"Calculating, clenched, relentless--and a little robotic."
(Cross-posted on AmbivaBlog.)
Jacob Weisberg in Slate:
Sen.[Hillary] Clinton's political positioning couldn't be better for 2008. Despite being a shrewdly triangulating centrist on the model of her husband, she remains wildly popular with the party's liberal core: It seems to share the right's erroneous view of her as a closet lefty and draws closer to her with every inane conservative attack. There's no other possible candidate in either party so well poised to claim the center without losing the base.So why couldn't she win?
In Weisberg's view, it's not how much conservatives hate her. It's not that Bill is a liability (he's at least as much of an asset). It's not misogyny.
It's that people just plain don't like her.
Plainly put, it's her personality. . . . As hard as she tries, Hillary has little facility for connecting with ordinary folk, for making them feel that she understands, identifies, and is at some level one of them. You may admire and respect her. But it's hard not to find Hillary a bit inhuman. Whatever she may be like in private, her public persona is calculating, clenched, relentless—and a little robotic. . . .Someone I know is having buttons made that say "Obama: Accept No Substitutes." But it's too early for that, isn't it? Not for a black president, I mean -- just too early for Obama, who's relatively young and untried in national politics. Jack Kennedy had been in the Senate far longer, and in Congress before that.
[A] case can be made that the first woman who gets elected president will need to, as Hillary does, radiate more toughness than warmth. But in American elections, affection matters. Democrats lost in 2000 and 2004 with candidates Main Street regarded as elitist and aloof, to a candidate voters related to personally. Hillary isn't as obnoxious as Gore or as off-putting as Kerry. But she's got the same damn problem, and it can't be fixed.
Maybe we'll have Condi Rice as our next president, and that'll break two barriers in one. By the way, Ann Althouse quoted the transcript of a Washington Times interview with Rice back in March of this year. You may not have known this: her positions on social issues are genuinely centrist, with a libertarian tinge. On abortion, for instance, she favors parental notification, but believes the government should stay out of the private decisions of adults.