Dog days of campaigning: Why is Hillary Clinton barking?

In Nevada, Hillary Clinton recalled an old radio ad in Arkansas where a dog would bark every time a politician said something that wasn’t true. And she demonstrated what it sounded like.

James Glover II/Reuters
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, February 15, 2016.

A, insult-spewing reality TV star is the GOP frontrunner, a revolution-stirring self-described socialist is threatening to upend the Democratic race, and now a former first lady and secretary of state is barking like a dog.

Yes, Hillary Clinton barked at a campaign rally in Reno, Nev., Monday evening, and set the blogosphere on fire.

Mrs. Clinton was expressing her disbelief that Republicans want to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act – a regulatory reform bill passed to prevent another recession – because, as she put it, "they say the great recession was caused by too much regulation on Wall Street."

Suggesting Republicans were lying to voters, Clinton said their claims reminded her of an old radio ad in Arkansas where a dog would bark every time a politician said something that wasn’t true.

"One of my favorite, favorite political ads of all time was a radio ad in rural Arkansas where the announcer said, 'wouldn't it be great if somebody running for office said something we could have an immediate reaction to whether it was true or not. Well, we have trained this dog and the dog, if it is not true, he is going to bark.' And the dog was barking on the radio, and so you know people were barking at each other for days after that," she said.

"I'm trying to figure out how we can do that with Republicans," Clinton continued. "You know. We need to get that dog and follow them around and every time they say these things, like, 'Oh, the great recession was caused by too much regulation –'"

And then Mrs. Clinton began barking.

"Arf, arf, arf, arf!"

It was actually a spot-on impression of a yappy lap dog, and the audience appeared to like it, with some adding their own barks and howls to the canine chorus.

Of course, the clip of Clinton yelping, all two seconds of it, went viral and inspired a torrent of tweets (#Hillarybarking), retorts, and theories.

The conservative Free Beacon's Sonny Bunch suggested the canine impression was like the Howard Dean Scream, the infamous 2008 caucus rally primal shriek that reportedly sunk the Democratic presidential candidate's campaign.

Some blamed it on Clinton's age.

Others used it to revive a month-old joke wherein Donald Trump compared a barking sound in the audience to Clinton.

And some saw it as a final, fatal yap.

One outlet even used it to make a point about the "sinkhole of sexism" in US politics.

Of course, over-analyzing is bloodsport in politics. Yes, Clinton's Maltese moment was head-scratching and a little strange. But no, it's highly unlikely it will spell her campaign's conclusion, a la Howard Dean (Gov. Dean had other problems).

More likely, Clinton was tired from weeks on the campaign trail and feeling pressure to beat rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who has been closing her lead in the polls ahead of Nevada's Saturday Democratic caucuses. Maybe she was even taking a page from Mr. Trump's playbook, getting in some media coverage ahead of the vote.

In fact, in this campaign cycle, in which presidential candidates alternately call for revolutions or spew schoolyard expletives and presidential debates devolve into Jerry Springer-esque spectacles, not much surprises us.

Or, as this Twitter user put it:

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