One Defining Trait Helps Explain Clinton

She's a listener, writes Ezra Klein at Vox
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2016 12:59 PM CDT
One Defining Trait Helps Explain Clinton
Hillary Clinton speaks at the African Methodist Episcopal church national convention in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Ezra Klein at Vox writes that he's been puzzled by something about Hillary Clinton for years: Those with whom she works closely express an extraordinary admiration for her, both personally and professionally, that is rare in DC. At the same time, the general public doesn't seem to like or trust her all that much. In a deep dive to explore this "Gap," Klein interviewed dozens of people who have known her for years and began with the same question: "What is true about the Hillary Clinton you’ve worked with that doesn’t come through on the campaign trail?" He kept getting the same answer, so much so that the responses "startled me in their consistency," writes Klein. "Hillary Clinton, they said over and over again, listens." If you must pause to roll your eyes, Klein acknowledges that he pretty much did the same, at least the first few times he heard the answer. After about the 15th time, though, it began to sink in and make sense to him.

"Presidential campaigns are built to showcase the stereotypically male trait of standing in front of a room speaking confidently—and in ways that are pretty deep, that’s what we expect out of our presidential candidates," writes Klein. Clinton, on the other hand, built her campaign on "deep relationships." Contrast her wealth of Senate endorsements with those of Sanders, the better orator. Instead of praise for racking them up, however, she caught flak for being an establishment figure. "Thus was her core political strength reframed as a weakness." And "here’s the thing about the particular skills Clinton used to capture the Democratic nomination: They are very, very relevant to the work of governing. And they are particularly relevant to the way Clinton governs." Read Klein's full analysis. Or check out this reaction at MinnPost, which generally lauds the piece as insightful but suggests that Klein stretches the point too far in explaining Clinton's Iraq War vote. (More Hillary Clinton stories.)

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