The other day, Bill Clinton blamed the press for his wife’s recent political troubles. But most of the fault is her own — for talking to the press.
She’s not good at it.
Asked to define herself in three words, Clinton provided 61. “Just three?” she asked, roaring with fake laughter. “I can’t possibly do that!” This must have been one of those hard choices that her last book was about.
The question shouldn’t have stumped her. Clinton has defined herself in three words before. In 1992, for instance, she said, “I am me.” And that’s her problem.
She never misses an opportunity to play the “I’m human” card.
“I mean, look, I am a real person,” she chuckled maladroitly on Face the Nation, helpfully adding, “Real people actually go shopping, you know?”
Yes we do.
As a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2000, Clinton elaborated on her experience as a human by cataloguing all the banal things she had done in her life:
I’ve been the harried, pressured working mom. I’ve been the concerned, anguished parent about everything from ballet recitals to school curriculum. I’ve lived through the death of one of my parents and my mother-in-law. I have all the experiences that women today face.
I went grocery shopping for the first time in years the other day.
What do you do with those groceries?
I make a mean tossed salad and a great omelet.
And how did you get to the grocery store?
Before the White House, even though we lived in the governor’s mansion, I drove my own car most of the time.
You know, just like other women with cars and governor’s mansions.
In addition to being a real human woman person, Clinton is a bona fide politician — indeed, almost a caricature of one: calculated, pandering, and dishonest. And those are her best qualities. Worst of all, she’s dull.
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Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has tried so diligently to rid herself of negative attributes that she has rid herself of all discernible human attributes. Which is why, instead of acting like a normal person, she keeps saying she’s a normal person, which is abnormal. And when she acts like a normal person, it’s obvious she’s acting. She can laugh, but only after one of her aides presses a button.
This presidential campaign is largely a contest of personalities, and it is one for which Clinton is both underqualified and overprepared.Her fake laughter on Face the Nation was all part of her master plan, it turns out. A few weeks ago, the New York Times reported that Clinton’s campaign was initiating “new efforts to bring spontaneity” to her candidacy. However, the efforts are not new. “Mrs. Clinton Works Hard on Her Spontaneity,” proclaimed a headline in the New York Times — in 2000.
Rather than giving interviews on the three major networks, Clinton should start giving them on QVC, the Cooking Channel, and Comedy Central. If nothing else, she will make potheads laugh and thereby, if she’s lucky, deprive Bernie Sanders of his main base of support.
— Windsor Mann is the editor of The Quotable Hitchens: From Alcohol to Zionism.