Slouching Toward Caucus Day
Hillary and Obama and mortgage misfortune
It was one of the most fascinating, but least commented-upon moments of the week. Perhaps only the Reasonable Reporter and Joe Harrington from KOLO noticed, although it hardly seems possible, given the number of eyeballs and cameras trained on Hillary Clinton when she sat down with Nevadans for a roundtable at Bertha Miranda’s on Saturday. Here’s what happened.
One of the locals at Clinton’s table spoke at length about her mortgage misadventures. After a series of transactions with lenders who got her into a house at the peak of the market, and then couldn’t deliver refinancing, the woman has been using credit cards to pay her mortgage. The monthly payment has nearly doubled, the value of the house has dropped, and she’s facing foreclosure.
When the story concluded, it was Clinton’s cue to respond. As she began to speak, Clinton brushed her finger lightly across her cheek. It was a casual, and yet a lingering physical gesture.
It’s quite possible a tiny flake of mascara had fallen onto the cheek of the former first lady. Or did a twitching facial muscle need soothing? Maybe it was an itch and not a twitch. Or, for crying out loud – which Clinton wasn’t – maybe the woman in the next chair had uttered the word “foreclosure” with an overly forceful “f,” propelling a saliva droplet onto the former first lady, and Clinton needed to politely dispatch the miniscule bit of fluid from her face.
The Reasonable Reporter would consider any of the above a perfectly good explanation, were it appropriate to ask for explanation. Joe Harrington noticed, and wondered the obvious. He used the shot to tease his story on channel 8 that night. Was Hillary Clinton crying again?
Clinton’s roundtable was focused on the financial hardships of the middle class. Two days later, Barack Obama performed essentially the same event, sitting with similarly challenged Nevadans in a meeting room at the Reno Events Center.
These back-to-back events did more to differentiate the two candidates than almost anything else the campaigns have presented to date. But not on policy, particularly.
The Clinton conversations took place in a Mexican restaurant. There were a dozen or more participants at the table. The format was formal. Each guest introduced him or herself, and used a hand-held microphone to tell a story. Clinton, also using a hand-held mic, responded to each story with a critique of current policy, and the changes she would offer. It was neat and tidy, organized and smart, as was she. The place was jam-packed, but it was not a large place. Two hundred or so may be a generous estimate.
Obama’s roundtable was a media-only event. He had four people at the table, badly amplified, and there was no camera platform, which meant the TV cameras hogged the front line, and almost everyone else peered beneath the armpits of camera operators, stooped to look between the legs of tripods, or hugged a side wall to glimpse the proceedings.
(The thought that goes into preparing for media is always interesting. The press RSVP was the most wretched of all communication tools, the online form. It offered the following choices to identify the needs of the news organization: photography, video, print, internet, other. Yes, “other.” Radio, the Rodney Dangerfield of news media does have technical needs. We need to jack in for audio, and high-quality audio is apreciated, thank you. And just because the listeners can’t see the action doesn’t mean the reporter doesn’t need to see it.)
Obama’s interaction with his hand-picked Nevadans was intimate, (under the circumstances) with the candidate resting his chin in his hand as he looked earnestly into the eyes of each speaker. He interjected comments as they spoke, rather than waiting for them to finish. Even made a rueful quip or two, which seemed not to bother his guests, and it was something a friend might do, listening to an unremittingly grim tale of luckless occurrences.
He offered less in the way of substance than did Clinton, and this is notable. Obama is Obama when he’s before a crowd. At a table, he’s just another guy, and a bit of a slow talker at that.
Obama and Clinton both blame the business model that has Wall Street packaging mortgage-backed securities. But his criticism of Washington was more widely spread than Clinton’s. She blamed the Bush administration. He blamed the Washington establishment and lobbyists.
Obama then held a rally on the main floor of the Events Center, where the crowd pushed 2,000. This in contrast to the Sunday appearance at TMCC by Bill Clinton, where the crowd pushed 500. Both are rock stars, and both were wildly received. For the record, a wild reception by 2,000 sounds like ten freight trains.
Obama made his standard hope-and-change stump speech. The former president made his standard speech for Hillary, which included – The Reasonable Reporter made it a point to count them this time – 20 references to himself and his own presidency in a 39 minute speech. That’s a bit more than one every two minutes, for the math-challenged..Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.