Ms. Saturday Night

by Terry Michael
February 26, 2008

Ms. Saturday Night’s Desperation
Flailing Away with Bloodless Process Liberalism

A final flailing maneuver of losing Democratic candidates seems to be embracing bloodless Process Liberalism--non-substantive gruel ladled by operatives so addled by failure they start confusing the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and aging Baby Boom political reporters with actual participants in primaries and caucuses.

Like the sagging Billy Crystal character reduced to working nursing homes, Hillary Inc. has become “Ms. Saturday Night.” Failing to connect with voters on her “experience” and her “solutions,” Ms. Clinton has now been reduced to pushing the hot buttons of wrinkled left liberals in the Washington ethics industry, and fifty- and sixty-something journalists whose first big presidential campaign was circa 1988, or somewhere in that century.

So, the First Lady-in-Chief is now:

--Demanding more debates, which we’ve endured ad nauseam, and which have devolved into info-mercials for cable TV networks.

--Assaulting the Senator from Hope (expressed in verklempt, New York-ish mock disbelief) for not promising in February, to the Republican half of the McCain-Feingold attack on political speech, that he’ll agree to stick taxpayers with the bill for the November campaign.

--And claiming her opponent is copping speech phrases from another politician, as Joe Biden was charged with way back in 1987.

Some of us have seen this movie before.

Return to yesteryear, fellow old people, and you’ll recall how Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, being liberal-ly defined by the Bush 41 campaign, approved a 30-second spot he thought would be a bigger killer than Willie Horton. Selected from scores produced by dozens of frustrated media consultants, “They want to sell you a package. Wouldn't you rather choose a President?” was tapped by the Massachusetts process liberal as his idea of what would turn on the electorate. “Those unfair, nasty Republicans,” seemed to be Dukakis’ “message” to voters, who were more interested in urban crime and the last days of the cold war than the naughtiness of Bush’s message makers.

So, let’s de-construct Ms. Clinton’s attempts to pander to the goo-goo (=“good government”) process concerns of lefties and blurry memories of a geriatric press corps.

Obama wouldn’t debate for the entertainment of eat-cheese-or-die types. Correct. He was too busy talking directly to them, camping out in Wisconsin after the Potomac primaries, while Ms. Clinton’s only presence in the state was her 30-second spot claiming he wouldn’t debate in Velveeta-land. Refusing to debate for the 675th time? Workers of Madison unite!

He should be held to his “promise” to get the Senator from McCain-Feingold to act like...well, the Senator from McCain-Feingold, and practice virtuous campaigning at taxpayer expense. Hello! Is Hillary declaring the primaries over, advantage Barack, time to start general election negotiations? Absolute nonsense, it needs no further verbal bludgeoning here. (Disclosure: this libertarian Democrat writer despises McInsane-Feinbull, though he personally prefers Sen. Obama, who needs re-education on that subject.)

And, finally....

He is plagiarizing Deval Patrick. This is a silly attempt by the Clinton camp to jerk the chains of scribbling codgers who covered the first attempt of the Mouth of Wilmington to ascend to Leader of the Free World in 1987. If you’re under 35, Google it and you’ll learn that Irish-American Sen. Joseph Biden attempted to re-cycle lines from the “Welsh Windbag,” British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock.

But, as Sen. Biden learned and Sen. Clinton is learning, it ain’t the meat, it’s the emotion that counts when orating and selling 10-point proposals. Leadership is not about making plans. It’s about creating followers.

And, if you think you just had an original thought or came up with a beautiful piece of language, Google that, too, and see how many other great minds think alike. As someone who spent 17 years as a press secretary, never once--shockingly!--was I credited publicly for a line I wrote. It’s called ghost-writing and doesn’t have a thing to do with plagiarism. It’s exactly what Sen. Clinton did in her tear-jerking close in the Texas debate, when she lifted a riff from both her husband and John Edwards.

“Mr. Saturday Night” certainly is not a perfect analogy for Bill and Hill’s big come-back attempt, but viewing the DVD may be more useful than spending too much of your time watching any of The Best Political Reporting Teams in the Cable Babble Universe, if you wish to understand why it is over for Ms. Saturday Night.
A former DNC press secretary, “libertarian Democrat” Terry Michael teaches journalism students about politics, and writes personal opinion at


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