It's increasingly clear that Hillary Clinton is going to be covered like Al Gore. Meaningless anecdotes will be framed as revealing deep aspects of her character; everything she says is going to be portrayed as the result of political calculation; and every shift in tone or emphasis will be covered as an attempted reinvention of her persona.
Just considers Mark Leibovich's New York Times profile, which opens with a supposedly revealing discussion of this:
Apparently, Leibovich believes it holds key insights into her character:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton signs autographs meticulously, drawing out each line and curve of "H-i-l-l-a-r-y," "R-o-d-h-a-m" and "C-l-i-n-t-o-n." She leaves no stray lines or wayward marks.
"Hillary, over here, over here," called out a young woman from the mob that formed outside the Berlin Town Hall when Mrs. Clinton, Democrat of New York, arrived for a "conversation," in the parlance of the made-to-order intimacy of her presidential campaign. "Can you sign my Hillary sign, please?" the woman asked.
Mrs. Clinton autographed the poster, carefully. It took a full seven or eight seconds, none of the two-second scribbles of other politicians. She is the diligent student who gets an A in penmanship, the woman in a hurry who still takes care to dot her i's.
Let me speak for all Americans: who the f--- cares?
Leibovich then moves on to a Dowd-esque attempt to attach a number of archetypal personas to Hillary, even calling her current campaign "Version 08, Nurturing Warrior, Presidential Candidate Model":
She is, in this latest unveiling, the Nurturing Warrior. She displays a cozy acquaintance ("Let's chat") and leaderly confidence ("I'm in it to win it"). She is a tea-sipping girlfriend who vows to "deck" anyone who attacks her; a giggly mom who invokes old Girl Scout songs and refuses to apologize for voting for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002. Her aim, of course, is to show that she is tough enough to lead Americans in wartime but tender enough to understand their burdens.
Over the years, Mrs. Clinton has evolved through a series of female personas. Her outspoken feminism and perceived putdown of cookie-baking mothers provoked fierce criticism. She became the classic "woman wronged" after the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
As a Senate candidate in 2000, Mrs. Clinton embraced the role of an attentive "listener" as opposed to the power-hungry climber many had suspected. In the Senate, Mrs. Clinton has applied herself to winning over colleagues and becoming one of the boys...
It is not easy, though, to humanize a juggernaut, which Mrs. Clinton's well-financed and hyperdisciplined campaign most certainly is. And it is difficult to appear authentic in tightly controlled settings, or conduct intimate conversations amid mobs of people, many wearing press credentials.
But the senator is trying hard. In appearances in Washington and around the country, Mrs. Clinton — Version 08, Nurturing Warrior, Presidential Candidate Model — is speaking more freely of her gender than she has in years. Her campaign knows that Democratic women are her most loyal supporters. Ann Lewis, a senior campaign aide, points out that women made up 54 percent of the electorate in 2004; Mrs. Clinton garnered 73 percent of female voters in her re-election campaign last year, compared with 61 percent of male voters, according to exit polls.
The rest of the article includes sections on "The Listener," "The Sister Act," and "Tough Hostess," which are again intended as descriptions of Clinton's various personas.
The problem with this kind of coverage is that every politician is in some sense calculated. Their public persona always evolves over time and varies by context. But as a result of the conventional wisdom about authenticity, some politicians have their every move framed as calculated (Hillary, Gore) and some don't (McCain). It's completely arbitrary.