“It was such an awkward moment, much of the commentariat hasn’t figured out exactly what to say about it, starting with Clinton herself. At first she tried to explain that she was thinking of Osama bin Laden and Bush’s inability to capture him. Later, she claimed she was making a joke — just not about her husband.
“From my own viewing of the video — you can find it on YouTube and elsewhere — Hillary wasn’t making any joke at all. She was merely the butt of one and laughed along with the crowd — without getting the joke — in an excruciating ‘I meant to do that’ sort of way….”
Senator Clinton has claimed that nobody mistook her reaction for a joke at Bill’s expense — ostensibly untrue. Nobody would have laughed otherwise. But what if Hillary really didn’t get the joke? In that case, says Jonah, she’s a lousy politician:
“She comes across as stiffer than Trent Lott’s hair and more tightly wound than a rubber-band ball. Even sympathetic reporters write about her as if her id were a tiny little general in an immense war room plotting every move on maps sprawled out in front of her. Clinton’s inadvertent joke wasn’t part of her plan, even though the audience in her town halls and Internet chat sessions is pre-selected. And when forced to explain something off-script, she wobbles like a tightrope walker who missed a step.
“The amazing thing is that she gets away with this. Although everyone understands that Clinton takes positions on issues based on political calculation, it somehow doesn’t count against her. A recent episode of Saturday Night Live captured the essence of Clinton nicely. ‘I think most Democrats know me,’ the fake Clinton told a fake Chris Matthews. ‘They understand that my support for the war was always insincere. Of course, knowing what we know now, that you could vote against the war and still be elected president, I would never have pretended to support it.'”