|Image via emgn, Auckland.|
The two main candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are remarkably distrustful. They have set the modern standards for withholding information — his not releasing tax and health records, her not holding regular news conferences or quickly disclosing her pneumonia diagnosis. Both have a problem with spontaneous, reciprocal communication with a hint of vulnerability.
Both ultimately hew to a distrustful, stark, combative, zero-sum view of life — the idea that making it in this world is an unforgiving slog and that, given other people’s selfish natures, vulnerability is dangerous.I'll show you mine when you show me yours, Davy. How's your love life these days, and what's that new religion you're always throwing out hints about having acquired? Why does your voice keep emerging disembodied ex cathedra as if you'd never had an emotion or experience since that time you smoked weed in high school? Why don't you communicate more spontaneously? Why are your hints of vulnerability—the wry self-deprecating note of the humblebrag, "I only teach at colleges I couldn't have gotten into out of high school"—always scripted, and repeated word for word on public occasions? Don't you trust me?
I can tell you one thing: it's not lack of human trustfulness that makes Donald Trump conceal things. I'm pretty sure it's fear of criminal prosecution. In any case he has something to hide.
As for Hillary Clinton (aside from the enormous amounts of information, from tax returns to personal emails, that she has unveiled, some of it willingly, over the past months), I can't imagine why she would mistrust the campaign press corps that spends its every waking hour trying to prove that she is a moral monster precisely equivalent to Donald Trump in every way (as Brooks does in the classic bothsiderist paragraph) not because it's true but because that's what campaign journalism requires, according to people like the Times's dreadful new Public Editor Liz Spayd, as Jonathan Chait writes:
This exact form of reasoning is what caused so much of the news media to miss the asymmetric transformation of the Republican Party over the last quarter-century. To recognize this development is to record an analysis that “sounds like a partisan’s explanation,” and any partisan analysis by definition cannot be a “factual judgment.”If you assert some kind of important qualitative difference between a Democrat and a Republican then your statement is bad journalism by definition according to the Spayds of our world. Which is, you know, really abandoning the traditional understanding of empirical truth for an aesthetic understanding. And a bad OCD kind of aesthetics, too, in which symmetry is the highest value.
Then again, journalists such as Rebecca Traister who are not members of that hyena clan, and the thousands of ordinary, often distressed and needy people who have engaged one-on-one with Clinton in campaigns and junkets over the decades, don't ever see her as having a problem with warm and spontaneous communication as long as it's not with folks who have spent lifetimes attempting to destroy her:
ar from feeling like I was with an awkward campaigner, I watched her do the work of retail politics – the handshaking and small-talking and remembering of names and details of local sites and issues – like an Olympic athlete.
Far from seeing a remote or robotic figure, I observed a woman who had direct, thoughtful, often moving exchanges: with the Wheelers, with home-healthcare workers and union representatives and young parents.To paraphrase President Obama, you have a drink with Amy Chozick. I'd rather hang out with bloggers. Or Hillary Clinton, for that matter. She sounds like a nice person when Amy's out of the room.
Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.