Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Deny, deny, deny

The 1960s comedy "A Guide for the Married Man" featured the likes of Lucille Ball, Jack Benny and Phil Silvers in a series of sex-farce skits that were a bit naughty for the time (and for the family entertainment performers), but pretty tame by today's standards.

In one scene, a wife returns home to find her husband (played by Joey Bishop) in bed with another woman. As she shrieks at hubby in anger, the Bishop character and his lady friend methodically get out of bed, dress, make the bed and leave the room. All the while, Bishop says to his horrified wife, in effect, "What girl? ... What are you talking about?" At the end of the skit, the girlfriend is gone, Bishop is reading a newspaper in his favorite easy chair and the befuddled wife (played by Ann Morgan Guilbert, the next-door neighbor from the "Dick Van Dyke Show") has been convinced she didn't see what she really saw.

The moral of the tale: Deny, deny, deny.

That's what came to mind when I read Hillary Clinton's offensive 24 hours after her verbal transgression at a South Dakota newspaper editorial board meeting. You'll recall Clinton inelegantly suggested one of the reasons she's still campaiging, despite the virtual numerical impossibility of her achieving the Democratic nomination, is that other races weren't determined until June, like in 1968, when Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Most commentators and columnists jumped all over Clinton for suggesting the unthinkable could also happen to her Democratic opponent, Barack Obama. Most also gave Clinton the benefit of the doubt, saying her remarks, while distasteful, probably were careless, not purposely venomous.

An hour or so after her comments spread across the wires, the Internet and cable, Clinton held an impromptu press conference to apologize and confirm she didn't mean it the way it might have sounded. That, too, was duly noted by commentators, who saw the hurt in Clinton's face.

End of story?

Nope. The next day, Clinton said her remarks had been taken out of context. She blamed the Obama camp and the media for gleefully and inaccurately pouncing on her comments.

In other words, deny, deny, deny.

But wait. Clinton's comments at the newspaper editorial board meeting were videotaped and replayed in their entirety. We saw and heard the context for ourselves. The remarks were accurately reported.

No matter. For Clinton, it was deny, deny, deny.

It works in the movies.
comments powered by Disqus

<< Home