Kathleen Parker

Just when you thought there was no one left to pander to, the three candidates for Leader of the Free World found an untapped demographic: the professional-wrestling audience.

Talkin' tough never looked sillier -- nor a presidential race more embarrassing. Give people enough time and exposure and they'll eventually become caricatures of themselves. This week, Hillary "Annie Oakley" Clinton, Barack "Howard Dean" Obama and John "I Was A POW" McCain proved the rule, surpassingly, with ads prepared for a special episode of World Wrestling Entertainment's "Raw" that aired on the eve of the Pennsylvania primary.

For her performance, Clinton wore a colorful scarf and introduced herself: "Hi. I'm Hillary Clinton, but tonight, in honor of the WWE, you can call me Hill-Rod. This election is starting to feel a lot like 'King of the Ring.' The only difference? The last man standing may just be a woman."

Hill-Rod? Would that be Hill-Rod The Obliterator? Perhaps in keeping with her new smackdown persona, Clinton was also talking tough to Iran this week. On Tuesday's "Good Morning America," she was asked what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.

"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton said. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

Steady.

In an apparent attempt to obliterate Obama, Clinton hauled out her own nuke in another ad leading up to the Pennsylvania primary, featuring that consummate boogeyman, Osama bin Laden. As in, whom can Americans trust when things really get scary?

The ad includes the famous Harry Truman quote, which seemed to foreshadow Obama's wrestler message.

Said Truman: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

Said Obama: "To the special interests who've been setting the agenda in Washington for too long (blahblahblah) ... I've got one question: Do you smell what Barack is cookin'?"

Just a guess: Iranians? McCain's goose? Or would that be the banded duck Hillary claims to have shot as first lady of Arkansas?

At least Obama conveyed with a self-aware smile that he was in on his own joke. It can't have been easy for this serious man to play along with this absurd ruse.

For the record, both Clinton and Obama were asked by WWE's vice president of communications, Gary Davis, to tape the videos. Davis said he hoped they would have fun with their message, but "we also want our fans to learn about you and your direction for our country."


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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