Why is Hillary Clinton so unpopular?

Hillary Clinton’s net approvals are as bad as Donald Trump’s.

David Brooks at the NY Times tries to understand why it is that Hillary Clinton is so disliked.

I understand why Donald Trump is so unpopular. He earned it the old-fashioned way, by being obnoxious, insulting and offensive. But why is Hillary Clinton so unpopular?

She is, at the moment, just as unpopular as Trump. In the last three major national polls she had unfavorability ratings in the same ballpark as Trump’s. In the Washington Post/ABC News poll, they are both at 57 percent disapproval.

In the New York Times/CBS News poll, 60 percent of respondents said Clinton does not share their values. Sixty-four percent said she is not honest or trustworthy. Clinton has plummeted so completely down to Trump’s level that she is now statistically tied with him in some of the presidential horse race polls.

Hillary Clinton is a beltway insider, one who claims an impoverished background but also someone who gets the help to order her lunch.

There are two paradoxes to her unpopularity. First, she was popular not long ago. As secretary of state she had a 66 percent approval rating. Even as recently as March 2015 her approval rating was at 50 and her disapproval rating was at 39.

It’s only since she launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to impress the American people that she has made herself so strongly disliked.

Her messages are false and they show, therefore giving a disconnect between what people see and what people think.

But what exactly do so many have against her?

I would begin my explanation with this question: Can you tell me what Hillary Clinton does for fun? We know what Obama does for fun — golf, basketball, etc. We know, unfortunately, what Trump does for fun.

But when people talk about Clinton, they tend to talk of her exclusively in professional terms. For example, on Nov. 16, 2015, Peter D. Hart conducted a focus group on Clinton. Nearly every assessment had to do with on-the-job performance. She was “multitask-oriented” or “organized” or “deceptive.”

Clinton’s career appears, from the outside, to be all consuming. Her husband is her co-politician. Her daughter works at the Clinton Foundation. Her friendships appear to have been formed at networking gatherings reserved for the extremely successful.

People who work closely with her adore her and say she is warm and caring. But it’s hard from the outside to think of any non-career or pre-career aspect to her life. Except for a few grandma references, she presents herself as a résumé and policy brief.

Cold is a better word.

Clinton’s unpopularity is akin to the unpopularity of a workaholic. Workaholism is a form of emotional self-estrangement. Workaholics are so consumed by their professional activities that their feelings don’t inform their most fundamental decisions. The professional role comes to dominate the personality and encroaches on the normal intimacies of the soul. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once put it, whole cemeteries could be filled with the sad tombstone: “Born a man, died a doctor.”

At least in her public persona, Clinton gives off an exclusively professional vibe: industrious, calculated, goal-oriented, distrustful. It’s hard from the outside to have a sense of her as a person; she is a role.

This formal, career-oriented persona puts her in direct contrast with the mores of the social media age, which is intimate, personalist, revealing, trusting and vulnerable. It puts her in conflict with most people’s lived experience. Most Americans feel more vivid and alive outside the work experience than within. So of course to many she seems Machiavellian, crafty, power-oriented, untrustworthy.

And when she tries to use social media to get down with the kids it looks and sounds as contrived as her entire life. Like this utterly cringeworthy and rehearsed social media video:

Grannies using the word chillin’ is pathetic.

Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that the Sabbath is “a palace in time which we build.” It’s not a day of rest before work; you work in order to experience this day of elevation. Josef Pieper wrote that leisure is not an activity, it’s an attitude of mind. It’s stepping outside strenuous effort and creating enough stillness so that it becomes possible to contemplate and enjoy things as they are.

Even successful lives need these sanctuaries — in order to be a real person instead of just a productive one. It appears that we don’t really trust candidates who do not show us theirs.

No one would believe her if she even did show us how she relaxes…at the moment it appears to just include chillin’ in Cedar Rapids.

– NY Times


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  • Not Clinically Insane

    She’s a pathological liar and untrustworthy as a result

  • Wheninrome

    Even Helen had outside sporting interests.

  • Seriously?

    Too old. Lets be honest about it. When she tries to make a “personal connection” to voters under 40 it seems stupid.

    She’d be better off not to try. In the end I think most people want to elect the person they think most capable of doing the job. If that person is also someone they like, well that is a bonus (one that sometimes the choices don’t provide).

    • kereru

      Too old? Well that applies even more to Bernie Saunders who is 6 years older than Hillary.

      • Seriously?

        Yes, and Trump as well.

        I think this will be a battle of two people that appeal to a minority, but who are both not liked by the majority. A doubt very much that many Americans would say “Hell, I like em both, but I prefer X”. To me it seems more like a devil and the deep blue sea choice for the middle ground voters.

        • kereru

          Just thankful I don’t have to choose between them. If Trump succeeds it will be a protest vote against the once ‘golden couple’ who could do no wrong. Charm offensives only go so far.

        • kereru

          ‘Yes, and Trump as well.’

          Neck and neck – Trump is a year older. I guess age should bring wisdom and experience, but there’s an awful lot of murky water that’s gone under their bridges, that’s for sure. It looks like Hillary’s is by far the murkier.

          • KatB

            She gives me the impression she sold her soul to the devil a long time ago, no light behind her eyes. I”m hoping with Trump, at least he’ll own his indiscretions. Time will tell I guess.

  • RealKiwi

    Old Dave and rest at the NYT being an insider just does not get it

  • Huia

    I believe more people are waking up and learning just how corrupt and dishonest the Clintons are. She seems unable to tell the truth, lies about everything.
    Named after our Sir Ed……lied, she was born before Sir Ed climbed the mountain.
    Thrown off the Watergate committee for dishonesty and corruption.
    They have both used the Clinton foundation to further their own ends.
    A lot of facts tying them both to laundering drug money.
    People she knows either get hurt or killed if they step out of line.
    Stood there and lied to the families of Embassy staff who were tortured then murdered, through her’s and Obama’s manipulations and inaction.
    Has been part of selling and supplying arms to middle eastern al Qaeda which are now used against their own USA soldiers.
    Lied and Faked a stroke so she wouldn’t have to appear in Court.
    Had unsecured Top Secret information on her Computer, which incidentally the Chinese now have, (funny that), and the Clintons still keep getting richer so you have to wonder why.
    Rumoured to have had an affair which resulted in Chelsea being born. Before her extensive facial cosmetic surgery Chelsea was the spitting image of Hillary’s lover/victim.
    When you start digging a little deeper, which I believe people are now doing, the corruption is deep and wide spread.
    The Clintons bought a new level of low to the White house.

  • The Needler

    Whoever gets to be the next president of the U.S.A will only be there for a single term.

  • Ross15

    Trump is “unpopular” simply because those in the leftie MSM want him to be seen as unpopular and so the image is presented that way. It similar to the headlines this week about JK losing his favour with voters because of the 1.8% drop in the poll for preferred PM , completely ignoring the margin of error.
    Similarly with Clinton –but the opposite from the MSM ( NB. how they call her Hillary). So that fact that she has high levels of negatives actually says a lot –all the MSM support and image making and yet she is still down at the levels of the “enemy”

  • Just me

    She’s unpopular because every action she takes is motivated by self interest. Reminds me a little bit of Helen Clark.

  • old school

    In some part it must be her unbridled craving for power. She is prepared to put anything aside to get there. She turned a blind eye to her husbands unfaithfulness.