Why do people hate Hillary? Let me count the ways …

hillary

Writing at The New York Times, David Brooks poses an interesting question: Why is Hillary Clinton so unpopular?

Here’s his oddly bloodless summation:

“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.”

That answer is less than satisfying, at least to me. It doesn’t begin to account for the fact that at the mere mention of her name, grown men and women recoil in horror. It doesn’t explain why in so many minds, she is the embodiment of political evil, and why many Republicans who know full well how disastrous Donald Trump would be as president nonetheless embrace him over a woman who throughout her career has been painfully mainstream.

So here are my own top five reasons for that hatred:

1.) To the degree that there’s truth in Brooks’ analysis, he refuses to mine it. He fails to acknowledge that his description of Clinton as an all-out striver with little visible private life could be applied to many if not most of our top politicians and businessmen, yet somehow they don’t inspire the visceral reaction that Clinton provokes. He chooses not to explore how the single-minded ambition considered natural in any alpha male seeking power becomes “Machiavellian, crafty, power-oriented, untrustworthy” when displayed by a woman.

That double-standard has haunted Clinton since her earliest days in the national spotlight, when she made clear that as First Lady she saw her role as more than just baking cookies and having teas.¹ It’s hard to imagine in 2016 how shocked and offended certain people claimed to be when Clinton initially made that remark back in 1992, but even now the resentment hasn’t gone away.

2.) Speaking of 1992, no currently active American political figure has been in the national spotlight for as long as Clinton. Over a quarter century, you take a lot of shots and criticism, both fair and unfair.  You make a lot of enemies. The many alleged “scandals” targeting Clinton over that time frame, from TravelGate and Vince Foster’s “murder” to Benghazi, have also had a cumulative effect on her reputation even though none has ever proved to have a basis in fact. Even people who understand that those scandals have been overblown have by now developed a knee-jerk response to having to hear still more about them.

3.) Inevitably, I think, that long list of alleged scandals has had an impact on Clinton’s psyche as well. She has never been as comfortable with the demands of public life as her husband, and the sense of always being under assault for so long has compounded her natural caution, leading her to come across as excessively defensive.  The clear mistake that she made in setting up her own independent email system outside government channels can probably be attributed at least in part to that caution that borders at times on paranoia. Try as she might to project openness and vulnerability, she doesn’t really dare to do so, and the resulting insincerity compounds her problem.

4.) Nonetheless, her ability to absorb the worst that her enemies can throw at her and stay in the fight has been impressive to her allies and absolutely maddening to her critics. In their eyes, she is a political Rasputin, able to accept blow after blow while still standing upright, and it enrages them. Even the spectacle of Bill Clinton’s serial infidelities didn’t knock her off her stride for long, and somehow they managed to keep their marriage intact.

More recently, the 12 hours of televised testimony over the Benghazi tragedy epitomized that aspect of her public career.  One after the other, Republican congressmen got their chance to attack, question, belittle and rhetorically attack Clinton, and in each and every case she emerged unscathed and smiling. By the end of that long day, it was as if her questioners, not she, had been put on trial and found wanting, and they knew it. They hate her in much the same way that Wile E. Coyote hates the Roadrunner.

5.) The modern conservative movement is deeply reliant on its political entertainment arm, and talk radio, Astroturf fundraising groups and far-right websites in turn require a villain to star in their oversimplified narratives of good and evil. It is something straight out of Orwell’s “1984” and its “Two Minutes of Hate,” with the make-believe villain Emmanuel Goldstein serving to unite the public against a common foe. Bill Clinton served as that villain during his presidency, as of course has Barack Obama. In the interregnum between the two presidents, Nancy Pelosi was drafted to play the part of Goldstein. But through it all, Hillary has been the constant, the go-to symbol of all that they agree to despise. Even the specter of a President Trump isn’t enough to undo a quarter-century of behavioral programming.

 

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¹The remark in full:

“I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies and had teas. I chose to fulfill my profession (as a lawyer, which I had before my husband was in public life. The work that I have done as a professional, a public advocate, has been aimed … to assure that women can make the choices, whether it’s full-time career, full-time motherhood or some combination.”

Reader Comments 1

1138 comments
Rocky P
Rocky P

How could Hillary honor the family of criminals in the DNC and not say one word about those officers who put their life in risk to serve the public, totally unacceptable. She lie over and over. If me or you use an unsecured email server, it is fine, because we are nobody sending bs emails. But if you were the Secretary of State, sending classified emails, that's is a big NO NO. If you ask what is the big deal of that, you have a big problem, that is like your wife listed your social security number, credit card number, all your info...etc. on facebook. If Donald Trump did that, I think he would be automatically disqualified!

Jeremy Parks
Jeremy Parks

She is a vile, evil force of nature. She oozes evil and only a small mind cannot see it.

r@lph
r@lph

People should ask themselves (and be honest about that) to what extent she is being scrutinized where male contenders would have gotten a pass...

wanderlost
wanderlost

thank you for this. I think you have well captured the nuances behind this overtly emotional visciousness against Hillary Clinton.  As an enthusiastic, optimistic but  a bit naive white female in a male dominated profession (long-standing scientific researcher and more recently, executive within a large corporation) I have readily shrugged off claims of a double standard. However, I have been long and increasingly puzzled over the bitter spoken and written vehemence that seems to come almost exclusively from middle aged white males against what seems to be a smart, articulate, strong, caring and highly qualified female politician and candidate that she represents. 


I think Madelaine Albright could also be categorized by these same attributes, yet she was far less villanized by this narrow pool of men - seemingly because she was in a many-times less competitive position/race and much more of a "motherly" figure to US citizens.  - which I can guess was less of a threat to this pool of male voters. 


I suspect there will never be admittance and minimal consciousness of this bias during the time Ms Clinton remains a working politician. However, the fact that it is becoming increasingly obvious even to  deny-ers like me, will, I hope, help accelerate recognition and correction of this additive unfounded and unfair bias. 

Michael Shadrick
Michael Shadrick

I don't hate her, just despise her and what she represents.

Essar
Essar

So you "just" despise her.


No need for a reason.  JUST because you want to.


Hallelujah!

Stewart Day
Stewart Day

My five, She has lied repeatedly to the public for years over scandals she created. 2. She used influence and deceit to cover her poor judgements and decisions. 3. She surrounds herself with questionable people, like Bill clinton, Sidney Blumenthal who literally do her dirty work. or questionable actions she is aware of 4. Her strategies are clear, use politics to increase her own power and wealth as her ideology for government service. 5. She believes like Nixon and many politicians she is elite and above the laws of the land, therefore it does not matter what her behavior is or the consequences of her decisions..

Stan Stewart
Stan Stewart

Stewart, you can say the same thing for Donald Trump's fabrications. In my opinion, neither is worthy to be the next President.

Summer Smith
Summer Smith

For Anyone who believes Hillary is a good and decent person---Flash---The Devil has got you baby!!

John Jones
John Jones

She's not the one spreading hate

Kim Stewart
Kim Stewart

Haters gonna hate, hate hate. I pity you.

Laura Evans Majors
Laura Evans Majors

The hate has been drummed up by the media and Berniebros. I guarantee you that there's thousands of us out here who are voting for her if she gets the nomination, but are sick and tired of BBs constantly haranguing us with speeches about how she is the devil. In this our country, to put a Hillary sticker on our cars invites harassment, gunfire and road rage incidents by those morons out there who don't believe in Democracy. We don't feel the need to validate our opinions in public to anyone. We simply don't talk about it with anyone anymore. We are the Silent Majority. She isn't terrible. Blather on about her supposed evilness, we know better. Thanks for trying, now go away. Here's one story of dozens. She's fundamentally honest, unlike "Say whatever the crowd wants to hear whether it's true or not Trumpkin". http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/28/hillary-clinton-honest-transparency-jill-abramson And Bengazi charges? They're all lies. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-benghazi-investigation_us_561ef9eae4b0c5a1ce62037e

Justin Creeley
Justin Creeley

Haha you're an idiot if you think she's honest. If you agree with her that's one thing but clearly she has been proven dishonest.

Michael Shadrick
Michael Shadrick

I hope the scales will fall from your eyes & you will see her as she truly is. A 2 faced phony.

Bob Hunt
Bob Hunt

Laura, what are 3 of her greatest accomplishments?

Laura Evans Majors
Laura Evans Majors

Name calling is so high school. Unless you have something adult to say, please stfu. For the rest of you, this is why we're voting for her by the hundreds of thousands - unpolled, undiscussed, and quietly.

medaisies
medaisies

And since when are politicians honest? Seriously everyone is holding her at such unbelievably higher standards than every other politician (ahem, men), it's getting annoying. ps. Politifact.com is a good checking point to see where candidates really stand on their lies. Compare Obama and Clinton.

Suzanne Cook
Suzanne Cook

She helped poor children health coverage, helped raise $21 million for world trade center...and helped get health coverage for 9/11 responders.

crs52
crs52

It has never been "proven" that she's dishonest- at least no more than any other human being- and it certainly hasn't been for lack of trying. Smear from political enemies and the rantings of internet crackpot sites are not evidence. YOU are the idiot if you think that it is.

Scott Shockley
Scott Shockley

You don't need five. She's a terrible person. That's it.

Scott Shockley
Scott Shockley

I can't blame you, it's a pick your poison deal. I'm not a big fan of Trump, and I don't believe in the socialist ideology in any form, so, I have no skin in this race. I just can't support Hillary knowing how she behaves behind the scenes, and how she treats people. I realize that is very generic, and doesn't sell, but out of respect for the position I held, and the people who hold it now, I keep the details of my time private. I wish a better choice would show up for us, unfortunately, it looks like we're all burdened to know our best choice is more than likely a bad one. Oh well, life goes on. Good luck to you boss. Have a good one.

Travass Strickland
Travass Strickland

I'm not a die hard Hillary supporter. But, given the field, I'm probably going to vote for her. I said that just to let you know I'm not trolling you...but, I am really curious about your personal experience. Did you spend a significant amount of time with her?

Suzanne Cook
Suzanne Cook

She's not....but they have been against her since Bill was Prez....they don't like her because/  she's a woman and will be our President. Just like they hated Obama because he is black.

Travass Strickland
Travass Strickland

I read the article with honest curiosity. I don't understand why people hate her so much, and/or think she's a terrible person. Why do you think she's a terrible person?

Scott Shockley
Scott Shockley

My personal opinion of her is not based on politics, policies, her previous actions, choices, or public persona. It's personal experience. As politely as I can express it, she is an incredibly unpleasant difficult person to be around.

atomdotgirl
atomdotgirl

Fortunately we can just leapfrog over the trollish remnants of the past and follow Bernie Sanders in refreshing our democracy with informed and active involvement.

Doug Taylor
Doug Taylor

In response, point by point: 1. Bookman fails to account for the disgust so many people have with the entire establishment as it is, and instead claims that Clinton receives different treatment from that establishment because of her gender. This is untrue. Those politicians and businessmen he compares her with receive equal contempt. Bookman then mentions her "single-minded ambition" is only considered "Machiavellian" when it is possessed by a woman. Again, untrue. Many of those who do not like her, also view men who hold similar positions (those politicians and businessmen he referred to) as Machiavellian, crafty, power-oriented and untrustworthy as well. Dismissing all anti-Clinton sentiments as "sexist" (which is the entire point he's making here) is ridiculous and sexist itself. Especially when so many of the anti-Clinton people would jump at the chance of having Warren as POTUS. 2. It is amusing to watch him try to gloss over the many scandals she has been involved in as if there were all arbitrarily made up and have no basis in fact. Travelgate happened. Employees of the travel office were arbitrarily fired and a firm with ties to the Clintons took over travel. This decision was later forcibly overturned and, while president Clinton was absolved of wrongdoing, Hillary was found to have made false statements to investigators. Then there was Whitewater, Filegate, etc. I won't claim all scandals are true, but there is truth in many of them and frankly, I can't think of a single other politician who has more scandals surrounding him or her. That isn't just a dedicated smear campaign used by political foes, or we'd see much more of this against other politicians. Where there's smoke, there's bound to be at least some fire. 3. It is laughable to try to claim Hillary has never been comfortable with the demands of public life. SHE is the one who has been putting herself out in public life. If she weren't comfortable with it, she'd not have been a Senator, or a secretary of state, or a presidential candidate (again and again). On the contrary, she seems to enjoy the public life, to thrive on it. Sure, she may not like the public being able to actually SEE her life, rather than just hear about it from prepared press statements, but such is to be expected for any public personage. I must also profess amusement at Bookman's defense of her decision to setup a private email server for official business as due to her "caution that borders at times on paranoia", due to the unwanted publicness of her life. That is utter B.S. She is smart, and she has been in politics long enough to know that official government business must be handled on official government channels. The use of a private server screams of her wanting to hide from accountability. There is simply no other reason for it. 4. Ah, her ability to absorb the worst her enemies can throw at her. Well, that's a bit of a stretch too, considering that she was the one doing the throwing right from the start. It is extremely insincere of her to play the victim whenever someone takes a swing back. Dismissing another candidates defense as merely an 'enraged attack' is the type of Fox-esque dishonesty that makes people distrust media these days. I will gladly admit that she handled herself very well in that silly Benghazi witch trial. She took on every republican in that room and made them look like the arses they are. That is a far cry from how she is behaving now though. Arbitrarily throwing down the "sexist" card whenever someone honestly calls her out on a policy point, launching attack after attack and then, again, playing the "sexist" and "victim" cards whenever someone strikes back. She may have been the Roadrunner in the Benghazi investigation, but here she is that spoiled evil baby that causes a mess, breaks everything, burns down the house, and acts sweet and innocent and blames the fire on the cat every time the mother looks at it . 5. Here Bookman is, for once, spot on. The conservatives don't like Hillary. Of course, the primary reason for that is because they see her as the most likely candidate. If Bernie were outpolling her 90% to 10%, their focus would be completely on him. They've known for over a decade now that Hillary has designs on the White House, which is why they have been attacking her for so long. It isn't because they don't like her...it's because they know her ambitions and want to fight them. Despite his point here, Bookman fails to address the reason non-conservatives don't like her. He's been hinting at those points all along, while trying to distract and defend them. She gives off the appearance of dishonesty. Look at "Super Predators" (not her law, but she still defended it at the time). Look at her stance on marriage equality. Look at her stance on Wall st. Look at her continued refusal to release her speech transcripts, despite the fact that doing so (provided nothing damaging was in them) would not only shut the opposition up, but would deal it a serious blow. There are many reasons people dislike her, and despite the best Fox-esque spinning Mr Bookman can do, he cannot adequately dismiss the dislike as misogynistic or conservative in nature, rather than being a direct result of Clinton's own statements, actions, and history.

William Graham
William Graham

Successful woman on politics for a long time with multi millions spent against her from the right and a communist from the left surfing all those right wing talking points

Les Bouska
Les Bouska

Most hatred, political or otherwise, is irrational. This is no different.

Brent James
Brent James

Our first female in January go Hilliary

Willard Morris
Willard Morris

Don't hate the playa....hate the game. Politics is a dirty sport......

DecaturDramaQueen
DecaturDramaQueen

Strong women like Hillary Clinton drive resentful, conservative males crazy, as anyone scanning the comments on Jay's article can clearly see. All, silly, hateful, ignorant, and likely uneducated and poor men who mostly blame women for their failures. Too bad, boys--she's gonna be president, like it or not. 

Michael Mancini
Michael Mancini

IF you vote for Hillary, I hope you know the answers to these questions? 1. When did Hillary know her husband was a serial abuser, and does she feel guilty for destroying his accusers? 2. Explain precisely the trades made in the Cattle Futures scandal where $1,000 was turned into $99,000 in a matter of weeks? 3. Why didn't she do anything to protect the Americans in Benghazi? 4. Who is Saul Alinsky and why was he her mentor? 5. When she was working on Watergate, why did her boss Zeifman, a lifelong Democrat, call Hillary a “liar” and “an unethical, dishonest lawyer” and have her fired? 6. What really happened with Travelgate? 7. What really happened with the Rose Law Firm? 8. What really happened with WhiteWater? 9. What gave Hillary the right to see private FBI files of her political enemies in FileGate? 10. Why won't she turn over her illegal server with state department e-mails to congress? 11. Why does your foundation accept money from avowed terror states? 12. What is her take on the Vince Foster "Suicide"? 13. Why did she think she was entitled to steal the White House furniture when she left? 14. Why do you lie even about things that mean nothing: lying about being under sniper fire in Bosnia, lying about being named after Sir Edmund Hillary, or lying that your grandparents were immigrants. 15. Should America be concerned that in ChinaGate, the 22 people that were convicted of fraud or for funneling Asian funds into the DNC were associates of Bill Clinton? 16. Did selling stays at the Lincoln Bedroom to political donors make you feel like a wh)o(re? 17. Does Hillary think Juanita Broadrick lied when she said on national news that Bill Clinton raped her? 18. Is she still okay that Bill goes to pedophile island with Jeff Epstein? 19. Why are there so many murdered and suicide people in the Clinton's immediate circle? 20. Doesn't the fact that the Clinton Foundation has to amend 5 years of its tax returns for improper reporting imply that you were involved in an illegal RICO enterprise? 21. Doesn't approving the Russian-owned Uranium One deal as secretary of state--because of illegal contributions to your foundation--in fact make you a traitor to this country? 22. Was it wise to have at least four Clinton Foundation board of directors that have either been convicted or charged of the financial crimes of bribery and fraud? 23. Why, Hillary, did you pay your female senate staffers 72% of what you paid your male staffers? 24. When you represented an accused pedophile rapist, why did you laugh when you got him off even though you believed him to be guilty? 25. She said she had one e-mail address, it came out that she had two; She said she had one device, it came out that she had two: She said none of her e-mails on her private server was classified, but when the State Dept handed over 300 e-mails the FBI redacted large sections of one, proving again she was wrong. Thus, Ms. Clinton, are you incompetent or just a congenital liar?

Amberle Selene
Amberle Selene

Almost everything you said here is false - a simple check on Snopes or PolitiFact can tell you that. You clearly just made up your mind to hate her and cherry-picked every false story to bolster your beliefs. Some of us actually read and do the research. You're not fooling us.

Garrett McCoy
Garrett McCoy

The sad thing is: people that are hurt by her are quiet or dead. Only democrats…

Brandon Taj Hanick
Brandon Taj Hanick

I don't hate anyone, but here are five reasons why I won't vote for Hillary Clinton: 1. Her corporate/Wall St. donors (because 9/11, right?) 2. Her vote to invade Iraq (and unapologetic general hawkishness) 3. The trillions of dollars in weapons sales to foreign countries during her reign as Sec. Of State 4. Her opposition to gay rights until 2013 5. Her support of disastrous welfare "reform" and criminal justice policies that disproportionately harmed people of color Jay, I'm a fan of your writing, but you -- and all Hillary supporters -- just have it wrong.

Les Bouska
Les Bouska

Nope. She's going to be President.

Brandon Taj Hanick
Brandon Taj Hanick

Well-researched argument, Les. Full of thoughtful analysis about Clinton's record and policies. Good job!

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