The Bureau for a Likable and Authentic Hillary (BLAH) at the Clinton Empire is faltering. It failed again this weekend with Hillary Clinton’s cringe worthy performance on Saturday Night Live. From Clinton’s awkward singing to the appearance by a Bill Clinton character that veered on the insulting, I am surprised that the reviews in the media aren’t worse than they have been. Exactly who was supposed to relate to whom when the Bill Clinton character showed up in the skit, saw what he thought were two copies of his wife and fled in horror? Really? Was the likable Bill Clinton fleeing at the sight of Hillary Clinton supposed to make her seem more likable?
Anyway, Hillary Clinton has gone from hiding from the media to stepping out in carefully selected appearances to make herself seem more approachable, likable, authentic, spontaneous, etc., but even then, she doesn’t always help her cause. In addition to her awkward scripted appearance, she had another awkward unscripted performance this weekend courtesy of a curt exchange with “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie in New Hampshire. Clinton clearly wasn’t ready to be asked about how she has trouble connecting with voters or for pointed questions about her e-mails. Clinton did not have any authentic-sounding responses and came across as uncomfortable and cold, despite her efforts to appear enthusiastic and relaxed. Maybe Clinton thought it was going to be a softball interview and was caught off-guard. But I think among real journalists, the days of the syrupy-sweet, friendly interview are mostly over. The journalists know they are being critiqued for what they ask almost as much as the candidates are being critiqued for how they answer. If the interviewer doesn’t ask the obvious tough questions, they are immediately skewered on cable news, twitter, blogs and elsewhere.
All that said, Clinton does have a decent lead in the polls, despite Sen. Bernie Sanders’ momentum. I’m sure the Clinton campaign is sweating the potential of a Vice President Joe Biden candidacy, because even if he can’t beat her, Biden will erode her establishment support and make it easier for Sanders to win primaries with a plurality.
Anyway, the Clinton campaign is now confronted with a real conundrum. If she doesn’t speak to the press and have face time with voters, she will be under attack for hiding. But when she does get out there, her performance isn’t what her handlers and supporters want — and need — it to be. I can’t imagine that Clinton’s recent performances are reassuring to worried supporters or uncertain Democrats who are evaluating her candidacy. The Clinton campaign is officially a slog.