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Bill Clinton's "late-night adult moment" -- and other campaign code words

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she cannot imagine why former President Bill Clinton would have resurrected the saga of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s tale of arriving in Bosnia amid "sniper fire."

"He may have been having a late-night adult moment," the San Francisco Democrat said during an interview Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Attempting to explain his wife’s admittedly misspoken overstatement about the circumstances surrounding her landing in Bosnia in 1996, the former president suggested last Thursday that it’s only natural that candidates get tired on the campaign trail: "Some of them, when they’re 60, they’ll forget something when they’re tired at 11 o'clock at night, too."

Never mind that the senator had related the same tale a few times, and not only at night. Maybe Bill Clinton (who's 61) was showing his 60 side as well, Pelosi said with a laugh.

Sen. Barack Obama says he too has misspoken, ...

choosing the wrong words about his view of disenchanted working-class voters.

So now that both Democratic presidential contenders have picked up code words that enable their campaigns to be reduced, in the eyes of critics and skeptics, to a few words -– Bosnia, 3 a.m., bitter and Wright –- voters will be left to sort out the meaning of what Clinton’s critics want to portray as a question of her credibility and what Obama’s critics want to portray as a matter of his condescension.

Load another word into the sound-bite machine tonight: compassion.

The candidates are meeting at a Compassion Forum at Messiah College, a small Christian college in Grantham, Pa. The forum -- sponsored by Faith in Public Life, a Washington nonprofit that focuses on issues of justice and the common good -- was convened to examine the roles of faith and compassion in America.

"This is not a debate," a spokeswoman for the sponsor adamantly insists. Yet CNN is settling in for full-bore live coverage of the 90-minute forum, starting at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT.

So it will be telling to see how long Clinton can go without voicing the word bitter and how long Obama can refrain from a subliminal assault of his own. Nine days from an April 22 Pennsylvania primary election that has become a surprisingly close contest, it’s always possible that the candidates might add another word to the campaign vocabulary: restraint.

-- Mark Silva

Mark Silva writes for The Swamp of the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau.

Comments () | Archives (5)

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Senator Obama has not said he "misspoke". This is something the media is saying! Senator Obama has said could have used better words. Not once has he said he "misspoke". That is Hillary's, Bill's, and her campaigin's "WORD" for explaining HILLARY'S FRAUDULANT CLAIMS ABOUT LANDING AMIDST SNIPER FIRE, PUTTING THEIR HEADS DOWN, AND RUNNING TO THEIR CARS!!!!

Please do not attach "misspoke" to Senator Obama! He ACTUALLY TOLD THE TRUTH and many people in PA and other places are agreeing. You see, you cannot possibly "misspeak" when you are telling the truth about any given situation.

This article is a good example of how the MEDIA twists things around!! How do you feel justified in saying Senator Obama "misspoke" when actually it was the term Hillary used to COVER UP her fraudulant claims. Big differences here, and you guys owe Senator Obama an apology!!

Euphemisms and 'spin'... the Clinton tools to cover up outright lies and attack competitors. 'Misspoke'... sure... she was just 'inaccurate', not lying. Other justifiers... an 'adult moment'? Most people say 'senior moment'... how out of touch is 'adult moment' except when you don't want to offend the senior vote. Maybe it was 'creeping onset of mad cow'.
Negative attacks and d@mn lies aren't good campaigning... it's just indicative of character flaws. How condescending is an outright lie? There's a lot of bitterness out there.. including bitter, losing, campaigners like Billary, the Divisive.

I think that some of the people who surround, work and/or donate their timefor Hiliary in this campaign seem to be the ones who are over stepping their bounds and crossing the line. Sometimes it seems as if they are working againist her instead of for her!! They are acting like a bunch of idiots on her behalf it seems. Unless it is a positive endeaver don't do her any more favors........Please!
As far as Obama is concerned, I am sure there is alot more to this man than meets the eye. At times when he speaks before a crowd of people, he unknowingly has made some uncanny remark or Froidian slips which leads me to think, that he is not what he really appears to be.

The media loves HRC so much, it's amazing. Her campaign says 'jump', and the media say 'how high'. They have followed the Republican strategy of claiming media bias the earliest and most often so people will believe it and the media will do anything to try to disprove it. Ever since the Sat. Night Live skit, Obama has been more under the microscope than any candidate in history.

Instead of the talking heads I see on TV. We now have the keyboard pundits on the comments section!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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