Fearful, annoyed or evasive: In our view, Hillary Clinton made some news in Tuesday’s interview with CNN.
As the interview started, CNN’s underwhelming Brianna Keilar asked the world’s least useful political question:
Why do voters seem to like your opponent so darn much?
Such questions are rarely useful. But the second Q-and-A produced some actual news:
KEILAR (7/7/15): Senator Sanders has talked about how, if he's president, he would raise taxes. In fact, he said to CNN's Jake Tapper, he would raise them substantially higher than they are today, on big corporations, on wealthy Americans. Would you?Really? Clinton is going to make a speech about her economic proposals on Monday?
CLINTON: I will be laying out my own economic policies. Again, everybody has to run his or her own campaign. And I'm going to be telling the American people what I propose and how I think it will work; and then we'll let voters make up their minds.
KEILAR: Are—is raising taxes on the table?
CLINTON: I'm going to put out my policies, and I'll let other people speak to their policies, because I think we have to both grow the economy faster and fairer so we have to do what will actually work in the short term, the medium term and the long term. I will be making a speech about my economic proposals on Monday. And then I look forward to the debate about them.
That was news to us. We find that prospect intriguing. That said:
To the clueless wonders of the “press corps,” that Q-and-A was less striking. On several programs, we saw them scoring it as another case where Candidate Clinton refused to answer the question, in this case about raising taxes.
Obviously, if Clinton plans to release her proposals on Monday, she wasn’t going to blurt them to Keilar. But then, our pundits are among the dumbest life-forms found anywhere on the earth.
Keilar did a fairly lousy job conducting the ballyhooed interview. For example, when Clinton made some questionable statements about the tedious but inevitable email matter, Keilar completely failed to follow up or ask for clarification.
Indeed, the most questionable statement in that exchange was triggered by an error by Keilar, who seemed to say that Clinton had been under subpoena when she deleted those emails she deemed to be personal in nature.
Clinton challenged the bungled implication. In the process, she seemed to bungle herself.
In our view, Keilar was underwhelming. But if it’s world-class cluelessness you seek, you had to visit the sleepwalking gang on the set of yesterday’s Morning Joe.
To his credit, Joe Scarborough alleged that Clinton had made five or six factual misstatements in discussing the email matter. It wasn’t entirely clear to us that he understood all the facts of the case himself, and he didn’t note the way Keilar’s performance added to the confusion. But he was at least citing objective factual concerns.
Not so for the rest of the gang. Scarborough turned to Mike Barnicle first. His assessment was completely subjective:
BARNICLE (7/8/15): A couple of things popped out, at least at me, watching that interview. One is, there is still a lot of rust on this political vehicle, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. She is still in the spring training phase, I think, of getting her message out.To watch the whole segment, click here.
The other element is the difference in—We’re used to hearing and seeing her husband, who’s been with us forever, on the political stage. He is fearless on the stage—fearless. She is fear-full. Her eyes were just—seemed frightened at every word that she said. She’s weighing and measuring every word that comes out of her mouth.
Did Candidate Clinton’s eyes “seem frightened at every word that she said?” The thought wouldn’t have occurred to us in a thousand years.
Barnicle’s assessment was completely subjective. He topped it off with an unflattering comparison to Bill Clinton, a comparison that won’t pop into his head when he watches the other candidates.
In fairness, Barnicle said Clinton’s fear was “understandable, because she is right about the onslaught of criticism involving the most picayune things involving the Clintons.” But he closed with a thoroughly negative assessment:
“Not a great moment yesterday.”
Barnicle played the role of an East German judges scoring a skating performance. He did subjective “theater criticism” all the way to the end.
Scarborough threw to Jonathan Capehart next. Capehart is a Clinton shill, but he took the same subjective approach:
CAPEHART (7/8/15): Well, you know, to jump on something that Barnicle just said, that she—that Secretary Clinton looked fearful. To me, she looked annoyed, especially talking about the email, the email controversy. Clearly, it seemed to me that she’s just tired of answering these questions and feels that she’s answered those questions, not just to the best of her ability, but truthfully, and she’s still getting hit with these questions.Barnicle focused on how Clinton seemed. Capehart discussed the way she looked. Neither pundit assessed the actual things she said.
In his standard nod to his elders in the guild, Capehart said that he agreed about all “the rust on the vehicle.”
Capehart and Barnicle made no remarks about anything Clinton said. They only assessed the way the she looked and seemed.
Eventually, Scarborough threw to Katty Kay, asking her to discuss Clinton sagging poll numbers on trust. Just like that, Kay became the third East German judge:
KAY (7/8/15): In part, they’ve collapsed, not because people know the details, as you suggest, of the emails, because it’s very complicated and most people haven’t followed that. I think they’ve collapsed partly because of what we saw yesterday which is a performance issue, which is a style issue, which is a mannerism that she has of looking and sounding evasive…Viewers could take their pick. Candidate Clinton looked or seemed fearful, annoyed or evasive. Except for Scarborough, no one had a thing to say about what she had actually said.
There’s something about the way, when she is asked a question, she visibly doesn’t like being pushed, or pushed for transparency. And I think—I thought that was the weakest part of the interview last night was the manner in which she answered those questions.
Our ranking pundits are among the least impressive people on earth. As such, they tend to employ the most subjective measures possible. This allows them to reach whatever judgments they like about the various candidates.
During Campaign 2000, the pundits gravitated toward two extremely slippery measures as they rated the candidates:
Were the candidates “authentic?” Were they “comfortable in their own skin?”
All is lost when we let these flyweights adopt these subjective standards of measure. Based on yesterday’s Morning Joe, there’s no rust on the clown car from which they’ll be spilling over the next sixteen months.