Friday, February 22, 2008

Getting Tough

Following some of Hillary Clinton's recent primary losses, there were reports (and observations) that she would be "taking off the gloves" to drive home her message that she is better qualified than Barack Obama to be President.

This is more likely to be annoying than effective.

In this and other recent events I am reminded of something "Miss Manners" (Judith Martin) wrote many years ago about the etiquette of participating in public political discourse:
If people do not agree with you, it is not necessarily because they do not understand your position. The reason that the same few people use most of the time at any given meeting is that they entertain this erroneous assumption. Stating your position louder after each statement of opposition occasionally wears down a few of the weaker souls, who drift off down the block, but it does not win the hearts and votes of the majority.
Judith Martin, Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior (Warner Books 1982), page 252.

The fact that people are not voting for Hillary Clinton does not mean that they have not heard her, or do not understand her position, but that they do not agree with her. For her to restate her position more loudly, more emphatically, and perhaps more shrilly, is not going to win the hearts and votes of the majority.

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