UPDATED: Senator Hillary Clinton is still getting very high poll ratings–especially among minority voters which make up majorities or pluralities of the Democratic vote in many states, like, say South Carolina. In irony, she would be unbeatable if the Democratic primaries were held today in the Southern states; but, whether she would win any Southern red state in a general election is questionable. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the only Democrat who can energize the Republican base–to vote against her.
If her main concern is the general election contest, that is winning the middle and swing voters, then she (and her lead live-in political strategist) may be considering a “Sister Souljah” moment, with the symbolic target this time being anti-war left bloggers. An SS moment refers to the time in 1992 when Bill Clinton criticized the black, female rap artist for sounding like “David Duke” for a comment she made about “why not have a week and kill white people?” (Which she said was taken out of context). The political implication was that Clinton came off as a moderate Democrat not beholden to an “extremist” of the left and thus was more acceptable to socio-cultural moderates and conservatives.
Senator Clinton is producing many variations of such counter-typing  of herself, including co-introducing in the Senate a bill to make flag-burning illegal. Liberal blogger Kos described the move as follows: “She’s continuing to brush up on her ‘moderate’ cred for her presidential run.”
But in politics and war, people judge you by your friends and your enemies. The idea behind the SS moment strategy was to pick an enemy who can get you more friends. John Cole of Balloonjuice argues “most politicians would pay to have this kind of opposition.”
It might be tempting–if the Clinton team is confident their “base” numbers are solid–to “dis” a leftblog, preferably one that has made some heated statement about the Iraq war that is beyond the pale of mainstream American public opinion.
The danger is that, in mass communication terms, this is not 1992. Sister Souljah could only complain to the big media and her friends (by phone). Or write a song. Blogs have their own instant platforms, outreach and weaponry.
 Counter-typing is when a politician offers up imagery, symbolism, and words that counter an established negative prejudice that an audience might have. So, a female Democratic candidate would send campaign messages that suggest her being “strong on defense” and “tough on crime.” A male Republican candidate might try to appear “compassionate” and caring.” (Sound familar?)
See: D. D. Perlmutter & G. Golan. “Counter-Imaging: Myth-Making and Americanization in Israeli Labor Party Campaign Ads, 2003.” Visual Communication, 4(3): 304-332. (2005).
Originally posted January 3, 2006 at PolicyByBlog