Recognizing that Hillary Rodham Clinton possessed all the charm of a canker sore, Clinton White House aides spent countless hours trying to figure out how to make the first lady look more human, and less like a socialist android.
Even in the early days of the Clinton White House, consultants and political advisers were scrambling to soften Hillary Clinton’s hard-edged image, looking for ways to “humanize her” for the press and public.
In the latter years, as the media turned, the advice was far more blunt. “Be real,” media consultant Mandy Grunwald told her in a 1999 memo. Grunwald told the first lady the public tends to see her only in “very stern situations,” and warned her not to let the press see her “uncomfortable or testy.”
The 1999 memo was a particularly frank example of advisers looking to style Clinton for the public. At the time, Grunwald was with the Grunwald Communications firm she founded and was trying to smooth relations between retiring New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Clinton — who would later win Moynihan’s seat. The memo referred to an upcoming “Moynihan event.” Grunwald urged Clinton to stay “conversational” and not raise her voice.
They even tried to push her on the idea of appearing on popular 1990’s sitcom Home Improvement. I can imagine the plot pitch. Tim Taylor bangs one of the interns on Tool Time, and Hillary comes round to tell Jill Taylor, “Hey, what difference does it make now?”
If they wanted to make Hillary look more… warm and human… they should have turned to an expert.
Also, Clinton advisor Sandy Burger (the guy who filched classified documents from the National Archive before they could embarass the Clintons) was apparently miffed that none of the characters on The West Wing was based on him. Maybe he should have been worried a little more about Osama bin Laden and a little less about TV shows.
Update: Below the fold, a video of Madame Clinton at her most charming. (Courtesy Commenter Charles)