Saturday, March 19, 2016

On Hillary

Betfair International is a gambling site that is based in the archipelago of Malta.  There, you can find odds on all sorts of things, including US politics.  Currently, those odds tell us that Hillary is roughly four times as likely to be President as her nearest competitor (Donald Trump), who is roughly five times as likely as the next closest competitor (John Kasich).   In other words, if you take stock in the wisdom of people who put their money where their mouth is, we’re approaching a return to the White House for Billary – the power couple of the 90s.

When put that way, it is easy to see why Hillary is doing so well in the betting markets.  This is, after all, an insane year in politics. The GOP front runner, Donald Trump, is increasingly being compared by liberals to Adolph Hitler, and even the (former) power-brokers of his party are staging a counter-mutiny against him and his supporters.   Under the circumstances, it only stands to reason that many, if not most, voters would be clamoring for an earlier era – an era before 9/11, Shock-and-Awe, WMDs, the Great Recession, and calls for bans against Muslims.  And who was last in the White House before the insanity started?  Bill and Hillary.  Compared to the demagogues of the moment, hers is a voice of sanity.  She speaks in nuanced terms, and as one who is clearly steeped in both domestic and foreign policy.   No one can claim that her positions are outside of the mainstream; indeed, just like her husband, Hillary never strays too far from the political center on any issue.  Nor can anyone question her experience, for she has served as an active first lady, a Senator from a large state, and as the Secretary of State.  She has the respect of Congressmen and women on both sides of the aisle as well as foreign leaders.  In short, she comes across as an adult at a time when immaturity is running rampant. 

So why then is there such trepidation in liberal America that Donald Trump may be our next President?  There is no one reason – and that, itself, is the answer.  Here are some of the explanations:

1.      Liberals have lost faith in the wisdom of the American public.
2.      Liberals assume that Americans instinctively support the candidate who is most down-to-earth and relatable, and Trump certainly excels in those respects.  (As I like to say, whoever we would prefer as a football analyst is almost certainly the one who will win the election.)
3.      Trump has demonstrated his skills as a political hit man, and if he can take down a Bush, why not a Clinton?
4.      Voting in the Republican primaries is way up, and voting in the Democratic primaries is down. (For example, in Ohio, even though Trump lost by double digits and Hillary won by double digits, he received more votes than she did).  Thus, that all the GOP has to do is unify internally, and it will likely prevail.
5.      At a time when nearly everyone is frustrated with the status quo, it is Trump, not Clinton, who is running as a change agent.  For the most part, Hillary’s message is that President Obama has done a great job and she will continue his legacy.  Yawn.

But let’s not kid ourselves.  There is one explanation for the Trump-might-win anxiety that reigns supreme, even though liberals don’t like to talk about it: precious few people are passionate about Hillary.   And that only makes sense.  Just listen to her own words:  “I am not a natural politician, in case you haven’t noticed, like my husband or President Obama.”  Worse yet, Hillary is an Apollonian figure, and these are Dionysian times.  She is PBS at a moment in history that seems to call for WWE.   We are so frustrated and angry that we are willing to take risks in order to shake things up.   Yet Hillary has become the quintessential risk-hater.   Whenever a controversial issue surfaces, she waits until it is safe to take a position.  Then, when she does finally opine, she dances around to the point where it’s often difficult to tell what her position is.  That is not the voice we want these days. 

It is not surprising that the demographic that is feeling especially assailed right now, the one Hillary counted on to beat Obama in 2008 – white men – have bailed on her.  Obama showed that you can win the Presidency without winning a majority of that demographic.  But then again, he was a “natural politician.”  He could inspire.  The best she can hope to do is to reassure.

Fortunately for Hillary, that ought to be enough.  And it can be enough.   All Hillary has to do is give up her un-natural politicking style, and be herself.   Something tells me that when she is charming GOP legislators in one-on-one meetings, she’s not screaming at them.  So why then does she feel compelled to scream from the stump whenever she’s trying to rally the troops?   Something tells me that when a woman tells Hillary off-camera that all five of her children are “feeling the Bern,” Hillary doesn’t give a “thumbs up” signal with both hands and smile.  But that was precisely how Hillary reacted to such a statement at a New Hampshire Town Hall meeting.  

Most Americans may not be as intelligent or as worldly as Hillary, but they can often spot a phony.  Since Hillary is not a gifted actress, her phoniness is on display whenever she takes a stage.  This above all else is what is hemorrhaging her support and ratcheting up her negatives.

  So why not just jettison the phoniness, Hillary?  Why not just show America who you truly are?  If they don’t like it, that’s their problem.  If they do like it, you’re off to the races – and we all stand to benefit.   

Are you essentially a moderate or a progressive?  I don’t know, but you do.  Please tell us.

Is there anything that President Obama has done that you really didn’t like?   Please share that too.

What political cause moves you most viscerally?   What cause comes in second?  

On which topics, are your real views furthest away from the mainstream of the Democratic Party?   Do you mind telling us what those views are and why you have them?

  Are you willing to admit that it was greed that caused you to ask the University of Missouri to pay you $275,000 to give a single speech?  Or that caused you to take $300,000 for giving a speech at the University of California at Los Angeles? 

Would you mind sharing with us the transcripts of your speeches to Wall Street – the ones that paid you a quarter of a million dollars per hour?  You’ve parlayed a career in public service in a life as a zillionaire; don’t the taxpayers have a right to know what you’ve said to earn all those millions? 

How do you expect us to relate to someone who lives like you do and speaks like you do?  Do you have any foibles?  Redeemable vices?

Is there anything you’ve done in political life that you’re ashamed of?  (If it’s illegal, you can keep that to yourself – but if it’s not illegal, do tell.)

Hillary, you’ve told a lot of whoppers in your life, but none is bigger than your statement that the American public knows you.   We don’t.   We see a face and we hear a voice, but you are like a Shakespearean actor – playing a character, hidden behind a mask.

You can very well win this election even with your mask up.  You can scream at us, pander to us, and perform for us – and your opponent is likely to be such a buffoon that the odds are with you.  But as long as you’re putting on an act, you’re ensuring one thing above all else: once elected, you wouldn’t be a transformational figure.  You’d be just another failed President in an era of polarization.

If you want to unify this country and make a difference, and I believe you do, we need to see and hear the real you.  The natural you.   Fear not – we might not agree with you as often on the issues, but we’d come to trust you far more and, hopefully, even to like you.   Remember, Americans have trouble liking people they can’t relate to.  And as long as you continue to be an actress with poor skills who is playing the role of a leader who agrees with the Democratic Party establishment on every issue, walks through life surrounded by Secret Service Agents and sycophants, and is drenched in money and power, you’ll be about as relatable as Ted Cruz.   If that doesn’t wake you up to the problem, I don’t know what would.


Allen Hile said...

Very thoughtful and gracefully written. I find myself agreeing.

Nevertheless, your theme at heart is that Hillary is sort of unmagical. And no doubt about it, she does not project much inspiration, charisma, or magic. But I think we as a nation have to get over looking for some sort of enchantment radiating from our leaders. Maybe this is primarily an American thing -- exactly how much of a thrill is Angela Merkel? Ennchanted American leaders tend to die young (JFK) or fail as often as not (TR). The one real snow job magician was Reagan -- a "successful" president who was a disaster for America. Everything bad started with him, except the southern strategy, and that began with Nixon. But I digress. The point is, the magic is irrelevant to whether the outcome of the presidency was good for the people and the country.

Our system does not allow for one magic man or woman to sprinkle fairy dust on the body politic and produce peace and plenty (or maybe triumph and treasure) for everybody. The zeitgeist has to raise it up collective magic: FDR, Reagan.

I would settle for somebody that can just do the job. A steak, sans the sizzle, if you please.

Daniel Spiro said...


It's not just about the "magic." It's also about how to earn people's trust.

Anyway, her chance to at least get elected seems to be growing by the day, as establishment Republicans are increasingly making the choice to consider promoting a third-party candidate should Trump win the Republican nomination. For whatever reason, they seem to prefer Clinton to Trump. I must say that I wouldn't have expected this last Summer when the campaign began.