The Nana Factor

WaMo drew a bit of mockery last year for Haley Sweetland Edwards’ piece suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s impending acquisition of status as a grandmother might be a significant factor in “softening” her image going into a potential 2016 campaign. It’s now looking rather prescient, as evidenced by this Gabriel Debenedetti piece for Politico noting HRC’s use of the grandmother role in the brouhaha over vaccinations:

Hillary Clinton is embracing her inner grandma.

After Republican 2016 hopefuls spent a day struggling to finesse the vaccination debate, the 67-year-old Clinton weighed in roughly an hour before midnight: “The science is clear,” she tweeted late Monday. “The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest.”

It was just 127 characters, but it struck a chord — especially her new hashtag. By Tuesday evening the tweet had garnered roughly 24,000 retweets — reaching millions of Twitter followers and making it her most-shared tweet since she jabbed Fox during February 2014’s Super Bowl.

“It does tap into something that is potentially really powerful for her in terms of how she connects, and how she communicates,” said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist and alum of President Bill Clinton’s White House. “When she offers a theory of government and connects it to her biography, in particular being a mom and a grandma, and talking about intergenerational equity issues and the possibility to do right by your kids — the combination there is a really, really powerful way to communicate.”

This bears watching, and a few cynics may owe Haley an apology.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.