Risk Aversion


Well, that was news-free.

I heard variations of that comment three times coming out of Hillary’s event here today, as reporters struggled to frame their ledes. But for Hillary, that’s mission accomplished.

In the last days before the Iowa caucuses, the goal for the candidates is to gain as much attention as possible while generating as little news as possible. Because by now, after a year of repeating variations on the same message, anything that qualifies as news is by definition not that message, and therefore bad.

Hillary adhered to her themes like tack. Listeners learned she works hard: She rolled out her line about not “demanding” change, not “hoping for” it, but “working really really hard” for it. She is a diplomat: Three times she mentioned cooperating with Republicans on legislation. And she’s willing to take on powerful interests: She described requiring pharmaceutical companies to test their products, saying that “then the drug companies weren’t  happy with me—which is pretty much a constant experience.” I couldn’t help thinking she was trying to out-Edwards Edwards.

She did stray from script by taking questions at the end – something she hasn’t been doing lately – but the queries she got weren’t particularly risky. At an Edwards event later in Ames, Iowa First Lady Mary Culver got in what sounded like a little dig at Clinton: “We’ll now open it up to questions, because as you know John Edwards


takes questions.”