June 26, 2007

The Hillary-Carmela Connection

Did Hillary Clinton inadvertently underscore the ambivalence felt by some Americans over her role in her husband's scandals in a humorous campaign ad last week? Margaret Carlson believes that Hillary made a mistake in playing the Carmela role in her Sopranos spoof, and that voters may see her in a similar light to Edie Falco's compromised and enabling wife:

The ad touches close to the mother lode of Hillary's vulnerability among some women. When you ask them why they don't like her, they say it's because they don't understand why she makes goo-goo eyes at a guy who broke her heart multiple times and humiliated her daughter. After that, pretending to be a teenager in love makes them wonder what else she might be faking.

The Carmela-Hillary juxtaposition has been made before by others, and not in Hillary's favor. For staying with a repeat philanderer, Carmela got to live in a McMansion, wear expensive jewelry and wield derivative power as Queen Bee of the mob families. Hillary got to be first lady with a good shot at the White House.

If Hillary's hoping we'll be kinder to her than Chase was to Carmela, it's hard to see why she would tempt the comparison herself. The only possible rationale is that every time voters are reminded how bad Bill is, her numbers go up. She might not be the senator from New York were it not for Monica Lewinsky.

At first, I thought the ad was rather clever, and good politics to boot. After all, nothing sells like self-deprecation. Hillary had to know how a large number of American voters see her, as a calculating and conniving woman who clung to her philandering husband strictly for political gain. The ad skewered this perception a little, had great cultural resonance at the moment, and tweaked David Chase by actually providing a straightforward ending.

Carlson's point is worth considering, though. The ad clearly aimed at people who watched the final Sopranos episode, but these are people who have steeped in Carmela's denial and sellout for eight years. That same exact dynamic appeared throughout the Clintons' terms in office but especially after the Lewinsky affair in 1997. After sending his wife out as an attack dog, allowing her to accuse people of lying to torpedo her husband, Bill had to appear on national TV to admit everything of which he was accused.

Inexplicably, this created a short burst of sympathy for Hillary -- which quickly receded when her appearances reminded people that she isn't terribly sympathetic. She stuck with Bill and, as Carlson mentions, put on an act in front of cameras that made the two look like teenagers in school defiantly daring teachers to give them referrals for PDAs. (If you're over 35, you'll know what that means.) Clearly she knows what she gets with Bill, and the rational conclusion is that she's sticking around for some reason that benefits her, and given his serial indiscretions, those reasons don't appear marital. Voters inclined to distrust her for these reasons alone may find those reservations reinforced, and others reminded of a certain lack of authenticity that has been the hallmark of the Clintons all along.

She may have scored a few points for hipness with this ad. In the long run, though, equating Bill with Tony Soprano and herself with Carmela may have a kind of resonance that she'll regret as her campaign progresses.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (20)

Posted by Paul A'Barge | June 26, 2007 8:41 AM

You mean like a Palm Pilot?

Posted by E9RET | June 26, 2007 9:01 AM

I am SO glad I never watched the Supranos. But now I have to read between the lines on all of the Supranos' based postings here and on other blogs and newpaper columns.

Oh, and I'm glad I've avoided that other TV crack, "24"

Posted by harleycon5 | June 26, 2007 9:56 AM

I don't see how this is a problem to Hillary; in fact, I think this was precisely the idea that she wants. After all, Hillary got her best numbers as the long suffering woman who had to "deal with Bill". I personally see her as something of a opportunist, extremely aggressive gold digger willing to overlook any trasgression by her husband for her own political career, but she could care less about people like me.

Hillary wants women to vote for her, and she certainly understands that men in our society have become the wink-n-nod scapegoat for just about any problem some women have.
Certainly we have heard some women complain to their friends about "guy X" and they all say, "Oh they are all like that".

What would be the attitude if men were to say "All women are -----"? (you fill in the blank with anything less than favorable) and will soon realize there is a double standard. And this is what Hillary hopes for.

It is not SHE who is the unethical one, she is simply the long suffering woman married to a powerful unethical man. If she seems shrill or angry, who can blame her? This is the plan.

But will the ploy work?

Posted by SSG Fuzzy | June 26, 2007 10:29 AM

Not a Soprano's fan and haven't seen the Hillary piece, but I thought I heard that Hillary was actually playing Tony's part/lines?

Posted by KauaiBoy | June 26, 2007 10:44 AM

Unfortunately, David Chase's weak story lines resulted in most men hating the majority of female characters in the Sopranos and indicative of some kind of suppressed angry homosexuality in Chase. I never needed a stretched out storyline to despise Hillary---she is not likeable, divisive to the nation and has never said anything I could believe (or could support). Once again the media spin doctors of the Clintonistas are trying to create some kind of fantasy world where people like Hillary seem normal and right for America. I always preferred the far superior writing of Deadwood where Hillary would fit the part of Trixie the Whore.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | June 26, 2007 10:52 AM

Captain, I don't question that you are speaking thoughtfully and sincerely in reflecting Carlson's analysis that some voters may actually question Hillary's character. I think Carlson is engaging in wishful thinking that these voters would be so critical of Hillary. Balance Carlson's analysis against the poll showing that 31% of registered democrats believe that 9/11 was an inside job and it is impossible to conclude that Hillary does not get the nomination in 08. Logic has very little to do with this calculation.

With her husband by her side, she now polls consistently 10 points above Obama, who is looking younger and more inexperienced each day. This "stand by your man" pap sells off the coasts in the heartland and that is precisely where Hillary is weakest.

Trust your instincts, Captain. The ad was a stroke of genius and a harbinger of things to come from the designing women of Team Hillary.

Posted by jat | June 26, 2007 10:58 AM

The "HilHandlers" knew what they were doing - using any tactic that could equate to votes for HRC. She is cold and will do anything to obtain the title of "Most Powerful Woman in the World."

RNC had better field a very strong candidate or we will have another 4 year of a Clinton in the White House.

Posted by mrmurph | June 26, 2007 12:35 PM


"...Bill had to appear on national TV to admit everything of which he was accused. "

I don't remember Bill Clinton ADMITTING squat. What he said could be construed as innocuous or serious, depending on how you define the words.

BTW, Hillary was Tony and Bill was Carmella in the video. There must be some deeper meaning in that.

Posted by carol h | June 26, 2007 12:40 PM

Hilary's ad put her in the Tony role and Bill in the Carmela role. Marget Carlson, one of Fred Thompson's ex-girlfriends, had it backwards. I always wonder why the oh-so-religious and Christian conservatives don't get the reality of the Clinton's long term marriage. If you are married a long time you realize that your spouse is not perfect and probably makes the same mistakes over and over again. Bill broke Hillary's heart, but they worked on their marriage and kept it together. Although the current standards of most people is that you dump your spouse and he or she dissapoints you, the Clinton's are still married. No one knows what goes on in someone else's marriage, but the fact that they worked through their problems is a positive, not a negative. They could have acted live Guilliani, Thompson, McCain or Gingrich and just dumped the spouse for a newer model but they didn't.

Posted by k2aggie07 | June 26, 2007 2:17 PM

Give me a break Carol. Their relationship isn't a marriage of love -- its of convenience.

If you think for one minute that they stuck together through repeated incidents of infidelity out of love, you're exactly the kind of sucker she's looking for.

Posted by Mister_Dobolina_Mister_Bob_Dobolina | June 26, 2007 2:27 PM

Savor the CDS. This analysis is right up there with Althouse.

Posted by always right | June 26, 2007 2:38 PM

The ad was a stroke of genius and a harbinger of things to come from the designing women of Team Hillary.
Posted by: Angry Dumbo at June 26, 2007 10:52 AM

Exactly how many people watch that program? (I didn't, and I never will) Which translated to what percentage of the actual voters?

I don't know about the genius of That Woman and her team. It just seemed to me that they are portraying Hillary as a "warm bodied something with a sense of humor". Which Hillary is definitely NOT, and end result leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.

Ask yourself the question: Why do you choose POTUS as someone you like (popularity poll), instead of someone you trust will upheld/defend the Constitution?

Posted by The Man | June 26, 2007 2:42 PM

I guess their wedding vows mean more to the Clintons then they did to the top republican candidates. Apparently if you "stand by your man" you have an agenda...and if you leave your a republican!

Posted by patrick neid | June 26, 2007 3:53 PM

hillary could care less about virtually anything. she has all the majors in her hip pocket. she just added warren buffet, although he wouldn't admit it. the democratic primary season it solely for airing ideas--real live poll testing. whatever appears to work, she will adopt. the other candidates are running because they have too much time on their hands and they love seeing themselves on tv.

in the general election she is very close to a lock. close being the operative word. as i have said before she will get 90% of the black, hispanic and jewish vote. that accounts for over 20% of the entire electorate. she simply needs 30.1% of the remainder. the repubs are in trouble. bush's immigration bill is not helping.

while it is still very early tradesport has a dem, any dem, being any repub for president by 14 points.

Posted by carol h | June 26, 2007 3:59 PM

K2 aggie, did I mention love? I did not. I said that people who are in long term marriage work things out. They may or may not love each other, I have no way of knowing that and neither do you. I know that they have kept their marriage together, which is more than any of the major republican candidates have done, with the exception of Romney. Guiliiani has left two wives, which means that when the going gets rough, Rudy gets gone.

Posted by HJT | June 26, 2007 4:02 PM

I've pondered the marriage of these two and believe that in their relationship his "fooling around" is not cause for her concern. It's only when it becomes common knowledge that Hillary is required to notice. I believe they have some type of understanding and, for whatever reason, she truly doesn't fault his affairs unless they are brought to her attention. She has looked past dozens (if he can be believed) and she has her own agenda that is unchanged by his behavior. Since he has already trashed the image of the President as role model, I suppose lots of people look right past her own scary persona.

Posted by smylatu | June 26, 2007 4:31 PM

I think the Captain is right on (and I'm old enough to know what PDA means, but we won't go there....) I cannot respect (or vote) for a woman or man who chooses to stay with a philandering spouse. I understand the concept of forgiveness, but again and again....that's just stupidity or low self esteem or a calculated step to obtain a goal by acting as the dutiful wife "standing by her man". This backfires with me. Does Hillary not have the confidence that she can be president without Bill by her side? She doesn't deserve my vote or anyone elses (even if I did agree with her policies, which I don't).

Posted by Rose | June 26, 2007 11:10 PM

Yeah, I thought it the first INSTANT I saw the story on this ad - what a stroke of sheer genius - they finally reach a point where all the underbelly escapades of the Clintons are no longer first thing on the tips of every tongue - and they compare themselves to the Mafia.

Especially since they made the Mafia look so very TAME by comparison to their administration, anyway!


Of course, I heard the very first radio broadcast of a Larry Nichols interview, anyway.

Terrific of Hillary to remind everyone of ALL that comes with having one of THEM in office!

Posted by Consul-At-Arms | June 26, 2007 11:41 PM

This analysis is completely bass-akwards:

Hillary was substituting for the Tony character and Bill for the Carmella character!

Posted by Steve | June 27, 2007 5:49 AM

It's absolutely clear that Hillary was in the Tony role, which really ads to the video's creepiness. When is the last time a presidential candidate willingly compared herself with a homicidal sociopath? And the squirm-inducing way she makes Bill eat carrot sticks, man, what a great metaphor for how she's going to treat the american public if she's elected.

I think the media loves this kind of stuff because the savvy urbanite sees the Sopranos characters as hip and cool. They don't stop to see exactly what is being suggested here. Plus, let's face it, they love Hillary. So, next up, Hillary channels Ted Bundy!