Carol Platt Liebau: The Danger of Whining

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Danger of Whining

Hillary's political team is adopting a risky strategy by complaining about her treatment by Tim Russert, as detailed in this piece from The Hill:

[Clinton senior strategist and pollster Mark Penn] also said criticisms from Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) would backfire and that he was already “detecting some backlash,” particularly among female voters.

Those female voters are saying, “Sen. Clinton needs our support now more than ever if we’re going to see this six-on-one to try to bring her down,” Penn told those on the campaign call.

He, Mantz and several supporters hinted repeatedly on the call that Clinton was unfairly targeted by Tim Russert, debate moderator and host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

As I noted before, there are dangers in Hillary's team again trying to play the victim card that worked so well in her Senate race against Rick Lazio.

For the first serious female candidate for the presidency, it's imperative that she seem twice as strong as any of the male candidates. It may not be fair, but it's so. Everyone knows that tough treatment is just part of the price one pays for being a prohibitive favorite to win the nomination -- and so any complaining about it makes Clinton look weak. If they're going to whine about Tim Russert, goes the thinking, what will they do about Kim Jong Il? And dealing with Al Qaeda is a lot more difficult than enduring a "six on one" in a political debate.

Could a man get away with stoking grievances about unfair press treatment? Maybe so. Can Hillary? No. The rules are different (fairly or not) and she's got to live with them.

Finally, the bellyaching coming from the senator's staff is laughable. The Clintons play tougher than just about anyone else in political life today. They run the risk of looking like the kind of schoolyard bullies who punch everyone else in the face, but then cry when anyone pushes back.


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