In her first two days on Twitter, Hillary Clinton did not bother to follow the man she wants to follow.
No @BarackObama for @HillaryClinton as of Tuesday night.
Hillary debuted firmly entrenched in Clintonworld, following Bill, Chelsea, the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton School.
She unveiled a self-deprecating Twitter bio that was no doubt written by an aide and focus-grouped to death: “Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD ...”
It included six changes the calculatedly, obsessively whimsical Hillary made after it was posted. According to BuzzFeed, she flipped “mom” and “wife,” moved “women & kids advocate,” “U.S. Senator” and “SecState” higher, and switched “Pantsuit fashionista” to “pantsuit aficionado.” For a picture, she chose the celebrated “don’t mess with me” image from her secretary of state days: checking her BlackBerry wearing big sunglasses on a C-17 flight from Malta to Tripoli. The photo, shot by Diana Walker for Time, was used in a trendy Tumblr meme. The candidate-in-waiting’s debut even disarmed conservative blogger Erick Erickson, who tweeted: “I have to commend @HillaryClinton for her very awesome Twitter bio. Welcome to Twitter.”
As she prepares for 2016, is Hillary swapping images with Barry? In 2008, Hillary was the square one, mired in old-fashioned machine politics and an imperious mien, while lithe, smooth Barack Obama sprinted ahead with his sophisticated high-tech campaign and references to Jay-Z. Now Hillary’s looking cool on Twitter, in her shades, with her first tweet heard round the world garnering 366,000 followers in 24 hours, a faster start than her husband and Pope Francis.
Meanwhile, Obama is the square with the didactic mien mired in old-fashioned political scandals, fending off Nixon comparisons and a suspicious press corps aghast at the administration’s willingness to criminalize journalism. Hillary’s popularity numbers have drooped a bit. And she’s had “some dings in the armor” from scandals during her time running the State Department that may cling to her, as the NBC News White House reporter Chuck Todd told Andrea Mitchell.
As with Benghazi, Hillary is distancing herself from the latest kerfuffle roiling her former workplace. CBS News’ John Miller secured a State Department draft memo that he said suggested that several internal investigations were “manipulated, influenced, or simply called off” by department big shots. The allegations in the memo included a report of a State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in sexual assaults” on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards, another about members of Hillary’s former diplomatic security detail having an “endemic” issue with hiring “prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries,” and a third involving an “underground drug ring” operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and providing drugs to State Department security contractors.
Miller said “the most striking instance” in which State Department agents told the inspector general that they were ordered to stop investigating was the case of a U.S. ambassador who was prone to eluding his protective detail to cavort with prostitutes in a public park. Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman, denied that senior officials at the State Department ignored serious violations of the law, calling it “preposterous.”
Unlike Obama, who seems whipsawed by the cascade of federal scandals, Hillary “eats scandals for breakfast,” as Bill Maher put it. The president has a Twitter account but rarely personally tweets or checks the site like other pols, such as John McCain, Cory Booker, Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn and Claire McCaskill. It remains to be seen if Hillary will farm out the job to staff, as she did with her homogenized memoir that underscored her motto “It takes a village.”
She will probably follow the lead of her daughter, who posts anodyne tweets like “Arrived in Cambodia to visit @ClintonHealth programs. Looking fwd to seeing our work and partners!”
Bill, goaded onto Twitter in April by Stephen Colbert, has shown a bit more personality. He greeted Hillary’s first tweet with one of his own, asking “Does @Twitter have a family share plan?”
And then, of course, there’s “Rodham,” the planned Hollywood movie about young Hillary delving into an earlier scandal, working on the House committee looking into the possible impeachment of Richard Nixon. The film, written by a tyro South Korean screenwriter, will feature a hot, young actress donning a “hideous pair of Coke-bottle glasses,” as the screenplay describes them, and having a torrid, tortured relationship with an affable Arkansas law professor.
A draft of the screenplay obtained by The Daily Beast sounded like a YouTube parody, with the Hillary character fretting that Bill is just using her for her D.C. apartment. Asked how things are going, Hillary replies, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘sex’ means.”
Will Hillary tweet a sly review?
Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times.