This clip from Hillary Clinton’s latest interaction on the campaign trail is either The Worst Thing Ever, The Biggest Non-Event Ever, or the biggest flip-flop on immigration policy in the 2016 cycle. Shoshana Weissmann captured the magical moment for the conservative PAC America Rising, although “moments” may be more appropriate:
Our colleagues at Twitchy had fun rounding up reactions on Twitter, most of which split into two categories. One, personified by our friend and former colleague Noah Rothman, argued that this would be on continuous mainstream-media loop if a Republican presidential candidate had done this. The other thread of response is that this shows how haughty Hillary is with ordinary people, and demonstrates her weakness at retail politicking.
Well, maybe, at least on the second count. If Scott Walker told a woman to get to the back of the line, there would be a Media Freakout on the Binders Full Of Women magnitude, to be sure. Like it or not, that wouldn’t apply if Carly Fiorina said it, although it might be used to attack the former CEO on the basis of her attitude toward workers, or something.
On the second point, I’m not convinced that this moment will outlast a news cycle except among those disposed to dislike Hillary anyway. Don’t expect the media to exploit this the way they might with something similar to the Fiorina example. Besides, if there was a line for greeting Hillary, then it would make sense for Hillary to respect those who followed the rules. This isn’t an unreasonable request, nor was it given dismissively.
However, it’s still Amateur Hour nonetheless. Where were Hillary’s campaign aides? It’s their job to deal with this precisely because a campaign wants to avoid this kind of moment at all costs. If this is the skill level of Team Hillary on the ground, then this won’t be the last gaffe to emerge from the campaign, and the next viral videos may be a lot more substantive. This one’s still fun, so enjoy it while the moment lasts.
Update: Guy has seen the whole 17-minute video, and as I suspected, it’s less than meets the eye here:
As I suspected, the added context casts the awkward exchange in a far less damaging light. Hillary emerges from the building and slowly makes her way down the line of well-wishers, taking photographs, shaking hands, and making small talk. She’s not a natural politician, and many of the interactions feel stilted and perfunctory, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. When people start asking her to sign items (books, photographs, even baseballs), Hillary seems to make a snap decision that she’ll accommodate their requests, but not until she’s made it all the way through the crowd. Hence, the “end of the line” request.
So, it’s about what I expected. I’m not saying it’s illegitimate to run with this, but it’s not a sustainable attack, nor do Republicans lack other issues on which to go after Hillary (and Guy lists a bunch of them). It still prompts the question of why Team Hillary didn’t deal with the line jumper instead of Hillary herself — it’s their job to make these events turnkey for the candidate and to prevent viral videos like this. You can’t stop a candidate from eating a corndog at a state fair, perhaps, but the pros should have been the Queue Monitors, not Hillary. That failure produced one of those moments that just so happen to coincide with prevailing assumptions about her attitude.