When it comes to original video, YouTube is a great place for viral video, fun video, dirty video, stupid video, quirky video, and creative video. It has been and will be home to history-changing gotcha moments and blistering 30-second ads. It is not, however, generally a great place for a policy debate, and Hillary was smart enough to take a fun community and put it on a fun task.
She took the opportunity to poke some fun at herself, promising she wouldn’t sing the song in public, and replaying that horrendous rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” she got caught bellowing at an Iowa campaign event.
A disturbing thing happened while I was watching that video. I smiled. At Hillary Clinton.
Hillary garnered many responses, many votes at her campaign website, and the video has been viewed more than 550,000 times.
Her follow-up YouTube video was even more disturbing than the first. God help me, I laughed. Not at Hillary Clinton, but with her.
She once again took the opportunity to be deftly self-deprecating, letting the camera “catch” her swaying absent-mindedly to the music. She embraced the ridiculousness of YouTube by featuring YouTubers who had chosen to sing a campaign song for her. And, best of all, she poked fun at her own idea by running clips of YouTubers who called her question, “insulting,” “disappointing,” “stupid,” and “are you freakin’ kidding me?”
And, thus, Hillary became the confident, good-humored foil to the few ultra-hip but ultra-haughty members of the YouTube nation. Well played, Senator.
But surely that was just rehearsed good humor and practiced warmth, right? More convincing than usual, but less reproducible than orgone.
But then came the Democrat debate Sunday night, and, there was Hillary having herself a couple laughs and even dishing out one or two.
First, she laughed at Wolf Blitzer’s implied joke about her long-time involvement in the health care issue. Hillarycare was a legendary political disaster, and one she put behind her gracefully by acknowledging her previous failure before segueing into the fact that every other Democratic candidate is now pitching a similar plan.
MR. BLITZER: Senator Clinton, you've been involved in this issue, as all of us remember --
SEN. CLINTON: (Laughs.)
MR. BLITZER: -- for a long time. What do you think of Senator Obama's plan?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, I'm thrilled that universal health care is back on the national agenda. You know, as we remember back in '93 and '94, we tried to come forward with a plan. We weren't successful -- I have the scars to show for that experience. But I am convinced that now, when the Democrats all are coming forward saying this has to be a national goal, we then can try to get the political will.
She laughed at Sen. Gravel’s joke about her jet-setting around with Bill Clinton on his ambassador duties in a Gravel administration.
MR. GRAVEL: How would I use him? I like Clinton as a roving ambassador around the world. He'd be good. He could take his wife with him, who will still be in the Senate. (Laughter.)
SEN. CLINTON: (Laughs.)
A warmer, naturally funny candidate would have come up with an appropriately acidic zinger for Gravel but she gets points for not arching her eyebrow and huffing.
Finally, Hillary outsourced her funny effectively on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
And I just want to end by saying Barry Goldwater once said, “you don't have to be straight to shoot straight,” and I think he was right, and I believe we should open up our military.
She got one of the few applause lines of the night while avoiding responsibility for the Clinton-era policy, and reminding centrist voters afraid she’s a New York liberal statist that not only can she can quote Goldwater, but she agrees with him on at least one issue.
And, if that ain’t enough to crack you up, later in the debate she called Bill Clinton “my dear husband.” Now, that’s a knee-slapper.
I’ve always been skeptical of the Hillary juggernaut, but if the Ice Candidate can learn to make us laugh, we may all be laughing that we may not weep during a Clinton administration.