Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Changing Reasons People Hate Hillary

Michelle Goldberg makes an interesting observation. Many people have hated Hillary since she first emerged on the national scene, but not for consistent reasons:
Over the last two decades, the something that pisses people off has changed. Speaking to Gates, former Republican speechwriter Peggy Noonan described “an air of apple-cheeked certitude” in Clinton that is “political in its nature and grating in its effects.” Noonan saw in Clinton “an implicit insistence throughout her career that hers were the politics of moral decency and therefore those who opposed her politics were obviously of a lower moral order.”

Noonan’s view was a common one. Take, for example, Michael Kelly’s 1993 New York Times Magazine profile, mockingly titled “Saint Hillary.” “Since she discovered, at the age of 14, that for people less fortunate than herself the world could be very cruel, Hillary Rodham Clinton has harbored an ambition so large that it can scarcely be grasped,” Kelly wrote. “She would like to make things right. She is 45 now and she knows that the earnest idealisms of a child of the 1960s may strike some people as naive or trite or grandiose. But she holds to them without any apparent sense of irony or inadequacy.” Kelly’s piece painted Clinton as a moralist, a meddler, a prig.

Few people dislike Hillary Clinton for being too moralistic anymore. In trying to understand the seemingly eternal phenomenon of Hillary hatred, I’ve spoken to people all around America who revile her. I’ve interviewed Trump supporters, conventional conservatives, Bernie Sanders fans, and even a few people who reluctantly voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary but who nevertheless say they can’t stand her. Most of them described a venal cynic. Strikingly, the reasons people commonly give for hating Clinton now are almost the exact opposite of the reasons people gave for hating her in the 1990s. Back then, she was a self-righteous ideologue; now she’s a corrupt tool of the establishment. Back then, she was too rigid; now she’s too flexible. Recently, Morning Consult polled people who don’t like Clinton about the reasons for their distaste. Eighty-four percent agreed with the statement “She changes her positions when it’s politically convenient.” Eighty-two percent consider her “corrupt.” Motives for loathing Clinton have evolved. But the loathing itself has remained constant.
What are we to make of this? Is it that something about Hillary sets people off at an instinctive level, and they then search for any coherent justification? Or is it, as she would have it, that her enemies have been savaging her for decades, for political reasons, creating a bad reputation?

14 comments:

pithom said...

Hillary 1992 is not the same person as Hillary 2016. That's the obvious conclusion. Remember the transformation of Howard Dean?

G. Verloren said...

I'm not certain we can really say why people dislike Hilary - just that the glaring inconsistencies suggest that their negative feelings aren't based heavily in facts.

If you ask people why they hate Trump, they can give you a laundry list of reasons that all check out against the facts of reality, and that remain consistent. They can readily point to specific things he's said and done openly.

But if you ask people why they hate Trump, a lot of the time they just list off things they heard about on talk radio or Fox News, but which they either actually know nothing about, or which they woefully misunderstand.

Why do they feel Clinton is corrupt? Because something about an email server! Nevermind that after exhaustive attempts to find any wrongdoing whatsoever, absolutely none could be found - she still is corrupt somehow, and she still got American soldiers killed somehow, even if the Senate and the FBI and everyone else with actual knowledge of the subject says she didn't actually, the American people somehow -know- better! They can -feel- it!

Sometimes, people do actually have more direct reasons for disliking Clinton. In particular, many people from poor manufacturing communities feel that her husband signing off on NAFTA destroyed their livelihoods as American factories closed down and we started buying more manufactured goods from Mexico instead.

Of course, nevermind that the primary architect of NAFTA was actually Reagan, and Clinton just inherited his work; nevermind that even if NAFTA never happened, American manufacturing still would have collapsed all the same; nevermind that even if we never bought a single Mexican product, that would only mean we'd be importing even more from countries like China; and nevermind that the agreement ended up being a net positive for everyone involved. These communities don't care about any of that, because they so badly resent the decline of their own local fortunes.

And this is why Trump is going around saying he wants to magically open new American steel mills, despite it being completely economically unviable. This is why he's calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers, despite the increasing growth of Latin American culture in the United States. This is why he wants to wall off Mexico, despite people who actually live in border communities overwhelmingly objecting to such a notion.

He's trying to appeal to the disgruntled people who have fallen between the cracks of societal progress, and who have legitimately suffered for the sake of the rest of the country. It reminds me of the Highland Clearances, and the anger and resentment that many Scots felt as their traditional ways of life crumbled around them in the wake of technological advancements. Even if the changes were ultimately a net positive for the nation, and even if they were ultimately inevitable anyway, that still doesn't change the fact of the suffering that went along with them, and the resentment that suffering fomented for generations to come.

To be bluntly honest, probably the biggest failing of modern society and economics is that it doesn't do enough to account for and render aid to those who fall between the cracks. Transitioning to different ways of doing things, and altering the structure of communities and economies on sometimes fundamental levels is often absolutely vital to our overall wellbeing - but we could be doing so much more to ease those who are hurt most by the transition, and we don't.

And that's the segment of society Trump is courting. The people who want their old steel mill jobs back, and their old automotive factory jobs back, and their old coal mine jobs back, and for the clock to be magically, impossibly wound back - for America to be made "great" again. It isn't possible, of course, but an egomaniacal swindler is devoting a lot of resources toward telling them it is, and they want it to be possible so badly that they are willing to ignore facts and reality, and cling to desperate feelings.

pithom said...

Verloren, if you're so hopelessly ignorant as to the Clintons' corruption -Goldman Sachs speeches, the flip-flop on the bankruptcy bill, the Clinton Foundation -that's your problem. Trump didn't donate to her for nothing!

BTW, Romney was YUGEly corrupt, which is why I despised him.

There's a new movie out precisely on the Clintons' corruption:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td2pyyCau30

"It isn't possible, of course"

-You don't get to decide what's possible in America.

Where does America's heroin come from? It ain't Canada.

David said...

Actually, the conclusion that the essayist seems to be drawing, and the one that seems obvious to me, is that there's "something about Hillary" that people dislike that transcends the specifics that people cite.

I've been wondering lately if what people dislike about her is that she's such an obvious striver. She's the earnest, studious girl at the side of the class who's going places, which means she regards the place you're in with her as Not Good Enough (to echo a previous bensozia thread). She watches our student antics, but they don't touch her, because she's Going Places. Others may fear that she's too preoccupied with her own angst and ambition to give them much consideration. Some of this is gendered, but I think people often feel the same way about men who are strivers. They cut at our American, honor-focused, I'm-as-good-as-you egalitarianism, which is in tension with our simultaneous opportunity ethos. They think they are better than us. It's like a male senior doctor who makes it clear after ten minutes that you're taking time from his other appointments.

I would stress this is something I'm thinking observers will project onto her; whether it has much to do with how she really is would be irrelevant. Based on an earlier essay John cited here, she treats others, especially voters and underlings, with personal consideration and respect, and our problems do seem to touch her. But when they do, we project onto her the image of a striver who's faking it, so they can get to the next appointment.

G. Verloren said...

I had a typo in my prior post - wasn't thinking and wrote Reagan instead of Bush.

G. Verloren said...

@pithom

Your complaints are that a famous politician got paid to deliver corporate speeches, changed their mind on a piece of legislature, and is involved in a large scale non-profit philanthropy organization?

What about any of that is objectionable, or even remotely unusual or noteworthy? This is bog standard politician behavior.

Moreover, if this is somehow evidence of corruption, how is Trump anything other than even more corrupt? He's frequently been paid exorbitant fees to speak and make apperances, he's changed his mind on countless political topics, and he's directly involved in a huge for-profit ventures that don't have a shred of philanthropy to be found.

You think Clinton receiving money from Goldman-Sachs makes her some kind of corporate puppet? Then what the hell is Trump, whose finances since 2014 have been coming directly from the Russian oligarchy surrounding Putin?

You think Clinton changing her mind on a bankruptcy bill (which was substantially altered between the first version which failed in 2001 and the second version which passed in 2005) is indicative of self serving private motivations? Then what the hell do you make of Trump, who not only has completely changed his stance on dozens of issues over the years and who can't even avoid directly contradicting himself on a day to day basis in the present, but who has also personally gone bankrupt and been bailed out by the government at least four times?

You think the philanthropic Clinton Foundation is some sort of scandalously corrupt money funneling organization? Then what does that make all of Trump's openly profit-motived (and ultimately failed) ventures - many of which, like the infamous Trump University, were clearly predatory and directly exploitative of innocent people?

Whatever Clinton's failings, she has never been found to have engaged in any real wrongdoing - not by the FBI, not by the Senate, not by anyone. If you still contend that she is somehow corrupt, then you must also contend that Trump is not just equally corrupt, but even moreso - on top of also being ignorant, delusional, xenophobic, sexist, egotistical, and incompetant. Favoring Trump over Clinton on grounds of corruption is like favoring a prostitute over a flirt on grounds of lacking chastity.

pootrsox said...

David, I think you're on to something rather profound there. It's about the only thing that makes sense.

Mr/Ms Verloren, Bravo/a on your response to pithom.

I've actually found myself liking Clinton more recently -- I suspect it may be a combination of being more settled into retirement (i.e., no longer any sort of striver myself) and actually reading more in depth about her. Not to add, I've always pulled for the underdog, and in terms of people's perceptions of Clinton, she absolutely is the underdog. (See as simply one example, how the same behaviors in Sanders and Clinton are described in positive adjectives for him and negative for her.)

And in terms of qualities and qualifications *for the job,* no one who ran in 2016 can touch her. Sometimes it's healthy to metaphorically hold one's nose and vote for the person best able to do the job.

(Local analogy: woman in town whose politics in general make my flesh crawl, from birtherism to "that sperm touched that egg, it's a baby!" to... well you know the drill. However, I have voted for her twice now for town council member-- because when it comes to our little 1400 person town, she's absolutely on target about what we need to do and how we should go about doing it.)

Shadow Flutter said...

"Has never been found to have engaged in any real wrongdoing" is a stretch. The decision by the FBI looked more like prosecutorial discretion than a clear statement of no legal wrongdoing (gross negligence). Comey said no prosecutor would bring charges, and I believe he believes that. But he also listed the gross negligence and the lies, and not all wrongdoing is illegal.

I'm glad the FBI made the decision they made, because I've always thought the investigation distracted from the real issue: a violation of public trust and public ethics, and an exquisite example of the double standard, the very thing many who support Hilary complain the loudest about when it comes to the influential, the powerful, and the 1%.

So now the whole matter is back where it belongs, in front of the voter. Who better to decide how important this is? One concern I have is that electing Hillary is tacit acceptance of her behavior, and she will continue doing the same or similar in the White House. Of course the voter must always consider the alternative. :-)

Wouldn't it be interesting if Wikileaks leaked controversial emails from her server sometime between now and election day?

pithom said...

"You think Clinton receiving money from Goldman-Sachs makes her some kind of corporate puppet? Then what the hell is Trump, whose finances since 2014 have been coming directly from the Russian oligarchy surrounding Putin?"

-I trust the President of my birth country 100x more than I do the people in Goldman Sachs paying Her. Putin liking Trump is a great credit to Trump -it shows a leader widely respected in his own strong and populous country thinks Trump responsible enough to handle America's military for Russia's benefit, which is, in all current cases, the benefit of the entire world.

Trump has never been "bailed out by the government".

"This is bog standard politician behavior."

-So you have no problem with corruption? For establishment politicians, yes, that is standard behavior. And do you realize, Verloren, that I hate the Establishment precisely for its corruption?

"Then what does that make all of Trump's openly profit-motived (and ultimately failed) ventures - many of which, like the infamous Trump University, were clearly predatory and directly exploitative of innocent people?"

-Trump is a huckster. But he's a huckster on his own terms, not those of others. He is his own man. His hucksterism today is in almost every way superior to Establishment idiocy.

David, your evidence-free speculation is entirely wrong. People don't like Her because her life history is filled with corruption, deceit, and both Social Gospel Methodist moralism and selling out to the great firms of Manhattan.

"Then what the hell do you make of Trump, who not only has completely changed his stance on dozens of issues over the years and who can't even avoid directly contradicting himself on a day to day basis in the present"

-Trump changes his mind frequently, but almost always independently. Clinton, when she changes her mind, always changes it on the terms of others. Clinton is a tool. Trump is an actor. That's a big reason for why I support Trump over Clinton.

"Not to add, I've always pulled for the underdog, and in terms of people's perceptions of Clinton, she absolutely is the underdog"

-So shouldn't you have liked Trump even more back when he was lagging in the polls?

@Shadow Flutter

-Thanks for the backup.

Hillary is incompetent. If she can't even be competent with something as basic as an email server, she certainly can't be competent with nuclear weapons.

I despise the Democrats' pandering to illegal immigrants, and so does my immigrant father (a Sanders supporter who plans to reluctantly vote for Her due to his dislike of Trump's character). The illegals must be deported. Trump and Pence is not just the best, but the only pair to do that.

Trump's instincts are infinitely better than Clinton's in most respects.

Let's Make America Great Again.

Trump/Pence 2016!

John said...

Actually I have very little problem with political corruption. I don't like it, but it is not among the things I worry a lot about. I point out all the time that the most financially corrupt politician of my lifetime was Lyndon Johnson, who was also the one who did the most for poor people.

The real problem with American politics is not corruption but bad ideas. Despite what some liberals think, Bush did not invade Iraq for oil. He invaded Iraq because he was captured by the fantasy of revolutionizing the Middle East with one bold stroke. With that one act he did far more damage to the world than any American leader has ever done for money.

I hate the bankruptcy bill, too, and I wish Hillary had voted against it. But she and some other moderate Democrats went into negotiations with the Bush administration and did get changes in the bill and then, having negotiated in good faith, felt like they had to vote for it. I don't think being paid money had anything to do with it.

Bernie Sanders sometimes seems to think nobody supports low taxes or pro-corporate politics unless he has been bribed to do so, and that is flatly untrue. Many people are conservative even when it goes against their own financial interests. It is those bad ideas that mess up the country, not the Koch brothers.

It's not that I don't think American politics are at a certain level corrupt. I just think that has little to do with what's wrong with our country. What really ails the country is what Trump has made the centerpiece of his campaign: racist nationalism.

John said...

Oh, and whatever reason is that people dislike Hillary, it can't really be corruption, because many more corrupt figures have been very popular. Many people find Bill Clinton more likable than his wife, even though he is more corrupt and also sexually sleazy.

Shadow Flutter said...

Bush's inner circle thought they could change reality to their liking. One of them said that I think. They were worse than wrong; they were half right. They changed reality; they just couldn't change it into the reality they wanted.

pithom said...

"I point out all the time that the most financially corrupt politician of my lifetime was Lyndon Johnson, who was also the one who did the most for poor people."

-Lyndon Johnson is my least favorite president. Medicare. Civil Rights Act. Great Society. Failure in Vietnam. I don't think drafting poor people into the military to die in an ultimately fruitless war did any help for them.

"The real problem with American politics is not corruption but bad ideas."

-I'm convinced at present that bad ideas in politics are mostly the product of corruption. Of course, it's not to say bad ideas not born out of corruption would be any better.

"Despite what some liberals think, Bush did not invade Iraq for oil."

-I think he did. Think about it; if Iraq had no oil, would it ever have been a target of U.S. invasion?

"Many people are conservative even when it goes against their own financial interests."

-Sure. But very few of these people are in Congress.

"What really ails the country is what Trump has made the centerpiece of his campaign: racist nationalism."

-LOL. That's exactly the absence of which is the problem in the United States. If Americans at last understood Black problems are almost entirely those of the making of Black people (same for Mexican problems, etc.), they might end the cloud of stupidity on matters of race that has hung over the American people ever since Brown v. Board. And look at the Democratic convention: a paen to Mexican imperialism over the United States and Black supremacy over Whites. I'm not a fan of either.

"Many people find Bill Clinton more likable than his wife, even though he is more corrupt and also sexually sleazy."

-The vaguely Jacksonesque rags-to-riches story is a big component of Slick Willie's likeability.

David said...

@pithom, I really don't think there could ever be anything between such as you and such as me but hate and war. Perhaps it really is time to break the country apart. I for one wouldn't want to live in a nation where people like you got anything they wanted.

Sorry, John, I judge him.