There is nothing so excruciating as watching Hillary Clinton pretend to be candid — unless it is watching her pretend to be candid as part of some heavy-handed damage control. On Friday, after a gaffe-filled week in which she stumbled in interview after interview, there was this appearance in an interview with a woman who bills herself as a close friend, senior adviser and former speech writer for Clinton:
While interviewing Clinton about her new book on C-SPAN, Lissa Muscatine remarked, “You’ve never been shy about your opinions, but it does seem to me that you are pretty free to speak your mind these days.”
Although Clinton mused that it might be due to the “wonderful wealth of experience” she’s now had, it also might be because “being really careful about what to say because somebody might think this instead of that, it just gets too exhausting and frustrating. And it just seems a whole lot easier to just put it out there and hope people get used to it.”
“You know,” Clinton admitted, “there are occasions when I think people gulp a little, including myself, to be fair. But I really want to share the experiences that I’ve had.”
“It feels a little bit liberating, to be honest,” she said.
Totally. Oh puhleez.
It wasn’t merely that Clinton was faking it, but that she had to be fed the exact line by a trusted friend and former aide (one who that very morning was on radio spinning like a top for her former boss).
Where had she been candid, revealing and daring? Unless one is attempting to claim a millionaire whining about being “broke” should be praised for candor (I think that’s what the Hillaryland team was pushing) there was nothing of the sort last week. In fact she was widely and deservedly criticized for displaying the telltale Clinton caution. And her book is over 600 pages? Not a single shocker, controversial statement or daring policy insight. There are some out and out misrepresentations, but not much candor. As Maureen Dowd put it, “Hillary’s new memoir, like her last one, is a testament to caution and calculation. It doesn’t feel written so much as assembled by a ‘Hillary for President’ algorithm. All this excitement is being ginned up, but nothing exciting is happening. There isn’t one surprising or scintillating or provocative word in the whole book.”
Like her phony laugh when under pressure, her faux “liberation” reminds us that she is not a natural, or very effective, politician. To be a great pol like her husband or Ronald Reagan, you either have to have the common touch and great people skills — or be really good at faking it. She is neither, and if the week is any guide she doesn’t have anyone in her inner circle willing to tell her so. It is not merely as Dowd suggests, “how scarred and defensive she is, given all the fights and rough times she has gone through, and how that affects her judgment now”; it is whether she is sufficiently likeable and relatable to win the presidency.