Cackles & Evasions

Is Hillary Clinton's campaign still communicating with Billy Shaheen? And does Hillary still consider Obama's youthful drug use a relevant campaign issue? Clinton wouldn't say this morning. Hillary sandwiched her evasions between two moments of mirth and hilarity on today's Morning Joe.

View video here.

Earlier in the morning, Hillary began her Today interview with David Gregory with a smile. Perhaps it was an intervening cup or two of strong coffee, but by the time she chatted with the Morning Joe crowd a bit later, Clinton was downright manic. Hillary was in full cackle as she attempted to laugh off her slippage in the polls. She ended the interview with some guffaws about the trials of waking up early on the campaign trail.

But in between, when it was Mika Brzezinski's turn to ask about continued communication between her campaign and Billy Shaheen, and the relevance of his allegations to the campaign, Hillary turned suddenly grim-faced [see image below] and evasive.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Senator Clinton, it's Mika Brzezinski here. I want to ask you about some of the things that have happened with your campaign over the past week, specifically the comments made by Billy Shaheen about Barack Obama. Does Billy Shaheen have any contact with your campaign any more: emails, meetings, anything, or is he out? And is there any, in any way, shape or form, any relation to this campaign, any reason to even talk about it, Obama's past drug use. Is it relative to this campaign at all?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well Mika, you know, that was totally a surprise, it was unauthorized, I certainly don't condone it and we asked him to step down. He's not part of our campaign. And I'm going to keep talking about what a president can do, and that's about the future, that's about what I will do to bring health care and a new energy plan. That's the kind of campaign that I'm running, and every time somebody in my campaign says something that we don't believe is right or appropriate, you know, we take care of it, we move quickly. And we will keep doing that, because I want to keep focused on what people are telling me they want a president to do.

And it's really touching how hopeful people are that we can begin to get back to having our country, you know, be in the solutions business, and really helping people deal with all these problems in their lives.

Touching, yeah.

As always in dealing with a Clinton, it's important to parse words carefully. While Hillary said Shaheen's statement wasn't authorized and that the campaign had asked him to step down, let's look at what Hillary didn't say.

Mika had asked if Shaheen still has "any contact with your campaign any more: emails, meetings, anything." Did you hear Hillary say Shaheen doesn't? Neither did I.

And what of Mika's question as to whether Obama's past drug use is relevant to the campaign?

The cricket chirping's killing my ears . . .

Aside: To those who might say I'm being unfair, criticizing Hillary for her mirthlessness yesterday and now for her madcap laughter today, I say let's hear it for authenticity . . . and the happy medium.

Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential NBC MSNBC Today Morning Joe Video Bill Shaheen Mika Brzezinski