At the end of tonight’s debate – a debate in which Clinton seemed willing to take quite a few sharp jabs at Obama – she wrapped things up by shaking his hand and saying something like “I’m honoured to be sitting next to Barack Obama. And whatever happens in this election, he and I will be fine – we have support from our families, our friends. The question is whether we’ll be able to say the same of the American people, and that’s what this election is about.”
All the tv commentators seem to be referring to this as a “conciliatory” remark on her part. Am I the only one who heard the last part of her line as a veiled barb – suggesting that the American people might not be fine if they voted for Obama?
That seems like a strained parallel construction. It would be more natural to read it as “the American people will be fine if their families and friends support them,” though a bit pointless; the likely reading seems to be, “The question is whether we’ll be able to say [that we have support from] the American people, and that’s what this election is about.”
You heard correctly, IMO.
FWIW, the transcript:
SEN. CLINTON: And you know, whatever happens, we’re going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we’ll be able to say the same thing about the American people, and that’s what this election should be about. Thanks. (Cheers, applause.)
Paraphrasing: this election should be about having strong support from the American people. Duh!
Alternative demagogic view: this election should be about the American people.
When I just read the words, I don’t feel a strong interpretive pull in one direction or the other. But when I hear them as she said them, it still sounds to me as though “the same thing about the American people” refers back to “we’re going to be fine.”
Take a watch/listen here. It starts around 4:08.
You’re right. It does sound like she’s asking if the American people are going to be fine after the election, which goes back to the demagogic view (and which could be interpreted as “if you don’t elect ME, ME, ME, you’ll be doing the WRONG, WRONG thing!”).