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Media, ethics, and journalism. What works. What doesn't.

Jeffrey Dvorkin

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Journalism Is Overlooking Hillary's Biggest Threat

Much is written these days about the Hillary Clinton campaign, the tensions within the Democratic Party and the increasing acrimony between Senators Clinton and Obama over who is best qualified to lead.

Journalists are paying attention as well to the role played by former President Bill Clinton who consistently acts as his wife's loyal helpmate and guardian of her campaign. The commentariat mentions how President Clinton's ego and his powerful defensiveness are constantly on display.
Journalists accept this at face value, even with a measure of nostalgia for the good old days of the Clinton White House and, after all, Bill always makes for good copy.

But in my opinion, journalists are missing the real story: Hillary Clinton's biggest threat to her campaign is her husband who doesn't want his wife to win.

Bill is sabotaging Hillary daily, while ostensibly professing his support. By placing himself in the role of attack dog, questions are raised (by David Brooks on NPR, among others), about whose administration would it be - Hillary's or Bill's-- if she is elected. Brooks sagely anticipates that a Clinton administration would be filled with warring parties - some loyal to her, others to him. It's a prospect that many voters dread, so say the polls.

It's a bit of armchair analysis, but a psychotherapist I know well, tells me that this is an example of projective identification - the patient (Bill) evacuates his anxieties (no longer being President) on the therapist (Hillary) in order to regain his dominance and to assure his traditional role and reputation.

Seems obvious to me.

Where should I send the invoice?


  1. Invoice? To the Obama campaign.

    (Big laughs, too, from using "Brooks" and "sagely" in the same sentence, especially in succession.)

  2. Dear rockin'-

    As reported tonight, none of the campaigns have enough money to keep going to the extent they have been, up till now. Maybe they'll have something for the therapists once it's all over...Or perhaps we'll be one's looking for solace.

    Thanks for writing and of course, for reading.

  3. Guess you're workin' pro bono, then, JD.

  4. Yeh, right. I can't believe Romenesko linked to this facile opinion that's worth about as much as the free advice its "psychotherapist" offered.

  5. Well, Marilyn, and how do you feel about that?

    (Sorry...couldn't resist...).

    But seriously, there is some useful work to be done, not in just idle speculation, but in trying to determine motivations and consequences of our leaders. A fascinating study of Woodrow Wilson (after his death) was done By Freud. It added much to our understanding of why American policy was so impotent in the years after 1918. Freud's study was flawed in many ways, but the process was valuable.

  6. I see no benefit in "psychological profile" done in one paragraph by an unnamed mental health worker with no other supporting evidence. This is a tease, plain and simple, meant to goad, not illuminate.

  7. I think the correct term is bloviating.

    (At least that's the polite one.)