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Satire: Hillary's New Winning Strategy

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"It's pretty pathetic." - Hillary Clinton, 3/3/08, describing her appearance on the Daily Show the day before the most important primary of her life.

"It's pretty pathetic."

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What an opening for a pundit to slam Senator Clinton. Except that they'd be slamming a great political maneuver.

Hillary has spent a year pushing her experience; the last three months ripping into the hollowness of Barack Obama's speeches. She even sent out a surrogate to make sure everyone knew that Barack's middle name rhymed Saddam's last name.  And the only thing that fortified were her unfavorable ratings. In fact, most every time she tried the tried (tired?) and true it not only blew up in her face, but it also seemed to give Obama great grist for a simple return volley that, in comparison, made her sound all the more shrill.

With Obama momentum picking up steam and Hillary's prospects doing a header, it seemed that no matter what the New York senator tossed out there fell flat.

And then...

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Hel-loo Satire, with a capital S...for Self-deprecation.

With a bit of help from the heavily-viewed Saturday Night Live spoofing the Obama-Media tryst and a week-after followup appearance on SNL by the actual Hillary mocking herself, Clinton's actual chances of winning in Texas and Ohio, once again became an actuality.

Add that to the fact she showed up primary eve on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and you know that her campaign has finally taken political satire seriously.

And obviously, she doesn't even have to be good at it.

Satire as a political tool, even as a pretty nifty weapon, has long shown its value. It's just that politicos never seem to let the hilarious evidence sway them from their disastrous strategy of same-same. Wikipedia, the world's most infallible authority, says that "political satire is a method of advancing political arguments where such arguments are expressly forbidden." I'm guessing the "where" they speak of is a losing political campaign.

It doesn't always work, especially when you have your opponent exercising the same. Hillary mocked Obama's speech making. Obama went one better and mocked Hillary mocking him. Or "3AM in the morning?  Here's your 3AM in the morning!" Still nothing makes a point better than one that tears apart an opponent's argument with a clever pin prick - heh-heh. I wrote prick - to the funny bone.

Will Hillary's going to the satire gambit lead to an ultimate victory? Not necessarily. Time will tell. But it's already given a good last minute kick to her polls, enough to energize a campaign that only a week ago, pundits had said looked pretty pathetic. That is, until Hillary did the last thing you'd expect...agree.

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Award-winning television writer and author of Great Failures of the Extremely Successful", (, Steve Young's  "All The News That's Fit To Spoof" appears in L.A. Daily News opeds every Sunday(


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