Go Ahead, Hillary - She Won't Bite! Ad Makers Struggle to Soften Stony Image

August 17th, 2006 8:07 AM

Imagine Bill Clinton in the setting shown here. Would he be standing at arm's length, tentatively extending a finger? Never! He'd be right down there hugging the child, probably - for that matter - getting an arm around Mom too.

That, in a nutshell, captures the problem campaign ad makers have in softening Hillary's frosty image.

There I was on the couch this morning in full pajamahadeen mode, searching for nuggets of MSM bias with which to titillate NB readers, when for the first time a Hillary campaign ad popped up. It's standard stuff. The theme is Hillary 'Standing Up': standing up for jobs, for military bases, for health care - seems the senator never sits down!  As I type this, a freeze frame shows a nicely-coiffed Hillary in a striped pink shirt and sporting a single strand of pearls. On a desk in the background you can discern family photos: Bill, Hillary and Chelsea in one, what looks like a young Chelsea as a ballerina in another.

Then came that moment that epitomized just what a tough job the advertising media folks face in warming up Hillary's chilly image. As the voice-over tells us that Hillary is "standing up for children's health care," we see Hillary in a little girl's hospital room. For the record, the girl is wearing a pink robe, and a woman standing bedside [presumably the mother] is also dressed in pink. There's a lot of pink in this ad.

Anyhow, Hillary stands at arm's length, and reaches out to stroke the little girl's hair. But she does so in the wan, tentative way in which you might pet someone else's cat, not quite sure you won't be bitten. It was a classic bit of Hillary trying - and not quite succeeding - to show a warm-'n-fuzzy side that just might not exist.

The ad closes with the choked-up father of another ill child for whom Hillary "stood up" [getting the hospital to pay for a certain treatment]. "How do you thank someone for saving your child's life?", he asks. Of course Hillary has the unstated answer: by voting for me!

Interestingly, while the ad says it is "approved by Hillary Clinton" and "paid for by friends of Hillary," it makes no reference to the only office for which she is an announced candidate: Senator from New York. This might really be looked upon as the first Hillary for President ad. We wish the ad makers good luck in portraying Hillary's softer side. They're going to need it.

Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY, where he hosts 'Right Angle,' the award-winning public-access TV show. Contact him at mark@gunhill.net