Let's talk about Hillary

Hillary Clinton, exultant
Hillary Clinton — the happy, joyful one

| Next week the political circus moves to Philadelphia to annoint Hillary Clinton the Democratic Party nominee for president. The Trumpicans set such a low bar at their convention, that the Democratic convention has to look good by comparison.

About the only fuss that can be expected will center on the extent to which Sanders' die-hard supporters express their disgruntlement that Hillary hasn't capitulated and adopted Sanders' position en masse and hasn't named a running mate from the far-left wing of the party. Trump has made an overt overture to the Sanders bloc to come over to him; Bernie can do much to solidify Hillary's position as the nominee by making a full-throated endorsement when he speaks, making it clear that it is time for his followers to admit that he lost, that they have already gained much in the platform, and that they must come out to vote for Hillary to make sure the Trump does not get any where near the oval office.

The biggest obstacle facing Hillary in the coming election is that of her "unfavorables" - the very large percentage of people who view her unfavorably.

Strongly unfavorable views of Hillary
Nearly half of those polled have a "strongly unfavorable" view of Hillary Clinton

Poll after poll has shown that people just don't like Hillary very much; in fact they really, really don't like her. That would be the kiss of death for a candidate in a normal election year, but this is not a normal election year. Donald Trump's unfavorables are ever worse!

The Republicans, and now the Trumpicans, have been criticizing Hillary and trying to tear her down since she and Bill entered the national political scene. She famously railed about a "vast right-wing conspiracy" that was against her, but she was right — they are out to get her. The odium has only intensified since Hillary left her position as Secretary of State and entered the presidential race. The attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, has been invesigated by no less than 10 congressional committees that issued 13 published reports. Not a single one of them found any evidence for the inflammatory charges leveled against Hillary: a "stand down" order; an intelligence failure; an administrative failure. (See Benghazi Resarch Center, clearly a pro-Hillary site). In the course of those investigations it was uncovered that Hillary's emails as Secretary had come from a private email server in her house in New York, and that became a second cudgel to beat her about the head and shoulders, culminating with a finding by the FBI that she had done nothing illegal, but had been "extremely careless."

It's no wonder that people  think she's shifty and thinks herself exempt from the laws and standards that apply to mere mortals. Kevin McCarthy, who but for a moment of unguarded candor would have become Speaker after John Boehner resigned, bragged that the whole reason for the last Benghazi committee was to bring down Hillary's poll numbers.

To be sure, Hillary hasn't helped herself. Giving one speech after another to financial and other firms for $200,000+ a pop certainly looks bad and was surely stupid, knowing as she must have known, that she would run for president.

Another contributing factor is that Hillary just isn't very good at retail politics, as she has, herself, admitted. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, is a master at working a room, loving an audience, and explaining things in a simple way. Hillary is too much the A+ student who always does her homework but just doesn't have the people skills to get across what she knows in a way that engages an audience. As Obama famously said at the previous Democratic convention, he wanted to make Bill "Secretary of Explaining Stuff."

Then there is the matter of Hillary's demeanor. Faced with a crowd or a TV camera she often hunkers down in a defensive crouch, parsing her words ever so carefully. She has a face that can positively glow with warmth and joy (see picture at top of page), but most of the time she looks tense and guarded or combative. Many of us have the same problem — we have the face we were born with — but hers is not an asset in getting people to warm up to her.

Hillary
Hillary

Hillary has also had a problem with campaign slogans. "Hillary for America" gave way to "I'm with her" which gave way to "Fighting for You" now supplanted by "Stronger Together."

The elephant in the room is that one of her greatest assets as a candidate — former President Bill Clinton — is also one of her greatest liabilities. His inability to restrain himself was on full display when he took the opportunity to go visit Attorney General Lynch in her plane while parked alongside her on the tarmac in Phoenix. Yes, that Loretta Lynch, the one to whom the FBI reports, the FBI that was conducting an investigation into Hillary's emails. That thoughtless schmoozing gave just the opening for Trumpicans and Republicans to claim, when the head of the FBI made his statement absolving Hillary of criminal wrongdoing, that the fix was in. Note that Bill has been notably absent from public view ever since then. Perhaps Hillary has sent him to an uninhabited island in the south Pacific, something she should have done long ago. If you want to run to become the first woman president, you need to stand on your own.

All of that said, what's a body to do? Get to the polls in November to vote for Hillary. The alternative, Donald Trump, is simply unthinkable as President of the United States.  Sane people who care about this country must make sure he does not get anywhere near the White House. Yesterday, in fact, the Washington Post took the extraordinary step of  publishing an editorial making the case that Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy . Amen to that!

Last updated on Jul 23, 2016

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