December 1, 2007

Talk About Spin

Everyone expressed gratitude and relief at the end of the hostage crisis yesterday in Rochester, New Hampshire, when police arrested the disturbed man who created it. No one got hurt and a sick man will get the care he needs, and the community will receive protection from him as well. It demonstrated the competence and patience of the Rochester police department in resolving a standoff that only gained national attention because it took place in the campaign headquarters of Hillary Clinton.

Somehow, later that evening, the Clinton campaign decided this makes Hillary look presidential, at least to Larry Sabato and the AP:

And as soon as it ended, Clinton took full advantage of the opportunity she had unexpectedly been handed.

In her New Hampshire press conference, she stood before a column of police in green and tan uniforms. She talked of meeting with hostages. She mentioned that she spoke to the state’s governor about eight minutes after the incident began.

The scene was one of a woman in charge.

“It looked and sounded presidential,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “This was an instance of the White House experience of this campaign. They knew how to handle this.”

That the crisis was outside Clinton's control gave it a rare quality in this era of hyper-controlled politicking, Sabato added.

“What’s most important about it is that it’s not contrived. It’s a real event and that distinguishes it from 99 percent of what happens in the campaign season.”

Er, what? Sabato, who usually gives intelligent political analysis, must have inhaled a little deeply. Clinton was nowhere near New Hampshire during the entirety of the crisis. What was presidential about having the Rochester PD talk a hostage-taker out of a building? What "leadership" did Hillary show in Virginia during this crisis? She canceled a speech!

The AP's Glen Johnson is even worse. He breathlessly describes Hillary's efforts as "continu[ing] to call up and down the law enforcement food chain, from local to county to state to federal officials." The hostages were released within a couple of hours, and presumably their families had closer contacts with the PD, as they live closer to the offices than Virginia. "I knew I was bugging these people," Clinton told the AP, but she wanted to know minute-by-minute what was happening, so she could tell her staff and be prepared for whatever assistance she could lend. Which would be exactly .... what? If the PD wanted to have her call the ersatz bomber, they would know where to find her.

Hillary certainly didn't do anything wrong, but she didn't "take charge" as the AP implies, or look presidential, as Sabato declares. She certainly looks considerably less presidential today in trying to take credit for the professional work done by the Rochester PD yesterday. That looks a lot more like a politician than a President, and we already know her credentials for the former. This incident doesn't provide Hillary any credentials for the latter.

Jim Lynch has more thoughts, and wonders whether the FEC should consider the AP report an in-kind contribution.

UPDATE: The normally clear-headed Michael van der Galien makes a very strange argument, claiming an equivalency between Rudy's handling of 9/11 and Hillary's handling of this incident. I suppose that would make sense -- if Rudy hadn't been mayor of New York City, and if Rudy had been hundreds of miles away, and if Rudy had merely pestered local authorities for updates instead of actually taking charge because he was in charge. In short, Michael is very confused about the difference between a city-wide catastrophe and a run-of-the-mill hostage standoff, and their implications


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» AP: Hostage Sitiuation Gives Hillary Presidential Cred… from Right Voices
What? I, like Ed Morrissey, am a little stunned at how the actions of Clinton are being portrayed by Politico and the AP: Politico: In her New Hampshire press conference, she stood before a column of police in green and tan uniforms. She talked of mee... [Read More]

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