Big major pundits gone wild: Hillary Clinton kicked off her White House campaign this week. We have no real idea why.
It’s still only April—April of the year before. Putting that another way, it’s April 2015. The election in question will be held near the end of 2016.
At present, no one is running against Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Putting this another way, there is absolutely no earthly reason why Clinton should be “campaigning” now.
We don’t mean this as a criticism of Clinton. The press corps was screaming for her to start. Their deportment could only have gotten worse if Clinton had waited longer.
That said, the reaction to Clinton’s start has been just this side of insane, especially at the Washington Post. Consider Ruth Marcus’ recent post, “Hillary Clinton’s insultingly vapid video.”
Marcus refers to the short, pointless video in which Clinton announced that she is running. Given the factors we’ve already mentioned, the video is roughly as consequential as the average grain of sand in the Sahara.
Despite this rather obvious fact, Marcus is highly verklempt. “The more I watch Hillary Clinton’s announcement video, the less I like it,” Marcus says at the start of her post. “This may be putting it mildly.”
Marcus is doing it wrong. You aren’t supposed to watch this short video over and over again.
You aren’t supposed to sit and worry about what’s AWOL from the tape. But Marcus was been worrying hard. Eventually, she reaches this judgment:
MARCUS (4/13/15): [T]he video was relentlessly, insultingly vapid—a Verizon commercial without the substance. “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton said in what passed for a meaty message. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”That may be the dumbest four paragraphs we have ever read. And we’ve been following this group’s “campaign coverage” rather closely since March 1999.
Seriously, this makes Ronald Reagan’s gauzy “It’s Morning Again in America” commercial look like a Brookings Institution seminar on economic policy. Understood—an announcement video isn’t the moment for a detailed policy platform, but it is, or should be, a venue for at least nodding to specific goals.
In 2007, for instance, Clinton cited specifics [in her announcement video]: “how to bring the right end to the war in Iraq … how to make us energy independent … how to end the deficits that threaten Social Security and Medicare … how every American can have quality affordable health care.”
Sunday’s announcement—well, I just quoted the entirety of its substance. The Clinton campaign is focused on reassuring voters, as a campaign official put it in a conference call Monday previewing Clinton’s Iowa trip, “it isn’t about her … this is about … everyday Iowans.” But everyday Iowans deserve to hear more from the woman who would be president about what, exactly, she intends to do in office. It disrespects them to spend precious video seconds on the cute boy playing a fish in his school play.
“Everyday Iowans deserve to hear more...about what, exactly, she intends to do in office?” Really? Why?
We have almost a year to go before the Iowa caucuses. At present, no one else is even competing on the Democratic side.
If Clinton discussed lots of substance this week, is there any chance that any Iowan would remember or care by the time they actually get to vote? It’s crazy to think that anyone needs to be “talking substance” at this time.
Crazy as Marcus’ post was, colleagues are chasing her for the title of Craziest Reaction to Clinton’s Video at the Post. Because David Ignatius isn’t crazy, we’re amazed by the headline on his column today:
“Hillary Clinton is off to a fuzzy start”
Clinton is off to a fuzzy start? She isn’t “off to a start” at all! Does Ignatius own a calendar?
Kathleen Parker is almost as crazy in her own deconstructive column about the vexatious video. She too is begging for substance:
PARKER (4/15/15): Clinton made [her announcement] from the remote perch of a YouTube video, consisting of a series of vignettes that felt like a commercial interruption of regularly scheduled programming...Where are the policy prescriptions? Inquiring scribes want to know!
At the end of this ennui-inducing marshmallow roast of good feelings and American awesomeness, Hillary materializes as an apparition of The Good Mom, eager to help (e)veryday (a)mericans find the uppercase key—and perhaps a nice glass of milk.
Otherwise, there was no there there. No passion, no policy, no pie. At least couldn’t there be pie?
Inevitably, “campaign coverage” makes us wonder if our pundits are truly human. The relentless inanity of their work always suggests the possibility of non-human origins, whether in a laboratory or on some distant planet.
That said, this week’s Clinton kick-off coverage seems as daffy and as dumb as any we’ve ever seen. Tomorrow, we’ll show you how they trashed Candidate Gore for offering too much early substance—and that was in July of 1999!
This could be the very bad start of a very bad ride to a bad destination. On the bright side, we’re seeing push-back against The Dumb at a couple of sites.
Explicit push-back against The Dumb? Have we ever seen that before?
Instant update: Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow! This just in from the heinous Frank Rich:
“Unscripted Hillary Clinton Still Feels Scripted”
No, really! You can click here.