Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Kettle Coloring Contest

To Catch a Thief
Published: February 20, 2008

Sometimes Maureen Dowd’s pop cultural references are a little obscure, like last column’s “caged bird sings” call-out. Other times she tosses big fat softballs.

Lenny and Squiggy were nowhere in sight.

But Hillary was doing her best to come across as a “Laverne & Shirley” factory girl as she headed away from not-a-chance Wisconsin and on to gotta-have Ohio.
No sooner does she mention Lenny and Squiggy than I am humming the Laverne and Shirley theme. And then three paragraphs later she is using the theme song as the true inner voice of the Clinton campaign. Dowd Report contributor yellojkt did a similar idea a few weeks back with a Billy Joel tune, but Dowd gets the idea down just right:
“Give us any chance, we’ll take it.
Give us any rule, we’ll break it.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true.
Doin’ it our way.”
And by “doin’ it our way,” Dowd means lying, cheating and scheming just like any silly caper the slightly slutty Laverne/Bill can talk the uptight but ambitious Shirley/Hillary into. In this episode, they accuse the Obama camp of stealing words from other well-spoken black politicians:
The Clinton camp has spent days trying to undermine Obama’s chief asset, the elegant language that has sparked a generational boom.

“We’re seeing a pattern here,” Hillary enforcer Howard Wolfson said, in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. Yeah, we are. She’s losing, and looking for anything to bruise Obama.

Obama swiped a couple distinctive riffs about words and aspirations — his supposed specialty — from his pal Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, thereby violating the new cardinal rule not only of politics but of life: Don’t do anything you don’t want to see on the top favorites of YouTube.
Maureen finds the perfect metaphor for this petty pilfering that manages to also mildy emasculate Obama:
He had credited Patrick in the past, and Patrick had channeled Obama when he ran for governor in ’06, so basically they’re like two roommates sharing clothes. Or two politicians sharing a strategist. Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, worked for Patrick in the gubernatorial bid.
And Dowd points out that in this kettle coloring contest, the Clintons have plenty of smudges on their face which leads to the Movies With Maureen® of the week, an Alfred Hitchcock classic about two jewel thieves after the same prize:
The Clintons are known political cat burglars. They pilfered Republican jewels in the ’90s, and Hillary has purloined as much as she can stuff in her pantsuit from her husband and Barack Obama.

She changed to Change. She co-opted “It’s time to turn the page” and “Fired up and ready to go.” She couldn’t wait to shoplift the words “yes” and “can” from Obama’s trademark “Yes, we can!” — (which he appropriated from Caesar Chavez) — even though she was cagey enough to put them in separate slogans, “Yes, we will!” and “Americans still have that can-do spirit.”

Bill, master thief, got in on the act, too. After Obama said that his election would tell the world that America is back, Bill said that Hillary’s election would tell the world that America is back.
And echoing earlier themes, Maureen takes a few cheap shots at the other spousal candidate for going off-message while getting in one last brewery pun:
The attribution problem might be small beer compared with Michelle Obama’s comment in Milwaukee on Monday: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”

It’s a discordant note for the stylish, brainy 44-year-old Princeton and Harvard Law School grad. Cindy McCain showed that Republicans would jump right on a line like that, and twist it into something that sounded extremist and unpatriotic.
But even this little cat-fight hiss gets turned around into a back-handed stab at the Clintons:
Given the way the Clintons unfairly turn the tables, we’re only moments away from Hillary asking Obama: “Can’t you control your spouse?”
Which is a episode we will have to tune in for next week as Labama and Billary fight over superdelegate Carmine "The Big Ragoo" Ragusa only to confuse him with Tony "The Landlord" Rezko. Hilarity ensues.

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