Day By Day

Monday, January 21, 2008

Competitive Victimization

The big news today is Obama's criticism of Bill Clinton. All over the airways pundits are twittering away about the clash of the Democrat icons, wondering if it is good for Obama, whether Hill can control Bill, etc.

Well, here's what it is all about.

Ever since Obama began to close in on her Hillary has been using Bill as a hit man. This has been a great advantage to her. She can get all the dirty work done while remaining above it all. At first Obama was stymied. When he tried to hit back at the Clinton lies he came off as a man attacking a woman and Hillary morphed into victim mode. Sympathies of feminists in newsrooms across the country swung into line behind their gal Hill and Obama took a double hit in the coverage. But then he found a way out of the trap.

He started to specifically attack Bill and ignore Hill. This changed the victimization calculus. The conflict was no longer along the man/woman axis; now it was racial, a black man standing up to a white bully [on the eve of MLK day too]. Suddenly the coverage changed. The stories were all about out of control Bill and sympathies shifted back to Obama. And there was a second advantage in this. Focusing on Bill began to make Hill look weak.

This is by no means the end of the story. The Clintons will be back on attack soon -- it's the only place they really feel comfortable. What form the attack will take we don't know, but for now Barak has outmaneuvered them.