Once a lawyer

A reasonable analysis of Clinton’s campaign in the WSJ.

Despite her long exposure to the national limelight, she came late in life to a political career of her own, and has worked to develop her own voice. For example, she has never found it easy to give simple answers to questions. As First Lady, she once listened as White House press secretary Joe Lockhart briefly distilled for President Clinton what he, the aide, would tell reporters about some complex foreign-policy news.

She took him aside afterward, he says. “How do you do that?” she asked. “I need to learn how to do that. I was trained as a lawyer — I’ve always made an argument in paragraphs. I need to learn to speak in sound bites.” That was his clue, he recalls, that she was contemplating a Senate run.

Interesting take on how her approach to political rhetoric has changed over the years; she’s learned how to simplify from lawyer-jargon. That didn’t help her in the last debate, though, as she is still somewhat unwilling to give quick, decisive answers on charged topics. It doesn’t help, of course, that on the campaign trail, a single misplaced qualifier can erase weeks of careful stumping.

As the article details later on, she has made up her mind never to apologize for the Iraq vote. At this point she’s probably right to do so, speaking purely in a cynical manner – she needed to clean that slate long before her opponents took up the anti-war rhetoric.

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