Monday, January 14, 2008

Off-the-Cuff Clinton

Hillary Clinton is viewed with wariness by many Democratic voters, because, to quote Robert Farley, "Hillary's reputation is farther left than her policies." But at the same time, I think her instincts are more progressive than her tightly controlled political persona indicates. Consider this off the cuff remark at a Nevada rally that's ignited a firestorm on the right:
Answering a shout from a man in the crowd who said, "I'm married to an illegal woman," Clinton shot back, "No woman is illegal," grinning as the packed Mexican restaurant at which she was speaking exploded in cheers.

That comment, reported in Friday's Review-Journal, caught the attention of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs and the Drudge Report and led to nearly 1,000 angry comments on the newspaper's Web site.

To put the remark into context, Clinton did add, after a pause, "... and no man, either." She then explained her position on immigration.

That's not the type of statement you expect to hear from Clinton. It's not just that it's unabashedly progressive. It's also aggressive -- her words were guaranteed to prick the skin of any conservative within earshot. Clinton certainly is no stranger to raging conservative, but rarely does she directly provoke the controversy. I doubt she was planning on doing so here -- but she made an instinctive response, and it was more combative and more liberal than we've come to expect from her.

Is it a good political move? I have no idea. But I like the instincts it shows.

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