CHRIS WALLACE (3/4/07): So with that as prelude, how are McCain and Romney doing at this point?Take what I say with a grain of salt? Dont worry, Nina—we always have! In case youve forgotten, Easton was once the Boston Globes Kerry reporter—one of the authors of that papers strange book about the fake, phony candidate. To sample her work during Campaign 04, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/2/04 (strongly recommended). In that HOWLER, you also can hear the whole pundit corps say that Al Gore screams just like Howard Dean.
EASTON: Well, in full disclosure, my husband works for the McCain campaign, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
WOLF BLITZER (3/4/07): All of a sudden, in all of these polls, [Giuliani] is coming out number one.Maybe we could make this campaign a bit simpler. How about this? Maybe big journalists could just let us know if their spouses dont work for McCain.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, Wolf, whenever I talk about the Republican race, I always start with the full disclosure that my lovely wife works for John McCain.
LEIBOVICH (3/6/07): Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton signs autographs meticulously, drawing out each line and curve of ''H-i-l-l-a-r-y,'' ''R-o-d-h-a-m'' and ''C-l-i-n-t-o-n.'' She leaves no stray lines or wayward marks.Simply put, theyre so dumb that its painful to read them. The fact that these people control our discourse is a national security problem. Its a disaster for the national interest. As we should have learned from Campaign 2000, its a threat to the things you hold dear.
''Hillary, over here, over here,'' called out a young woman from the mob that formed outside the Berlin Town Hall when Mrs. Clinton, Democrat of New York, arrived for a ''conversation,'' in the parlance of the made-to-order intimacy of her presidential campaign. ''Can you sign my Hillary sign, please?'' the woman asked.
Mrs. Clinton autographed the poster, carefully. It took a full seven or eight seconds, none of the two-second scribbles of other politicians. She is the diligent student who gets an A in penmanship, the woman in a hurry who still takes care to dot her i's.
APPLE (8/21/99): Mr. Bush—now referred to by newspapers around the country not as George W. Bush or even George W. but simply as W.—demonstrated real mastery of one-on-one campaigning.Call him the Madras Cowboy! That sentence that would have embarrassed anyone—except a member of our press idiocracy. In this profile, it didnt seem to occur to Apple that something was wrong when the nations newspapers were simply referring to Bush as W (while beating the sh*t out of Candidate Gore, as Apple would do in a later profile). Instead, Apple gushed and fawned and flattered—and coined that embarrassing moniker.
His style is an amalgam of East and Southwest, Yale and the oil patch. Call him the Madras Cowboy.
LEIBOVICH: ''I'm Hillary Clinton, and I'm running for president,'' she says at campaign appearances. Lamenting that her public image has been distorted by caricature, she often says, ''I may be the most famous person you don't really know.'' In the cliche of contemporary politics, Mrs. Clinton is ''reintroducing herself to the American people.''Good Lord! Bush was once the Madras Cowboy. And Clinton, today, is the Nurturing Warrior (which makes Mark Leibovich the Diddling Draftsman). To read such work is to wonder why its author hasnt been carted off a home, where his meals could be given to him every day, where he could be helped with his clothing each morning. He could meet Maureen Dowd in the homes common room, where he could hear her mumble all day about the way Big Dem males are such girls. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/5/07, to remember how dumb this gang gets.
She is, in this latest unveiling, the Nurturing Warrior.
LEIBOVICH: She contrasts the give-and-take of her chitchats—even though she does most of the talking—with what she suggests are the pig-headed pronouncements of a male bogeyman, George W. Bush. She rails against what she calls the ''one-sided conversation'' of Washington during the Bush years, bemoans President Bush's ''stubbornness,'' speaks of her frustration at getting him to hear opposing views. She essentially portrays him as an exasperating husband who is beyond marriage counseling.For those who dont speak the language of this evil tribe, Mrs. Clinton, Version 08" is a variant of the language used to tell the world that Gore was a phony. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/8/00, for a sample of this Gore-trashing language.) But how amazing is that first sentence weve highlighted? She contrasts the give-and-take of her chitchats...with what she suggests are the pig-headed pronouncements of a male bogeyman, George W. Bush, this boy types—making sure we get his account of what Clinton has said before he actually quotes her. The pig-headed pronouncements of a male bogeyman! A weak and utterly stupid boy typed those sad and evil words—and an idiot editor put them in print. And your children—including those will be born today—will suffer for the reign of this cohort.
It is not easy, though, to humanize a juggernaut, which Mrs. Clinton's well-financed and hyperdisciplined campaign most certainly is. And it is difficult to appear authentic in tightly controlled settings, or conduct intimate conversations amid mobs of people, many wearing press credentials.
But the senator is trying hard. In appearances in Washington and around the country, Mrs. Clinton—Version 08, Nurturing Warrior, Presidential Candidate Model—is speaking more freely of her gender than she has in years.
LEIBOVICH: At a Capitol Hill ceremony in February to honor Sojourner Truth, the 19th-century slave turned abolitionist, Mrs. Clinton enveloped a series of women in hugs. She bestowed the ''best-dressed and most-stylish'' status on one guest and commented that an old, departed friend ''has got one of those turbans on, showing that style all over Heaven.''Good. God. Almighty. Once again, to state the obvious, every part of that passage is designed to show you how fake Clinton is. But then, we reach the coup de grace—the sentence that ends this part of the profile. Omigod! And Leibovich is clearly eager to tell it; the castrating bitch made poor Philippe Reines hold her purse while she spoke to those women! (Yes, Philippe Reines is a man.) And readers, if you think that isnt what that strange passage means, well suggest that, for the past fifteen years, you have been absent from the earth. Its meaning couldnt be any more plain. Its writer couldnt be any weaker.
Mrs. Clinton then looked to the ceiling and spread her hand wide over heart, performing a little side-to-side jig with her head.
She invoked Sojourner Truth's iconic quotation, ''Ain't I a woman?'' and added, ''Well, I've been saying that a few times lately, too.''
There were whoops, applause and shouts of ''you go, girl'' for Mrs. Clinton.
As she spoke, a press aide, Philippe Reines, held her purse. [END OF SECTION]
LEIBOVICH: Mrs. Clinton is a prodigious nodder. She is always nodding, in an array of distinctive flavors: the stern, deferential nod (at a Senate news conference, when her colleague Evan Bayh described conditions in Afghanistan); the empathetic, lips-pursed nod (when a man in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, tells her about his son's epilepsy); the squinty, disbelieving nod (when a general testifies on Iraq before the Senate Armed Services Committee); the dutiful acknowledgment nod (when being applauded); and the blushing nod (when a veteran in Des Moines tells her ''I think you look very nice'').Simply put, thats political porn. Yes, that passage is utterly daft; its the work of a brain-damaged cohort. But the point of this nonsense is also quite clear. Leibovich thinks Clinton is a big phony. (Like her husband, who gets misty-eyed on demand.) Leibovich thinks that Clintons a phony—and he wants you to think that way too.
When bored, Mrs. Clinton will occasionally fall into a far-off gaze before catching herself, defaulting to a nod.
The nodding appears unconscious, but not always. She nodded through a news conference with New York lawmakers discussing medical care for Sept. 11 relief workers.
''Nine-eleven was an act of war,'' Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, said as Mrs. Clinton stood by, head bobbing.
''The villains aren't the terrorists,'' Mr. Nadler continued. ''The villains live in the White House.''
At which point Mrs. Clinton, perhaps sensing that the rhetoric had gotten too hot, stopped nodding.
Bill Clinton was also a great nodder, known for his ''I-feel-your-pain'' empathy and seeming ability to summon a misty-eyed visage on demand. He will pretty much hug anyone. His wife, who regularly invokes him on the campaign trial—''When Bill had his heart surgery,'' ''Bill used to love Dunkin' Donuts,'' ''Bill always reached out to other people who would be patient and listen''—can suffer by comparison. She keeps a more cautious distance, although when she does hug, she also tends to air-kiss (with a loud ''mwwwwwahh'').