I haven't had a chance to read the Klein piece yet - but looking forward to this profile of the person who may become the nation's first Venusian president. - promoted by hesterprynne
For most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships.
For the reality-based crowd–the crowd that believes in working toward reality, not the crowd that believes they already know it–Ezra Klein has a long, important piece on Hillary Clinton. He doesn’t fawn. He doesn’t tell the truth–only an idiot thinks that he knows the truth about a person. This piece is important because it is one of the first that attempts to understand our next president.
Too often, we fall victim to the notion that people are simple, lacking contradiction and complexity. We forget that what we know is mediated, filtered, in Chris Cilizza’s words, “distilled” by the media. Klein knows a fair number people with a lot of direct experience with Hillary Clinton. He interviewed many more. These people insist that she is much different in person.
Every single person brought up, in some way or another, the exact same quality they feel leads Clinton to excel in governance and struggle in campaigns. On the one hand, that makes my job as a reporter easy. There actually is an answer to the question… Hillary Clinton, they said over and over again, listens.
Klein, with some sourcing, suggests that the campaign trail was not constructed with women in mind. Listening, while not exclusive to women, is more valued by women, says Klein. The modern campaign, however, is focused on the other end of communication: speaking.
Modern presidential campaigns are built to reward people who are really, really good at talking. So imagine what a campaign feels like if you’re not entirely natural in front of big crowds. Imagine that you are constantly compared to your husband, one of the greatest campaign orators of all time; that you’ve been burned again and again after saying the wrong thing in public; that you’ve been told, for decades, that you come across as calculated and inauthentic on the stump.
Klein refers to Clinton’s 2000 senate and 2016 presidential campaigns as evidence.
Clinton began her 2016 campaign with a listening tour, as well, and it is worth considering the possibility that these tours are not simply bullshit. This is, to be honest, a possibility I had not really considered until speaking with past and present Clinton aides who have been forced to take their boss’s process seriously….
It turned out that Clinton, in her travels, stuffed notes from her conversations and her reading into suitcases, and every few months she dumped the stray paper on the floor of her Senate office and picked through it with her staff. The card tables were for categorization: scraps of paper related to the environment went here, crumpled clippings related to military families there. These notes, Rubiner recalls, really did lead to legislation. Clinton took seriously the things she was told, the things she read, the things she saw. She made her team follow up.
Klein doesn’t shy away from legitimate causes of Clinton’s negative approval ratings. The perennial favorites–her Iraq War vote, Goldman-Sach’s speech, and email scandal–are mentioned. And he suggests that her listening style of governance, coupled with her antiquated ability to compromise, could be a potential problem for her presidency. On the other hand, both qualities suggest that perhaps she actually understands the concerns of Bernie Sanders’ supporters and will pursue them.
For anyone who cares enough to understand Hillary Clinton as a person, not a reflection of the media or individual ideology, Ezra Klein’s Understanding Hillary is necessary reading. I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually turns into part of a presidential biography. It’s took long to gloss over the entire article, but you ignore at your peril and will almost certainly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.