Hillary Clinton has spent much of her presidential campaign combating opponents’ claims that she too often uses bad judgment. She’s finally giving up the fight.
“Critics have questioned some of your decision-making recently,” comedian Zach Galifianakis begins an interview on the latest episode of “Between Two Ferns,” “and by you doing this show, I hope it finally lays that to rest.”
“Oh, I think it — it absolutely proves their case, don’t you?” Clinton replies.
Humor might not be the Democratic candidate’s default defense tactic, but she deploys it effectively in the same Funny or Die comedy series that President Obama once used to mock birtherism and promote the Affordable Care Act.
Clinton appeared on “Saturday Night Live” last fall. She was on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last month and the “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon on Monday. So she was not in entirely new territory with Galifianakis.
But Clinton’s “Between Two Ferns” appearance seems specially designed to satirize certain attacks that she and her supporters consider ridiculous or even sexist.
An onscreen graphic, for example, identifies Clinton not as “Democratic presidential nominee” or “former secretary of state” but as “had pneumonia” — tweaking those who traffic in conspiracy theories about her health.
Then there is this exchange:
GALIFIANAKIS: Are you excited to be the first girl president?
CLINTON: Well, I mean, being president would be such an extraordinary honor and responsibility. But being the first woman elected president and what that would mean for our country and particularly what that would mean for, you know, not just little girls — little boys, too. That — that’s pretty special.
GALIFIANAKIS: Not to take away from the historical significance of you perhaps becoming the first female president, but for a younger, younger generation, you will also become their first white president, and that’s pretty neat, too.
[Clinton nods silently]
GALIFIANAKIS: As secretary, how many words per minute could you type? And how does President Obama like his coffee? Like himself — weak?
CLINTON: You know, Zach, those are really out-of-date questions. I, I — you need to get out more.
GALIFIANAKIS: What happens if you become pregnant? Are we gonna be stuck with Tim Kaine for nine months? How does this work?
CLINTON: I, I could send you some pamphlets that might help you understand.
Presidential candidates often use appearances on comedy shows to show different sides of themselves and reach voters who don’t follow politics closely. These considerations were likely part of Clinton’s calculus here, too. But there was another layer to the sketch. Galifianakis became a straw man for anyone who might quietly — or even unconsciously — harbor some concern about electing a woman president, and Clinton knocked him down.