As the dust slowly settles from last week’s tornado of political happenings, it seems that Richardson’s endorsement of Senator Obama last Friday might tell us more about the Clintons than it does about either Richardson or Obama.
Or, at least, that’s what political experts would like us to believe.
While Richardson’s show of support was well-worded and probably helped score some points for Obama by itself, it probably also provided a boost simply because of the discussion that followed.
What?!, the news slyly gasped. Richardson, a loyal Clinton ally who appeared at times to be begging for a VP or cabinet spot, was jumping ship?
This is media gold, folks. In a year where the pundits have made erroneous prediction after prediction, and where the nomination SNAFU is likely to drag on at least another two months, these characters have got to be thrilled about the story It has all the hallmarks of a ratings giant: a redemption story, a betrayal, and a snide villain.
Last week was a bit of a rough one for the Obama campaign. The Wright comments, the speech, and the aftermath were discussed, picked apart, and speculated about for days – indeed, it’s still going on.
But one thing the Clinton campaign has correctly (in my opinion) pointed out is that the media seem to have a huge crush on Obama. So, it was a double treat for these people: a huge ratings bonanza when there was a “scandal” and then a sigh of relief that Obama has seemingly managed to weather the storm. A good time was had by (almost) all.
Finally, at the end of a very long week, Bill Richardson swooped in to help revive lagging morale and to give Obama a boost both in the general polls and, ostensibly, with the so-called Latino vote. Richardson praised Obama as a “once-in-a-lifetime leader” and cited The Speech as what finally put him in the Obama camp. Whether this is true or simply conveniently timed politics doesn’t matter since the sound bites are so great.
Immediately after Richardson’s endorsement, the conversation naturally turned to talk of betrayal. Oh my, gasped the talking heads. Can you believe he turned on the Clintons like that? followed quickly by Godfatheresque implications that doing so isn’t a smart idea.
Somehow the fact that Richardson had spent Superbowl weekend with former President Clinton, his old boss, was especially noteworthy to the gleefully mock-horrified media.
Richardson himself helped feed the frenzy; when asked whether he’d told Senator Clinton personally about his decision, Richardson said that he had and that “Let me tell you…we’ve had better conversations.”
If you look carefully have eyes, you can almost see the BOOYAH in Chris Matthews’ eyes.
As you might imagine, the Clintons haven’t said much publicly about Richardson’s endorsement of Obama. Certainly it wouldn’t help them to discuss it, and I’d guess there’s a certain amount of hurt feelings going on as well.
But plenty of other people involved in the campaigns have jumped into the fray. Loony Cajun James Carville had perhaps the most shocking denouncement of Richardson’s Good Friday proclamation: “An act of betrayal. Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic.”
I’ve seen Mr. Carville in action for long enough to guess that he’s probably chuckling to himself about the great line he got off and high-fiving his shiny reflection in the mirror. It’s probable that he doesn’t really have this level of vitriol for Mr. Richardson; Carville’s a political animal through and through, and I’m thinking it’s probably all about the game to him. Normally, I find him a bit funny and more than a bit brilliant, but this comment is pretty disgraceful.
And, speaking of irony, Mr. Carville, I have a few things to say:
The type of irony Mr. Carville is referring to is usually known as situational irony, where something happens that’s the opposite from what the audience expects.
But in this scenario, nobody was really surprised by the Richardson nomination except perhaps the Clinton camp itself(and Mr. Carville, if he is to be believed). So perhaps Mr. Carville was instead appealing to the notion of tragic irony, defined by Merriam-Webster as:
incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play.
One thing I find a little hypocritical (and, all right, a little amusing) about the whole thing is that many of Senator Clinton’s more intense supporters have decried the Obama supporters as a cult who is all but ready to declare him some sort of messiah. But if you follow Carville’s statement to its logical terminus….
I think you know what I’m saying.
It’s probably a bit early to gauge whether or not Richardson’s support will give Obama a boost against Senator Clinton.
But if does, I hope it’s because the American public respects Bill Richardson and his endorsement of Obama’s message, not because the gossips have worked us into a lather over the back story.