Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Signaling and Tempting

Hillary's speech tonight was notable in several respects--calm, psychologically adept, delivered to shape viewer perceptions of Clinton as a presumptive winner, and especially interesting in one respect: providing a signal to, and about, Obama.

The speech repeatedly juxtaposed symbolic appeals to the civil rights struggle--which constantly referenced Obama's campaign in the listener's mind--without once mentioning Obama--until the end. At the point, she briefly referenced Obama--and then spoke of continuing "our" campaign, of uniting in "our" work.

In so doing, she deftly, and for the first time effectively, outflanked Obama on the civil rights issue, and then invited--in fact tempted--Obama to join with her in her work. This was clear enough to be a signal to Obama--and to also signal the electorate that she was providing a victor's invitation to Obama--while remaining subtle enough to be changed should contingencies require it.

Psychologically sophisticated and smart. Now let's see what California brings.

-Dr. Alan J. Lipman