Tuesday, September 01, 2015


In his latest column, David Brooks tries to explain why Hillary Clinton is having some trouble in the polls. One reason, he informs us, is that she has "an embattled combative posture, and sometimes an air of reactiveness."
In her campaign speeches she describes a political, economic and global world that is red in tooth and claw. The main traits required to survive in this struggle against the contemptible foes are tenacity, toughness and calculation. There is a pervasive us/them assumption in her speeches, and the need for armoring up. The defining verb in her political campaign is “fight.”

In speeches she is at her best when describing people who have been pushed to the wall by circumstances -- the single mom who is trying to find a way to pay for day care, the college student deluged with rising tuition costs. She can be quite funny in her speeches, but her humor is the humor of the counterattack -- mostly sarcastic humor aimed at Republicans, the press and her critics.
So that's why she's struggling?

Okay, read that passage again, but imagine that Brooks is describing Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton. Is there anything Brooks says about Clinton in what I've quoted that isn't more or less true of Trump? Doesn't he portray "a political, economic and global world that is red in tooth and claw" in which the requisite survival skills are "tenacity, toughness and calculation"? Isn't his humor "the humor of the counterattack -- mostly sarcastic humor aimed at Republicans, the press and ... critics"? Doesn't he champion "people who have been pushed to the wall by circumstances," or at least people whose family members have been the victims of crimes attributed to undocumented immigrants?

Look, there's obviously a big difference between the campaign styles of Trump and Clinton. Trump is a happy warrior; Clinton, this year, seems rather miserable on the trail. Trump has found his party's pleasure centers, whereas Clinton is still searching for what thrills her party. But Brooks says that an angry message and a dark view of the world are harmful to a campaign. And for Trump that's not true at all.


See also Rebecca Traister at New York magazine, on the subject of whether there's a double standard in the coverage of Clinton and Joe Biden:
Consider for a moment everything that we know to be problematic with Hillary Clinton’s candidacy:

She is regarded as a centrist Democrat. She is old. She is compromised on the right by her attachment to the Obama administration, compromised on the left by her relentless 2008 campaign against Obama, in which she deployed egregious rhetoric about “hardworking white people.” Clinton has been way too cozy with the financial industry, both in the Senate, wherein 2001 she voted for a bill that made it harder for consumers to declare bankruptcy (similar to one she’d urged her husband to veto back when she was First Lady) and more recently, when she, Bill, and Chelsea have accepted ginormous speaking fees from institutions to which no lawmaker -- let alone president -- should be beholden....

Just compare her to Joe Biden. Who is a centrist Democrat, older than Hillary by five years, and wholly enmeshed in the Obama administration. Biden also made appalling remarks during the 2008 race, calling Obama “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.” As a senator from Delaware, home of the credit-card industry, he voted for several versions of the bankruptcy bill, in a period that overlapped with the years that his son Hunter was drawing a hefty consulting fee from financial-services behemoth MBNA, a company that was regularly among the biggest donors to Biden’s political races. Hunter Biden also works on the board of a Ukrainian gas company that has lobbied Congress in its efforts to help Ukraine become energy independent....
And yet Biden is getting lots of media love right now, while Clinton is getting next to none. Read the whole thing, especially what Traister writes about the overwhelmingly positive press treatment of Biden's relationship with Elizabeth Warren, which hasn't been much cozier over the years than Clinton's but sure has been treated that way of late in the press.

I don't deny Hillary Clinton's shortcomings as a candidate. But some of the things she does are seen as flawed because of who she is, not what she's doing.


mlbxxxxxx said...

And what she is, being a girl and all.

Anonymous said...

Where are you getting this "Hillary seems miserable" thing? It's all over your recent comments. Workmanlike, perhaps, but that's hardly rare for serious politicians saying serious things.