Monday, September 12, 2016

Hillary as a govt PR specialist

A nice essay in First Things by Barton Swaim on Hillary Clinton's style / approach to truth...

The author starts with a description of PR folks within govt agencies: "The point is to say nothing or to restate what’s already known, to give the impression that somebody is doing something, or at least that somebody cares, and to avoid saying anything demonstrably untrue."

From there, he compares this approach to Hillary: "That, I think I can say without too much exaggeration, describes the style of Hillary Clinton. It’s not just that her writing is boring and tends toward empty word-level justifications of her own conduct, though it does. In both her logorrheic memoirs, Living History (2003) and Hard Choices (2014), she writes in the anodyne crisis mode of a government spokesman during an agency meltdown—carefully and dryly, never conceding wrongdoing and always interpreting past decisions in the best possible light. Most political spokesmen and many politicians express themselves in this way under pressure, but Clinton has adopted it as a style of communication—and, it seems, as a way of thinking."

And then, to another (larger? related?) problem: "There is a kind of baby-boomer Pharisaism in Clinton’s outlook. It’s an outlook that recognizes the existence of evil, yes, but the evil is always located in other people, never in oneself; it’s always out there somewhere—in society..."

Three thoughts here-- two about the candidates and the other about their supporters (and perhaps their voters):
1.) It's been well-documented that Trump doesn't (seem to) understand a need to be forgiven or his capacity to sin. Clinton is in a similar spot-- at least in how she portrays herself publicly. (She apologized the other day for calling half of Trump's voters really nasty things. But one is hard-pressed to imagine that the apology is heart-felt.)
2a.) Both of these candidates are liars. Trump's are of the flashier variety; Clinton's are lawyer-like and more-clearly-calculated.
2b.) IMO, neither is (nearly) an acceptable approach to truth, life, or public office. But many people have (far) lower standards-- on one type of liar or another. Or they need to vote for one or the other and are willing to rationalize away the character problem. Hey, if you want to sell your soul for either bowl of soup...fine. But don't lecture me about the need to vote X or spin your Unicorn or Powerball-level "your-vote-matters" rationalizations. You'll be voting your principles in November. The question is what those principles are.


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