July 13, 2006

"She does not project a sense of what is inside of her like her husband did."

WaPo has a front page story about how people have their doubts about Hillary Clinton as President.

Other quotes from the article: "People want to see authentic human beings, and she has overly managed herself." "It seems that her public image is different from her private image." "I find her too stiff and packaged."

All these quotes say roughly the same thing: That she's phony. But isn't that standard for a politician? Why is it a special problem for her? That's the question. Is it because we're so much more likely to compare her to Bill Clinton? But it's odd for us to think of him as the model of honesty! Perhaps we should prefer a leader whose falseness is easily perceived.

IN THE COMMENTS: We start with a good laugh.

39 comments:

chuck b. said...

"She does not project a sense of what is inside of her like her husband did."



Um... Ewwww?

amn said...

Well, that'll be one less stained blue dress in the second Clinton presidency.

Hamsun56 said...

"Perhaps we should prefer a leader whose falseness is easily perceived."

Jackie Mason had a funny line about Clinton, something along the lines that he missed Richard Nixon because you could easily see when he was lying, but with Clinton it was impossible to know when he was telling the truth or not.

All politicians are liars to some extent. The important thing, in terms of public rapport, is that they are comfortable with themselves in public. Bill was, but Hilary doesn't always seem to be.

John Jenkins said...

Everyone listening to WJC knew he was full of crap, but he was a likable guy. HRC is pretty much equally full of crap, but isn't very likable. Likability has a lot to do with presidential politics, even if that's irrational. The last truly unlikable candidate to win was Nixon.

This is the part where someone makes a reference to some kind of anti-female bias in politics (e.g. "people just don't like strong women."), but I don't think that's a sufficient explanation.

A lot of people just don't like *her*. I personally wouldn't vote for her because, unlike WJC, I think she is a true believer in the far left statist agenda, and I sure as hell don't want her running the country. (Yes, this means I don't think her move toward the center is genuine.)

yetanotherjohn said...

If Bubba Clinton sat down next to you at a BBQ, you wouldn't have a hard time talk with him over a beer (and I say that as someone who voted for the other guy twice when he ran).
If I had the choice of spending the same amount of time with Hillary at the mythical BBQ, listening to rap 'music' or hearing fingernails scratched across a chalk board, I would have a tough time figuring out which would be worse.
Bubba wanted to be president to be president. He didn't really have a plan other than to be liked and what Hillary wanted (look at the selection process for attorney general and tell me Hillary didn't get to determine certain things). Hillary believes she knows better how the world and us should operate and would drive relentlessly to impose her vision.

Robert Burnham said...

AAbout two week ago, Peggy Noonan got Hillary pretty much dead-on: "Hillary doesn't have to prove her guy chops. She doesn't have to prove she's a man, she has to prove she's a woman. No one in America thinks she's a woman. They think she's a tough little termagant in a pantsuit...."

See the link below for more.
http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110008579

Ann Althouse said...

Man, that Peggy Noonan really knows how to tap into the American mind. They're all thinking: Termagant!

Palladian said...

Termagant? Who writes like that?

"1 a harsh-tempered or overbearing woman.

2 ( Termagant) historical an imaginary deity of violent and turbulent character, often appearing in morality plays."

Are the Clintons characters in a morality play being acted before us?

"ORIGIN Middle English (sense 2) : via Old French from Italian Trivigante, taken to be from Latin tri- ‘three’ + vagant- ‘wandering,’ and to refer to the moon “wandering” between heaven, earth, and hell under the three names Selene, Artemis, and Persephone.

So is Hilary wandering up towards Selene or down towards Persephone?

SteveR said...

A termagant by any other name...

Truly said...

I've always been partial to "harridan" myself. However, that implies a lack of self-control, something HRC has in spades. I realize that all politicians have to compromise their beliefs, but she strikes me as being utterly without principle. Or rather, she believes wholly and entirely in herself and the acquisition of power. It's creepy.

Pogo said...

Re: "termagant",
I think Noonan is merely avoiding the word that rhymes with rich.

dklittl said...

I do happen to think that the whole "have a beer with" test is so silly and unfortunately with women is going to be a huge hurdle if people buy that bullshit. To be honest, there aren't a whole lot of women that I've ever met that I wanted to sit down and have a beer with. Now maybe, a nice meal, take in a concert of course. But just about every BBQ, I've ever been at winds up having the women in one conversation and the men in another by the end of the day.

The other interesting thing is how high the press and people are setting the bar for a Hillary presidency compared to how low they set one for Bush. The thing that makes a lot of Democrats worry is that quite frankly no matter what she does, or how she acts, hell if she came out for new tax cuts and more troops in Iraq that some people are just looking to saw her down regardless. I know that Republican love that whole "Bush Bash"-thing for all of his critics, maybe Hillary's supporters need to come up with one of their own.

Dawn said...

Speaking as a woman, I just don't trust her. I didn't trust Bubba either, but at least I knew where I stood with him - he was emotionally transparent. She's emotionally distant - I have never gotten a feeling of warmth from her; she appears to be going through the motions.

In my book, she's up there in 'warmth' with Madame Mao.

StrangerInTheseParts said...

Ann asks: "she's phony. But isn't that standard for a politician? Why is it a special problem for her? That's the question"

I think most politicians are phony in a way that you know how to correct for the gap between their public presentation of self and the real person behind that screen. We see the phony but we all know the real story behind the phony.

HRC has a really weird dissonance between how she presents herself overtly and what we sense is going inside her. She is NOT a phony like other politicians. The gap between what you see and what you suspect you're going to get is much larger and harder to assess.

Balfegor said...

she's up there in 'warmth' with Madame Mao.

Madame Mao? I know she was part of that whole Gang of Four thing after Mao died, but isn't Madame Chiang Kai-Shek the one who has the higher public profile in the US consciousness? There's that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:

One night at dinner, the President asked in passing how she would deal with a troublesome labor leader like John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers. Without missing a beat, Madame Chiang passed her hand across her throat. Eleanor Roosevelt later said: "Those delicate, little petal-like fingers—you could see some poor wretch's neck being wrung."

And there's also the whole thing about proposing we nuke China to take it back for the Nationalists.

Moving on, for Clinton, I think the phoniness itselfis not actually all that problematic for me. My concern is the substance of what that phoninesss might be hiding -- whether underneath her "moderate" guise, she still wants to implement things like Hillarycare and all that. With her husband, after a few initial (failed) gestures at genuine left-wing policies, we saw him grow rightward, and adopt either increasingly trivial policies (V-chips, school uniforms, other "microinitiatives") or right-wing policies (welfare reform, NAFTA, DOMA, etc.) We didn't see that with Hillary Clinton, because she wasn't actually in office -- we have no guarantee that she'll be as beholden to the polls as her husband was. For all we know, she might revert to the principles she revealed in the early 90's, as soon as she attains the supreme office.

That said, I'd probably vote for her over McCain, who creeps me out. At least Hillary Clinton hasn't ever fostered a personality cult. It'd be like Jiang Zemin's personality cult if she did -- a sad, sad little thing.

Bissage said...

Stranger's 9:11 reminded me of that scene from "Reversal of Fortune" where Alan Dershowitz remarks to a colleague (about Claus von B├╝low) something like "How do you trust someone you don't understand?"

Editor Theorist said...

From a British perspective, it seems to me that Americans prefer to elect an optimist President (if they are given the choice) - eg. Teddy and RD Roosavelts, JFK, R Reagan. GW Bush was more optimistic than his rivals.

This is a matter of national character, and I find it an admirable trait - on the whole.

Bill Clinton came across as a genuine optimist, Hilary Clinton does not.

If HC runs against a convincing optimist such as C Rice or R Giuliani, she will probably lose.

Bissage said...

Editor Theorist, I think you answered my question from the other thread about what it was we loved about Bill Clinton: optimism.

Thanks.

John(classic) said...

"That she's phony. But isn't that standard for a politician? Why is it a special problem for her?"

Because people don't like to have their face rubbed in it?

Seven Machos said...

I would call what successful presidential candidates have "charisma." It's what all leaders have, and it's what we are drawn to in leaders.

Nixon seems to be the outlier and is a lot like Gore. If you can't win following two terms of Eisenhower or Clinton, when can you win? People must have been really tired of Johnson...

SteveR said...

I've never seen her appear candid, in any interview or public appearance. Everything looks calculated to avoid having to be spontaneous. Perhaps its her lawyerly instincts or maybe she's just not able to operate that way.

Like him or not, Bill did stuff like play the sax on Arsenio Hall, HRC doesn't ever take a chance of looking that casual.

Pogo said...

Hillary has such a "Message: I care" thing going for her.

She reminds me of a school superintendant, one that everyone fears, one who constantly harps about "the children" when she means to increase her power, one who talks about everyone as "family", only it's the kind of family where "walking on eggshells", obsequiousness, and frequent adulation of the boss is required.

PatCA said...

I don't think her heart is really in it. Every time I see her, I see a conflicted baby boomer feminist who desperately has to prove to everybody that she can do anything Bill can do. She came to Arkansas! She raised the kid! Now it's her turn!

She belongs on some federal court, not in politics.

Robert Burnham said...

I think Americans want presidents who are outgoing, confident, and optimistic because these are qualities most citizens see as essential characteristics of the country and its culture.

In the case of politicians who have special (expert) knowledge of particular subjects, this knowledge is a much iffier thing when it comes to getting elected. Experts need to wield expertise very carefully and lightly if they seek national office.

I don't think people expect a politician running for president to be up to speed on every subject, or even many of them. What people look for is politicians who seem to have good all-around judgement and instincts, plus a personal warmth.

No one questions Hillary's competence (her political philosophy is another matter). Where she always comes up short is warmth. Seems to me you can "love" Hillary only from an ideological viewpoint.

Lack of warmth isn't necessarily fatal — see: Nixon, Richard M. But it does put a gigantic hurdle in her way.

But who knows what the Democrats — or the voters in general — will do in 2008?

Jeff said...

Hilary "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good" Clinton?

She is the very embodiment of punitive liberalism of the sort which has been out of favor nationally ever since Jimmy Carter's "Malaise" speech.

Bruce Hayden said...

One other thing that I distrust in Hillary is her honesty and ethics. Remember, of all the Clinton scandals, the sex scandals were Bill's, and the scandals involving money and abuse of power were all hers (though he was complacent in them). Need I list them? Cattle futures; Whitewater; Rose Law Firm billing records; Bimbo erruption team; FBI files; IRS audits; presidential pardons for money; and finally, "accidently" removing WH furnishings, etc. when they departed.

jult52 said...

There are so many spot-on posts on this thread that I don't know where to begin.

John Jenkins; balfegor: I also think she's an unadulterated socialist under her patina of center-left-talk. And I'm not using the term "socialist" as a partisan epithet; it's a descriptive term here.

editor theorist: my sentiments exactly. Americans elect optimists to be President. Or at least the most optimistic of the major candidates.

pogo: oh, yes.

bissage: Thanks for referring to that best of all triangle movies, "Reversal of Fortune."

Seven Machos said...

Actually, Bruce, I would suggest that what exactly is brilliant about Clinton is that he has somehow been able to behave such that you believe that all the scandals involve Hillary Clinton, and that he is just a good, ole boy who loves the ladies.

I think the Ferris Bueller Presidency was pretty neato (though there were some problems that went negligently unaddressed, most notably the rise of Arab Islamist militarism). I don't want to have the Reese-Witherspoon-in-Election Presidency. So I probably won't be voting for Hillary.

SGT Ted said...

The issue os Hilliary isn't that she is a phoney. It's that she is such an ameteur at it. That and she is also very un-likeable. When she is angry, she comes across like the nightmare ex-wife from hell. She says such obvious bullshit that she can't carry off being a phoney. Her entire life has been dedicated to radical leftist politics and it shows, despite the MSM silence on her radical past. How else can someone who votes for all abortions to be legal turn around and say that there can be some "middle ground" in the abortion debate and expect to not be called on it?

John in Nashville said...

My theory as to how President Clinton survived impeachment is that the things that drove his critics the craziest are things that the voting public had already figured into their electoral calculation. People knew in 1992 and in 1996 that Bill Clinton had zipper problems, as well as problems telling the truth. The public (or at least sufficient pluralities of the electorate)nevertheless preferred him to the first President Bush and to Senator Dole, and his approval ratings during his second term suggested that his undeniable faults did not warrant an end run around the results of an election.

PSGInfinity said...

SGT Ted said...

"How else can someone who votes for all abortions to be legal turn around and say that there can be some "middle ground" in the abortion debate and expect to not be called on it?"

That's just it. She expects; nay, demands that she never ever be called on anything. It oozes out of her every pore, has soaked every fiber of her being.

I also support YetAnotherJohn's theory: a dense cloud of Know-It-All hangs malodorously in the air whenever she's around. She knows best, damnit, and don't you forget it you stupid peasant.

She doesn't want to be President. In her heart, she wishes to be Queen.

vnjagvet said...

I have never seen so many perceptive comments about HRC on one thread.

To me she is a combination of Nixon (intelligence and calculating deviousness) and Carter (Jeff's know it all liberal) without their sparkling personality traits.

ignacio said...

Great thread. I'd like to send it to my sister, who has good judgment on many things but would vote for Hillary without a second thought.

(That "without a second thought" is so often the problem, isn't it?)

PatCA said...

"The issue os Hilliary isn't that she is a phoney. It's that she is such an ameteur at it."

So true. You can tell when she is launching into a prepared statement. The animation drains from her face, especially around the eyes, and she repeats the phrase carefully, as if s is trying to hide that she has memorized it.

Cate Long said...

When Mrs. Clinton starts to run for President her opponent will endlessly replay tapes of her angrily yelling and pontificating...she has been captured numerous times in mildly hysterical rants...she is scary when you see these tapes...all the warm cozy positioning will be swept away...

dearieme said...

Nixon was compared to a used car salesman. The comparison that occurs to me for little Madame Cattle-Futures is the knitters sitting by the guillotine. La Tricoteuse?

37383938393839383938383 said...

Because people don't like to have their face rubbed in it?

Actually, some people do, and if Hillary had understood that maybe her husband wouldn't have gone looking for it elsewhere and gotten impeached.

Robert Morrow said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Sorry, Robert. I deleted that partly because of length, but mostly because it named a lot of people and asserted facts that could be libelous.