Friday, February 22

The "Xerox" Moment

It'd be a shame to think that, for all the energy and potential of Hillary's campaign, one of the last great mistakes might been the "Xerox" moment in the Texas debate with Obama.

From Slate:

"The Wisconsin vote, in which Obama won the majority of people who had made up their minds in the previous week, proved just how ineffective the attacks had been. Something about the charges wasn’t sticking. But the Clinton camp apparently hadn’t learned its lesson. During the debate, Hillary does conspicuously decline to attack Obama in a few places. Twice, when asked whether he could be commander-in-chief, she demurs. But the Xerox line—so plodding, so preplanned, so poorly timed (Obama was coming off an elegant flourish about words vs. deeds)—will survive the night."


"It's change you can Xerox?!?" What high-priced rhetorician came up with this plodding nonsense? Why not something that makes some semblance of grammatical sense, such as, "If leadership is about authenticity and character, one should at least have the decency to own one's own words." Or something like that. Actually, I know what it is - they were trying for the ill-conceived unconsious meme theory that some progressives have gotten from Lakoff where the goal is to say something so spectacular that it "sticks" in the mind and works to overcome a previously entrenched mental frame. The big example so far, not spectacularly successful in my humble opinion, was "General Petreus, don't Betray Us!" And, of course, its impossible to tell these people it didn't work, because they characteristically take all evidence of public outrage as an indication of efficacy.

Nevertheless, I think - as surely anyone could have predicted - that the Xerox line not only fell flat, but clinched associations of Clinton with the hard-scrable politics of the mid-90s cultural wars which they would much rather forget.