Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Big Girls Do Cry: A Pavlovian Interpretation

The New York Times informs us that accordin' to the Clinton Herself, the weekend debate was what put her over the top with the voters in the recent Democratic contretemps in the Granite State.

It was a more subtle play than that. Much more subtle and much more cynical.

What happened, you say? Clearly, the Clinton Machine knew that they could get out the votes if only, if only they had a sure fire, never-fail selling point.

Well, they had one of a lachrymose nature and it was the only card they had left to play.

Parenthetically, it's a gender specific strategy as well. Simply stated, girls can cry in public-but not the kind of screaming and flailing that labels one as hysterical-what's wanted is the trembling lower lip, the discreet dab with a handkerchief kind of 'the bastards did it to us again' kind of thing.

Pull this off and you invoke the kind of victim empathy that Ed Muskie could only dream of on the long bus ride home to wherever he came from.

Sooner or later, somebody's going to toss the race bomb at Senator Obama.

He won't be able to break down in tears unless he wants to be on the next plane back to Chicago. No, he'll do as men have always done, and that means he'll suck it up and deal with it.

That's what comes along with the snips and snails and puppy dog's tails, ladies.

But how to stage it so it didn't look so....well....contrived?

The execution was simple.

Pick something that would reach the choice demographic-older white women with a buried sense of victimization against...well, against whatever: the glass ceiling, all the men in power, the unrealized opportunities and unfulfilled aspirations.

Pick a forum where a fellow traveler might be expected to probe a little bit into personal matters, and then strike while the cameras were rolling.

Thus it was that Marianne Pernold Young, a woman who alleges she was an undecided voter threw the slow pitch that Herself knocked out of the park.

Young alleges that later she voted for Obama but I figure that only means the Clinton Machine could afford to lose one vote as something of a fig leaf and get themselves the kind of plausible deniability that the Clintons do so well.

On cue, the voice lowered half an octave and it became a real, woman to woman moment of carefully staged, manicured, scripted ersatz truth-and just as Pavlov's dogs began to drool on command when the bell rang, the victims trooped to the polls and did what they were programmed to do their entire lives.

Surprised? Not me. Look at the demographics and the exit polls.


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