A visibly exhausted Senator Hillary Clinton's webcast interview with the editorial board of the Indianapolis Star was plagued by a series of PR faux paus that began with her exclusion of a female minority in her introductory glad-handing and lasted well through a flopped joke that left those present silent and the presidential candidate cutting off her own chuckle.
Clinton, who rarely smiled and seldom drew a laugh throughout the hour-long interview, was even more hard pressed to provide policy details -- at one point describing her major differences with Senator Barack Obama as contained within "three 'baskets' of issues...the economy, health care and foreign policy."
Clinton wasn't nearly so specific when asked if she had any introductory remarks.
"We haven't campaigned much in Indiana in recent years," said Clinton, "so it's a real special treat...Obviously I'm hoping to do well on Tuesday," she said, "but, whatever -- it's been fun and we've been made to feel so welcome, so it's been a great personal experience."
In fact, she didn't mention anything -- issues, policies or positions -- particularly meaningful to the upcoming contest in her opening remarks.
When pressed, Clinton mostly adhered to her carefully crafted script, with a few exceptions, the most interesting of which was when she contradicted herself regarding the perceived damage the prolonged primary fight was doing to the Democratic Party.
"I do not believe that this very rigorous contest is at all harmful to the Democratic Party," Clinton said. "I think it's been energizing."
Just minutes later, Clinton backtracked, saying that "I have pledged to do whatever I can to bring our party back together" following the ultimate nomination, and lending credibility to the argument that the party may be fracturing in issuing a strong warning against "the height of political foolishness" that would be Democrats refusing to support the nomination of whomever ultimately wins the primary contest.
"I'm gonna shout that from the mountaintops and the valleys and wherever I can," she said.
With dark wrinkles below her eyes and hands plodding along the boardroom table like a karaoke prompt, Clinton advocated a similarly strong position on the issue of nuclear proliferation in Iran -- a country she recently stated the U.S. should "totally obliterate" in the event of a nuclear attack on Israel.
Clinton articulated "a resumption of a theory of deterrence in an age of accelerating proliferation."
"Isn't there a danger of falling into the Bush administration's trap?" asked one reporter.
"We never stopped talking to the Soviet Union through the Cold War," answered Clinton, "but we also never deviated from a theory of deterrence."
"They would face massive retaliation," said the senator.
Of all potentialities, however, it was the political cartoonist for the Star that perhaps most caught Clinton off-guard, when he presented her with a portrait sketch and DVD of recent campaign animation work. Gary Varvel remarked on the coincidence of he and Clinton sharing the same wedding date: October 11.
"What year?" Senator Clinton asked.
"1980," said Varvel.
"I was 78," said Clinton, chuckling to herself.
No one said a word.
For Clinton, it seems, the seniors don't exactly equate in the newsroom.