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December 21, 2007

Hillary: Have A Wonky Christmas, On You

One curious aspect to Hillary Clinton's new Christmas ad is that she didn't use viral technology at her website to spread it through the blogosphere. It only takes 30 seconds to understand why. Instead of exuding warmth or humor, it's a Very Wonkish Christmas, as Hillary inadvertently shows why statists haven't a clue about either Christmas or public policy. It's up at YouTube, however, and I'll post it here:

First, let's talk about the tone-deafness of the ad in terms of the holiday. John Edwards had at least some theological underpinning for using the holiday to remind us of those without at Christmas. It may not make for pleasant viewing, but it follows in the tradition of mercy, charity, and outreach, as did BandAid's "Do They Know It's Christmastime At All?" This, however, just manipulates Christmas into a series of visual billboards for policy slogans, such as "Universal Health Care", "Alternative Energy", and so on.

The cluelessness extends to the symbology as well. The Clinton campaign clearly wants to show that these gifts she's wrapping in the commercial are intended for American voters. These "gifts", however, don't come from Santa Claus. They'll come out of our own pocket. Perhaps Hillary has a habit of billing those on her gift exchange list, but the rest of us don't.

Jonah Goldberg agrees:

But if you take Hillary’s ad remotely as seriously as many are taking Huckabee’s, you’re left with a disturbing glimpse of not just Hillary’s politics but her vision of government. Her programs, which would cost billions and billions of dollars by even the most generous accounting, are simply “gifts” for the American people. No sacrifice, no cost, no strings attached at all — save the price of your vote.

The implication is that the only thing standing between you and Hillary’s trinkets is a president who doesn’t want you to have ’em. This is monarchical thinking; good ruler throws loaves of bread to the peons and asks for nothing but love in return.

The truth, as Clinton knows very well, is that it’s not so easy. To govern is to choose. “Give” the people X and it will come at the expense of Y. Indeed, until recently, Clinton’s whole schtick has been to emphasize that change is hard work, requiring sacrifice and compromise. She’d lecture Iowa audiences that real change comes from fighting for it. Now that she’s on the ropes, it’s all yours for the asking.

Jonah and I don't belong to the target audience, of course. Hillary wants to convince those who already consider the federal government a Santa Claus, or perhaps a Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives to the poor. Using Christmas to sell her statist policies only shows that the Hillary we know has no real emotional connection with the constituency she wants to lead. Instead, she keeps proving herself more a manipulator than a leader, and a wonk with little insight into what makes people tick.

BONUS QUESTION: How long will it be before CapQ commenter Teresa claims that this is satire?


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