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December 5, 2007

It Really WAS Just A Joke

-- by Dave Johnson

The other day I asked if the Hillary statement about Obama wanting to be President since Kindergarten was a joke.

I suspect / hope that the Clinton campaign is making fun of the attacks on her from the right. Remember that book that "accused" her of having wanted to be President for a long time?
Well, it turns out that it really was a joke. Election Central | Talking Points Memo | Hillary Pollster: "Kindergarten Attack" On Obama Was Just A Gag!

And I do understand that jokes can fall flat. I was speaking to a group of progressives Monday evening, and used a line about the colonists fighting the British army, saying, "They issued strongly-worded statements." The joke fell absolutely flat - no one understood this common blogger criticism of the Senate's refusal to fight back against Bush...

Later - a bit more on this. I can understand how this can happen. The people in a campaign LIVE the campaign. So they are very aware of things the rest of us probably have never heard about. The book, Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton, by two New York Times reporters, was supposed to shake up the campaign.

This NY Times review shows how "the Village" - the collection of NY and DC insiders, pundits, etc. - saw it:

The book is almost uniformly negative and overly focused on what they consider the Clintons’ scandalous past and the darker aspects of Mrs. Clinton’s personality. Her ambition, for example, is seen as an unattractive compulsion that, at times, has led her into untoward behavior. They assert that the Clintons had a longstanding deal to win the presidency, first for Bill and then for Hillary, a secret pact of ambition.
A SECRET PACT! AMBITION! OH DEAR!

So inside the campaign this is a big deal. And you can see how making a joke about Obama writing a kindergarten essay "Why I want to be President" is funny. EVERY kindergartener writes something like this. And, seeing it now, it IS funny.

My own talk Monday night, where I used the "strongly-worded statement" joke is another example of this. I often say that those of us in the blogging world - writers and readers - are what I call "hyper-informed." But this can cause us to forget that almost everyone else is poorly informed. We should not assume that others understand what WE understand. For example, almost no one knows that there has been massive corruption and profiteering in Iraq. You and I know about that $9 billion in cash that just disappeared - but no one else does, so it doesn't figure into their thinking. We take it for granted and can't understand how others could think the way they do. They think we're crazy and partisan and making things up just for telling them what is going on in the country.

And I always conclude that bloggers need an outreach program so that what we offer extends beyond the universe of blog-readers. That universe has not been expanding lately.

Posted by Dave Johnson at December 5, 2007 7:24 AM

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Comments

I think you missed the subtext of the article you cited. Clinton's pollster/spinner appears on tv after the campaign had been "badly mocked" by the press for an entire day.

"Oh, that is so silly," Penn said, claiming to be amazed that anyone actually took it seriously as a real attack...

Clinton apparently was rooting around in Obama's kindergarten records - which is a bit far to go for a joke.

Posted by: joe@2parse.com [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 5, 2007 10:16 AM

You actually think anyone can even FIND kindergarten records from Indonesia?

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 5, 2007 12:01 PM

This reminds me of when Krusty the Clown ran for congress:

"What? I was JOKING! When you look at me that way, it means I'm joking"

I think that fits.

Posted by: Jay Muntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 5, 2007 9:40 PM

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