Saturday, February 9, 2008

Cowardly, cravenly, cynically: Hillary calls for reporter to be fired

I won't go out of my way to pretend I'm a big Hillary Clinton fan. I happen to think she'll get her clock cleaned by John McCain in an eventual head-to-head matchup, and I also think she'd be absolute murder for "down ticket" races, i.e., having her on the national ticket would cause a lot of Democratic Senate and House candidates to lose their respective elections after being tied to her by their opponents.

That being said, her latest reaction to MSNBC's David Schuster, who said that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by the Clinton campaign, is an absurd overreaction, even for the combustible Clinton camp. After Schuster was suspended, the Clinton campaign sent the following statement to NBC:

Nothing justifies the kind of debasing language that David Shuster used and no temporary suspension or half-hearted apology is sufficient.
I would urge you to look at the pattern of behavior on your network that seems to repeatedly lead to this sort of degrading language.
In other words, Clinton wants NBC to fire Schuster for what he said. Weak. After sitting idly by and letting conservative pundit after conservative pundit say the very worst things about her, Clinton has decided that THIS is the comment to really lose sleep over. Why? Well, the reason is simple: David Schuster, all apologies to the guy, is a nobody. Hillary knows she can't take on Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Glen Beck or any of those guys, so instead she freaks out and demands that NBC fire David Schuster. It's cowardly. It's cowardly to look the other way when someone powerful makes a distasteful remark about you, but then demand the firing of someone lower down on the totem pole for something fairly innocuous. It reminds of a middle manager who will say nothing when he witnesses his boss doing something unethical, but who will then demand the immediate ouster of someone below him in the corporate pecking order.

It's also cynical: Hillary knows that she gets a lot of abuse from the press, so she has decided that this will be her line in the sand. She's threatening to boycott the NBC-hosted debate unless this reporter is fired because she wants to make a larger point to the media: don't try to push me around.

Finally, the whole thing is completely silly: Schuster, though his word "pimped" was perhaps poorly used, was making a valid point: the Clinton campaign is using Chelsea to get the "youth vote" (uh, yeah, good luck with that), all the while allowing her to hide behind the "sorry, I don't talk to reporters" shield she's been using for the past 10 years. (Rather lamely, she recently told a nine-year old girl she couldn't answer her question because "I don't talk to reporters, and unfortunately that includes you." LAME!) I'm sure they'd also refuse to answer any questions about her for the same reason: she's a kid! Schuster was simply saying, you can't have it both ways. Either make her a public part of the campaign, with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that, or let her have her private life.

Anyway, blah, summary: the Clinton campaign is weak, losing steam and momentum to Obama, and is choosing this fairly mild remark as its Thermopylae. In so doing it reveals itself to be cowardly and cynical. It is hard to imagine feeling any possible motivation to vote for such a candidate.