I know I’m supposed to be following the Republicans, but there were two events so close together in Ames this morning, one with Hillary Clinton and the other with John Edwards, I couldn’t help myself.

First, quickly, on Clinton, with a post to follow on Edwards: She was in pretty good form, but I always feel like I can hear the lyrics but never the music. She is so detailed, so wonky, so focused, so fact-based. She covers a virtual policy laundry list of items, from Iran and Iraq, to home health care to mental health coverage to opposition to social security privatization. She’s getting very good at hanging these policies on a human story hook, like when she talks about the costs of home health care.

Surely there is a need for that level of seriousness and rigor in the country right now; and it should be noted that she was actually quite funny during a couple moments, particularly when there were some audio-technical snafus. But her core message is basically the same: I am a worker--I’ll grind out a four-yard gain every time. Mentioning neither Edwards nor Barack Obama by name, she summed up her contrast with her two main competitors thusly: “Everybody running for president is talking about change. Some people think you get change by demanding it, some think you get change by hoping for it. I think you get change by working for it.”

This is her closing message distilled to the essence: “You know me, I’m tough, and I work more than I talk.” For all the discussion about how she draws support from women simply by virtue of being a woman, it’s really this message that is perhaps the most gendered thing about her approach.

--Tom Schaller

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