Laugh It Off

Team Edwards is already on message today, expanding on last night’s insta-spin that seized on Hillary’s response to a question about NAFTA—a laugh, followed by a dismissive quip—as an indication of her soulless disregard for working people. The campaign just held a conference call in which Michigan Rep. David Bonior and others repeated that the trade agreement is “no laughing matter.” “I saw families devastated in my state of Michigan,” Bonior said. “Families and communities ripped apart as a result of the worst trade deals. … John Edwards understands this instinctively.” Roger Touse of the transport workers union described her laugh as “like a flashback” to working-class nightmare that was Rubinomics.

It’s no mistake the campaign decided to make this moment the night’s sticking point. For one thing, there weren’t really any others: Hillary was, sigh, back in action . It also fits Edwards’ message of working-class solidarity. (He’s walking the Hollywood picket lines today.) Plus, it maintains the Edwards narrative of Hillary Clinton as heartless, gutless, and in the sack with corporate interests.

But most importantly, it resurrects her laugh. The Hillary “cackle” managed to span a half-dozen news cycles a few weeks back. Anything her opponents can do to remind people of it—and how much they hate it—is a point for Edwards. Cue the YouTube mashup of Hillary chuckling over NAFTA spliced with Dr. Evil’s muah-ha-has. Going after her laugh is a low blow, but subtle enough that it’s lowness probably won’t make Edwards look bad. Of course, this is the candidate who bristled at the media’s obsession with his hair. Now those nitpicky, superficial chatterboxes just might help him.