Nobody’s public status benefits from passive voice like Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s.
It’s helped her appear to be a serious contender for a U.S. Supreme Court appointment (she wasn’t) in 2007 when media outlet after media outlet claimed her name “had been mentioned” as a possible justice. The rumor was traced back to a single blogger who had initially pointed out that she wasn’t on anybody’s list. But, hey, her name was mentioned. Close enough.
This is how the rumor game works in the media, as it did again in 2010 when reporters suggested she was a possible candidate to replace attorney general Eric Holder, citing the fact her name “had been floated.” Where was it “floated”? On Twitter.
It happened again today when Klobuchar’s name came up as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton, according to CBS News.
When she was introduced on CBS This Morning today, the host again said “her name has been mentioned” as a Clinton running mate.
Who did the mentioning? Now, the CBS reporter. And also, because I’m writing about it, me.
But it was another blogger, in this case, a contributor to Daily Kos, who wrote in April that Klobuchar will be the country’s next vice president.
Klobuchar would bring skills to a Clinton White House bid. But there are also plenty of reasons why her being selected is a political long shot.
Le Champignon, who makes a living as an engineer, made a compelling argument in the post. But one thing is missing: A shred of evidence that Klobuchar is under serious consideration.
Reihan Salam, writing on Slate earlier this year, listed Klobuchar as one of five Democrats who should run for president, again citing no intelligence indicating that’s a viable option.
Klobuchar does almost nothing to derail the faux speculation.
To be sure, Kloubuchar wants to be president. So do 434 other politicians on Capitol Hill.
But her arc is perfectly tracking the book on how to raise a national profile, from a 2008 evening speaking gig at the Democratic National Convention, to refusing to dampen faux rumors, to professing to just wanting to be a good senator from Minnesota, to writing a book about her life, which will be made relevant on national news programs by — wait for it — noting that her name has been mentioned for vice president or president.
In turn, Klobuchar, as she was today, will be a Hillary Clinton soldier, echoing her talking points when given the opportunity. Unquestionably, that’s how people get ahead in politics. Political capital.
So why not just say it? Because she doesn’t have to.
“Note that this book is called ‘The Senator Next Door,'” she said when asked about her ambitions today. “And I like my job now.”
That didn’t answer the question that was asked, but it isn’t in the national news media’s best interest for her to dampen the speculation. To do so leaves Klobuchar as just a senator from Minnesota. And who would really care what a senator from Minnesota thinks except for people in Minnesota?
Compare this non-response response to the Star Tribune’s speculation piece on the front page today.
“People have talked to me about it in the past,” Klobuchar said recently in her Minneapolis home. “When someone talks to you about it, you have to think about it in your mind, and I have, but the reason I wrote this book had nothing to do with that.”
Tim Pawlenty, who also wrote a book after saying he wasn’t running for president, then ran for president, knows how the game works.
“People usually publish books for one of a few reasons,” he told the Strib. “They want to send a message, or tell an important story, they want to supplement their income … or it’s often viewed as a prerequisite to run for higher office.”
The book will help Klobuchar get her national attention. So will reporters who refuse to use the active voice or point out — as CBS’ host refused to today — that Klobuchar’s “I like my job” isn’t an answer to the question they’re asking.