The Goo Is Over? ABC Pounds Hillary on Gas Taxes, Iran, Wright

ABC’s Nightline featured yet another Cynthia McFadden trip with Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail Thursday, but it wasn’t all sympathetic questions about how hard it is to be a feminist pioneer. (There was one about how all the criticism must be hard on her mother.) Instead, on the trail in Indiana, McFadden pushed hard from the left on how Barack Obama thought her gas-tax holiday proposal was "phony" and "pandering," and how columnist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times thought it was "ridiculous," and how Iran thought her remarks about them were irresponsible. She also wondered if the Reverend Wright issue was "guilt by association...Does it worry you a little bit about the taint of association? Because, you know, you’ve been tarred by the same brush over the years."

McFadden began somewhat sympathetically, although it wasn’t good news, about how Indiana superdelegate Joe Andrew switched sides to Obama, despite President Clinton making him DNC chairman in the late 1990s. Then she switched to arguing against any gas-tax relief:

"I wanted to ask you about the gas tax holiday. There’s been a lot of pushback. Barack Obama and others saying this is really a phony, a pandering plan that really would save most Americans only $28 in the course of the summer." Hillary replied it was "more of a $70 savings."

McFadden kept hammering. "Tom Friedman in the New York Times yesterday, perhaps you saw it, says that this is a ridiculous proposal, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation that it takes your breath away. He cites experts saying it will simply increase demand and take us exactly in the wrong direction by reducing the price somewhat over the summer." Hillary replied "Well, that’s a really elitist view, because a lot of people are trying to get from day to day, paycheck to paycheck."

ABC then moved on to Hillary’s provocative comments about Iran. McFadden asked, "Late last night, the Iranian government pushed back to a comment that you made a week ago when you said that should Iran use nuclear weapons that the U.S. would totally obliterate the country. They call your remarks provocative, unwarranted, and irresponsible."

Hillary pushed right back: "Well, that’s kind of strange coming from a provocative, irresponsible regime as we have currently in Iran." Then, she tried to tone it down: "And I would try to get to the negotiating table in as quick a manner as I could. But I also believe we have to do everything possible to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."

McFadden asked where Bill Clinton’s office would be in the White House, which is an awkward question. Hillary strangely said "I don’t think he’s going to have an office," that he’ll be too busy with his foundation. McFadden thought that sounded unfair: "Well, you have had a West Wing office. You’re not going to give him one?" Hillary protested: "Well, I gave up everything when I went into the White House, you know, 15 years ago."

Then she mentioned Hillary was campaigning with her mother and daughter: "You have your posse with you today." She noted Hillary "admits" criticism is hard on her mother. "She must want to wring a few necks occassionally." Hillary replied that she says "When you were a little girl, I didn’t worry that much. But as you’ve gotten older I just worry all the time. So it kind of goes with the Mom territory. And I’m the designated worrier in my family, and I think most mothers are."

McFadden asked that since Obama gave a dramatic speech on race, whether Hillary would give a dramatic speech on gender, "which many consider as divisive, as important, as perplexing, troubling." Hillary demurred, saying she lives that every day, but "I think that most people are, you know, really coming to grasp what a significant, historical candidacy mine is."

From there, it turned to what McFadden called Obama’s "reluctant renunciation" of his Reverend Wright.

McFADDEN: Has Barack Obama at this point gone far enough to satisfy you that Reverend Wright does not represent his point of view?

CLINTON: Well, it’s not me. It’s up to voters to decide what to make of this.

McFADDEN: But what do you make of all of this?

CLINTON: Well, I thought that, you know, Reverend Wright’s comments were deeply objectionable. The idea that the United States government invented AIDS, I mean, that is so outlandish that you know, everyone should be offended.

McFADDEN: Is it guilt by association? I mean, at this point. Because he’s now said I disavow this. Does it worry you a little bit about the taint of association? Because, you know, you’ve been tarred with the same brush over the years.

CLINTON: Well, when you run for the presidency, everything in your life is an open book.

That’s a wild statement, ignoring that the Clintons are incredibly slow to let records leak out of the Clinton presidential library, and have yet to release a list of donors (especially big foreign donors) to the Clinton library and foundation.

McFadden concluded by giving Hillary a platform to sum up her candidacy with another stunning line: "I don’t try to be anything I’m not. I am, you know, I am what I am." Conservatives see her saying that in a drawling Southern accent with a Yankees hat on. McFadden called her "an unrepentant fighter who all these months later is still in it to win it."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis