NOONAN: I THINK THE COYOTE WILL CONTINUE TO DOMINATE THE ROADRUNNER
In the debate that took place just before the recent French election, Nicolas Sarkozy told Segolene Royal to "Calm down!" and said she had a tendency to "fly off the handle very easily"; Royal, of course, subsequently lost the election.
There's a lesson to be learned from that, according to Peggy Noonan:
Ms. Royal, when the unexpected happened--"Calm down!"--showed she wasn't so good at improvising. She didn't react with any tactical grace. This reminded me of Mrs. Clinton, who also seems unsure and unsteady when pushed off script or put at the mercy of happenstance. She can't rely on her instincts, because deep down she knows her instincts are no match for her will. She's not light on her feet. Her foes would do well to keep this in mind.
Yeah, right -- because Hillary Clinton, when faced with an unexpected attack by a similarly aggressive man in a debate, really suffers in the eyes of voters:
You perhaps witnessed the moment and the act that may very well cost Rick Lazio the race for Daniel Patrick Moynihan's seat in the United States Senate.
It came at the very end of his first televised debate with Hillary Clinton the evening of September 13 . Lazio manfully strode across the stage to within a few feet of Hillary’s lectern. He thrust a piece of paper at her and demanded that she sign it. He pointed his finger at her as if he were a prosecutor and she the defendant in the dock.
...If you didn’t catch Lazio’s finger on tv you probably saw it in news reports that night or the next day as an AP photo in the New York Times and many other newspapers and magazines. The image appeared everywhere, and it immediately became iconic. Whenever people talked about that debate they talked about the moment Lazio crossed the stage with the piece of paper and pointed at Hillary.
Particularly women. Women talked about that moment a lot. Women who already favored Hillary talked about it and said, "See!" My daughter Rachel, a Buffalo attorney, was one. She called us immediately after the debate and said, "Did you see what he did? He grins and then he attacks her?" A few days later she sent me an email about it: "I just kept thinking that he was going to get violent or make the situation even more unbearable than it was. It made me really uncomfortable to watch and you could just see the discomfort in her face. It was very intimidating not just for Hillary, but for me as a viewer."...
Yeah, Hillary really took a drubbing at the polls for that:
Stick a fork in Rick? According to a new statewide poll published today, New York Rep. Rick Lazio's campaign for the Senate against first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is in serious trouble with less than five weeks to go before Election Day.
The poll of likely voters, conducted by Newsday and New York television station WB-11, shows Clinton opening up a healthy 10-point lead, 52-42, in what for months had been a race statistically knotted....
Fact is, Lazio and Clinton were tied in the polls leading up to the debate. And their meeting seems to have dramatically changed the dynamics of the race.
... According to the poll, New Yorkers think he's already been overly aggressive, with 37 percent suggesting his debate performance was "too negative," compared to just 17 percent who felt the same way about Clinton's debate appearance. By being so aggressive Lazio has driven up his own unfavorable rating to 38 percent, nearly identical to Clinton's 37 percent....
Just out of curiosity, what did Peggy Noonan think the impact of that encounter would be?
Conservative Wall Street Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan, who writes a "Hillary & Company" column weekly, was so sure Lazio won the first senatorial debate with Clinton on Sept. 13 that she assured readers, "It will continue to be close." Adding, "I will be surprised if Mr. Lazio doesn't get a boost in the polls from Wednesday's performance. And if he uses that boost to make it a stronger, deeper campaign it could mean everything."
Hillary, of course, went on to win that election, 55%-43%.
Actually, Peggy was right then, and she's right now.
It's objective reality that's wrong.