Glenn Thrush, a solid progressive, writes at Politico how Hillary Clinton is old-fashioned and boring compared to Donald Trump–while softening the impact with some tongue-bathing adulation of Hillary’s policy.
The Republican frontrunner, he writes, is having more fun and “dominating the press” to bust up her control-freak campaign that seems more appropriate for an election held 40 or 50 years ago.
Clinton’s inability to master the press – or even understand the basic rules of controlling bad coverage – is legendary. As first lady, Clinton’s suspicion of the prying media hardened into a trench warfare determination to keep reporters at arms’ length; There have been periods of thaw but her personal press relations were abysmal in 2008 and have been more or less non-existent in the 2016 cycle.
She was inexplicably ill-prepared and defensive in dealing with the predictable onslaught after the email scandal. And she hasn’t been willing to engage in all but the bare minimum off-the-record shmooze sessions that build goodwill – or at least mutual understanding – with her embedded press contingent. Many of the reporters who cover her have little sense of connection (positive or negative) to the candidate they have co-habitated with for months, and it’s clear that her chilly diffidence is a personal choice.
Hillary Clinton is a broccoli politician – Donald Trump is an all-you-can-eat donut truck.
Clinton’s support is deeper and (probably) more durable, but the respective size and passion of their crowds speak to her vulnerabilities, if not necessarily his electability. Clinton events are predictable, stodgy, policy-lecture pep rallies designed to bond her to the constituencies she must galvanize to win. Trump’s rallies are gut-punch populist rambles through his id punctuated by the raucous ejection of pop-up protesters that break out with the approximate frequency of minor-league hockey fights.
As a candidate, Hillary Clinton campaigns with detached dignity and caution of a 1960’s or 1970’s politician, and her passion, unmistakably, is policy. Clinton’s kick-off speech at Roosevelt Island this summer was a nearly interminable laundry list of proposals ranging from Wall St. reform to childcare to ISIS. Trump’s appeal, by contrast, is visceral and enthusiastically anti-intellectual. The policy page on his web site has been blank for most of the campaign – and his maiden speech as a candidate consisted of a free-association riff in the lobby of his building that included his now infamous Mexicans-are-rapists riff and his pledge to build a big wall on the border.
More importantly, he seems to be changing the expectations of some (perhaps many) voters and reporters: Substance is becoming a condiment, bombast the main course, and Clinton despises that to her wonky core. “She has a certain view of what the process is supposed to be, and she thinks – apart from everything else – that he’s destroying that,” one longtime Clinton adviser told me.
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