, which includes my friend Andrew Malcolm and plenty of other great writers.