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January 30, 2007

Early Scenes From The Listening Tour


It’s billed as a listening tour (with Hillary doing the listening) patterned after her New York Senate run.  It’s labeled as “a conversation.”

Watching Monday’s full NYT  (paired with this article and titled Tale of Two Clinton Campaigns), Iowa’s response to Hillary’s preseason press seemed essentially positive — at least enough so not to contradict the “just family” flavor the campaign adds to everything.

If you look past Hillary’s Oprah-style presentation, the interviews with supporters, and the applause scenes, however, you get a more complex picture.  Studying the faces in the audience, what you have are Iowans looking and listening hard, with not a small degree of skepticism.

(image still: new york times multimedia. Iowa.  January 29, 2008.

  • Mad_nVT

    Well, at least the Iowans are listening. It may be a hard sell getting these folks won over.
    Where are the males?

  • Bill

    The males are busy working two jobs most likely.

  • PTate in FR

    As someone who has done a fair amount of public speaking, I look at that crowd, and my blood runs cold. That crowd is not hostile, but neither are they playing Hillary’s game. I see frowns, covered mouths, heads tipped away from the speaker, narrowed eyes….If I were Hillary, I’d be trying to crack some jokes, get them talking, anything to get them on my side.
    The news media are trying to snowball us into accepting Hillary, and these good Iowans may stop the avalanche.

  • Megan

    They aren’t enraptured, but they are fully engaged. They are giving her their full attention. White women are the only people who show up for Sen. Clinton?

  • demit

    The photo makes me smile, as I too think Hillary Clinton has some splaining to do. Such as what exactly is she for, besides acting as though she has some natural right to power. I’m looking at that woman in the dark jacket, and if that isn’t a face right out of a Dorothea Lange photo of tough hardscrabble women I don’t know what is. Maybe I’m wrong, and she’s actually thinking what a pretty shade of pink Hillary’s suit is, but I don’t think so.

  • readytoblowagasket

    How utterly REFRESHING to see skepticism, frowns, and dead-serious looks on the female faces in this Iowa audience. The reason it’s refreshing is because for the last 6 years, the media has shoved images of rapturous female Bush supporters down our throats until I want to puke. Now I can actually SEE the pissed-off people in the rest of the country who, like me, are completely fed up. The skepticism does not faze Hillary, and an image like this is probably going to help her, like it has in the past. The “listening tour” is Hillary’s and Hillary’s alone; while all the candidates should (and do) embark on one, no other candidate can claim it as his. Genius.
    Hillary faced the same skepticism in New York State in 1999 when she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2000 (*much* was made of her “carpetbagger” status, failure to reform healthcare, and potentially toxic connection to her husband’s policies). While most people outside of New York assume it’s a wildly liberal state because of NYC, that is far from an accurate assessment. Even if you don’t like Hillary (and *especially* if you don’t), I would recommend doing a little background reading on her successful Senate campaign. Because, the fact is, she won. Twice.
    PTate suggests, “the news media are trying to snowball us into accepting Hillary.” I would argue that the news media has already tested Hillary and found her much stronger than they were ever willing to give her credit for. As I’ve suggested before, you don’t have to *like* Hillary, but you do have to take her ambition–and her achievements–seriously.

  • Gasho

    They don’t look thrilled, but it sure does show real people. Americans are jaded at this point. I applaud her for trying this approach. I don’t know if it will work, but it’s better than Bush’s pre-vetted crowd of loyalists.

  • lowly grunt

    Reading others comments can certainly color one’s first impresssions of a picture.
    I also thought, “Yeesh, tough crowd” (Rodney Dangerfield) when I looked at those faces. Especially the woman in the checkered scarf. I saw her first and flinched. I’ve spoken (about God-stuff, no less) in front of faces like that and I can guarentee you, such expressions really make you assess what you believe to be true.
    Yet, Hilary goes to these faces in order to “talk”. I put that in quotes because in the pic, she is doing the talking. I would love to know if, in fact, she stopped talking and gave the skeptics a chance to ask her stuff. I hope so.
    If she did, then her electibility goes up some in my opinion. Anyone willing to walk into a room that looks like that and is still willing to ask them to vote for her must have some mighty big cojones….

  • MonsieurGonzo

    Re: I’d be trying to crack some jokes
    Hillary Clinton says she was trying to be funny. Or maybe she really was thinking about evil men, like Osama bin Laden.
    It all started with a question at Sunday’s town hall meeting at a fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa.
    A man in the crowd asked about Clinton’s experience in dealing with “bad places” in the world like Iran and North Korea. He called the leaders of those countries
    “evil, greedy, rotten, power-hungry leaders” who usually happen to be men.
    Since the man didn’t have a microphone and it was difficult to hear in the packed hall, Clinton repeated his question on her mike.
    Question was: What in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?” Clinton said.
    And then she paused, seemingly for comedic effect. The crowd howled with laughter

    …it was, imho ~ her most effective moment; she dropped her guard, laughed (at herself) along with her audience, establishing instant rapport.
    She had become “real” ie., vulnerable, like the rest of us, thus.
    The nation longs for wit, in my opinion ~ Dubya’s reign / the Fundamentalists’ vision has been so godawful dark : endless war and damnation of evil-doers; dreary dinner parties in D.C.; pervasive fear ~ of science, of art, of birth, of the beauty of our own human bodies.
    nothing is explored, few things created; our only challenge, it seems, is consumption. and our War (in the words of Lewis Mumford) is not just destruction, but negative production
    …we long for joy again, for… purpose ~ to produce something non-disposable as Americans.
    is this (to consume) all there is? the daily commute to work to consume? the daily patrol outside our GreenZone, too roll the dice yet again to see who gets it this time? pour quoi ??
    We long for a leader who really doesn’t “read the polls,” because, Christ, we don’t know where the hell we’re going ~ we’re consumption hamsters running around and around on a wheel in a poll-driven cage. Get us off this f__ing wheel, Hillary; this dead heat on a Merry-Go-Round : stop following us (we’re not going anywhere) and LEAD US: we want to follow You!

  • donna

    Well, I’m skeptical of Hillary, too. Bill led us to economic success, but didn’t really change the direction of the country. What is Hill offering us? Anything new? Not really.
    We need to change direction, or we may end up where we’re heading. I think most people know that right now.

  • TAJ in IA

    I’d like to think that we midwesterners are willing to listen to what people have to say, whether we believe what they are telling us or not. We still like to hear where they’re coming from. I suppose Des Moines is where you’d have to start campaigning but she isn’t going to win Iowa unless she visits some of the red rural areas and changes some minds out there. I don’t know if I’ll be in IA when the caucus finally arrives but I’m planning on voting for Obama.

  • Neal

    If I were a conservative media mogul, I would play up the pre-nomination Hillary campaign as much as possble. I,as a mogul, would be very happy to have Hillary nominated and then happy to re-ignite the wacko firestorm that the Clintons seem to have always attracted. The best gift the Repubs can get in 2008 is to have Hillary run. This picture shows the skepticism of “middle America” toward Hillary. Dems ignore this skepticism at their own peril. The issues are far to important for such an apparently damaged messenger.

  • tina

    Neal’s got it right.
    The Dems have to be nuts to run Bill Clinton’s wife.
    Sad but true.
    It looks like the crowd has really turned Hillary off in this picture.

  • truthseeker

    These people do not like Hillary and do not trust her. She may eventually win them over, but it will be a pyrrhic victory. As soon as the switfboaters make a couple of stabs at her, this distrust will return and that will be that.

  • charlie tuna

    give me a break – THEY ARE FROM IOWA!!!!
    Stupid morons always look like that – kind of like cows chewing their cuds – it is just a state full of idiots.

  • mugatea

    tuna, I’m reading this during my breakfast, after all the serious comments yours made my oatmeal almost go out my nose. Growing up in the midwest I understand your observation.
    My pov – she was talking about the last six years. That’s the only thing that could make a group of people frown that much. They were agreeing with her and showing her that.
    Kind of like what tuna said, they were concentrating.
    The same day, perhaps the next, she was in Texas. She spoke in front of some military folk. The man, soldier, over her right shoulder had a face that obviously had been exposed to an explosive device. Half his nose was missing and there were as many scars as skin. Quite a change from the Bush pom-pom rallies. I’m not a Hill fan but I appreciate her attempts to bring US out of this Disney glaze.

  • PTate in FR

    charlie tuna: “Stupid morons always look like that – kind of like cows chewing their cuds – it is just a state full of idiots.”
    Mugatea, I can’t agree. If this was meant to be funny, it failed. I find it an offensive and uncalled for slur.

  • itwasntme

    Tune: I’m hereby sticking up for Iowans.

  • mugatea

    Irate PTate,
    As a boy my parents packed up our car every summer and drove the family from Chicago to Yellowstone. One morning while going thu Iowa a pick up with three men, not boys, pulled up next to us at a two lane stop light. It was a hot day, no ac in our car, windows down in town. The man riding shotgun kindly asked, “are you folks from Illinois?” My father responded “yes” and with that the man started saying things about us that were a hell of a lot worse than what tuna said. They then tossed a fire cracker into our car and sped off thu the red light. Everyone in our car was okay physically but none of us will ever go back to Iowa again. Boy-howdy I really miss that Corn Palace.
    I was ten then, forgive me if I relish the Iowans I know getting a little karma back at them.
    I dislike pick up trucks and fireworks too.
    Still laughing. But not as much, thanks P.
    European coffee is a lot stronger.

  • Margaret

    Is somebody holding a white dog in the background?

  • weisseharre


  • Johanna

    I watched the second “chat” on the website. The opening welcome reminded me of the way Mr. Rogers, the children’s show host, used to talk. “We have a LOT to talk about today…” (if she had added, boys and girls, it would have sounded perfectly in place). The emphasized words, widened eyes, big smile, head bobbing — all implying the electorate is a child. I think it is interesting that she presents herself seated. This is quite new for a candidate, but its visual effect is not to make her the equal of the seated audience. Quite the contrary. After all, when you have an audience with the boss, with royalty, with the pope, they are all seated! The candidate who stands before voters, showing himself head to toe, visually submits himself to their judgment, which is how it should be.

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