Mockery: An Effective Weapon?

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., lashes out at Democratic presidential rival, Sen. Barack Obama during a news conference after her rally at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in Cincinnati, Ohio, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008. Holding mailings, which she said are being sent by Obama's campaign, Clinton said, "Shame on you, Barack Obama. It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public _ that's what I expect from you." At right, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
There's another big debate for the Democrats tonight -- the last face-to-face showdown before the oh-so-crucial primaries in Ohio and Texas next week.

I think this is the third time I've written this lead line in the last month or so. The only difference being the states involved…and so much as happened in that time.

Barack Obama has taken the lead in the national polls against Hillary Clinton; in some cases, by more than 10 percent. And unthinkable turn of events say last December. Senator Clinton is fighting hard to get the momentum back and on the stump, she's resorted to mocking her rival.

Mockery is an effective weapon, but it requires a deft touch.

Remember Ann Richards speaking about the first George Bush - "born with a silver foot in his mouth."

All humor is based in grievance. The trick is to make the grievance amusing, as opposed seeming aggrieved.

You know you've got it right if everyone laughed. Did they?

By Harry Smith
  • Harry Smith

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