Hillary’s trying to play us with that “I’m not a natural politician” schtick

Oh, for Pete’s sake.

At the Univision debate in Miami this week, Clinton was asked why people didn’t trust her (37% of Americans don’t trust her, to be exact).  In response, striking what she calculated to be a sad, disappointed tone, she rolled out a brand new schtick:  She’s just an underdog politician, not a “natural politician,” but she’s doing the best she can.  It’s not a trust issue, see – it’s just that she’s not slick on the stump:

I am not a natural politician, in case you haven’t noticed, like my husband or President Obama.  So I have a view that I just have to do the best I can, get the results I can, make a difference in people’s lives and hope that people see that I’m fighting for them and that I can improve conditions economically and other ways that will benefit them and their families.

I’m watching this, in amusement, thinking that she is in fact a pretty natural politician, she’s just not a natural, genuine person.  She’s joyless, charmless, she can absolutely suck the life right out of a room when she embarks on one of her rambling answers/non-answers, and she doesn’t have much to offer that doesn’t come off as robotic.  She’s trying to dispel the “untrustworthy” label by claiming an inability to be an effective politician – and that’s so patently absurd that it only enhances the untrustworthy label.

This is a woman with amazing chutzpah; just last week, right before the Michigan primary, she was already talking about Bernie’s supporters tilting her way.  She’s not running for president, she’s running as the already nominated general election candidate; and with that arrogance and audacity, who on earth does she think she’s kidding – except maybe her own rabid supporters – by trying to sell us this humble pie routine?  It’s a bit of a hard sell for her to say, on the one hand, that she lacks the skills of a “natural” politician and that she’s just in this to help people, and on the other hand level cheap, sneaky shots at Bernie Sanders that she knows are untrue but hopes stick anyway.  That behavior smacks of someone laser-focused on the game, not someone laser-focused on the high road.

Of course, anyone watching her sees how awkward she is – but that’s more a product of having her back against the wall now with a serious challenge by Bernie Sanders than it is her inept politicking.  She’s rocked, and it shows.  She thought she had this on lock.  So yes, of course we’ve noticed that she can’t answer a yes or no question, ever; we’ve noticed that she haughtily and icily dismisses serious questions about serious issues, like the snarled mess of emails; we have taken note that she laughs gaily when she’s hit with something she isn’t comfortable talking about, like releasing the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches; and we’ve come to know the look well – the pursed lips, tightened jaw, wide eyes – when asked about something she’s trying to hide from voters; many of us listened in disbelief when she couldn’t tell CBS’ Scott Pelley definitively that she’d never lied to the American people.  But here’s the thing:  She has those problems precisely because she is a polished politician, and precisely because she is dishonest and untrustworthy – her responses are so often a meandering stream because she appears to be mentally calculating how best to answer politically.  It never seems to occur to her that she could just tell the truth.  She’s awkward, all right, but it’s not because she doesn’t know how to navigate this jungle they call politics; she’s awkward because she’s not generally telling the truth, and it’s a lot harder to speak off the cuff when you’re having to instantly assess Door Nos. 1, 2 and 3.  Clinton’s been playing this political game for decades; she’s not so much an unnatural politician as she is an unlikable one.  She doesn’t have charm, she doesn’t have warmth, her words ring hollow, and even her “look how compassionate I can be, see, I’m hugging this little girl” moments appear scripted and mechanical.

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Her words belie past actions; her words smack of political expedience, and when called out, she becomes defiant and retrenches.  Who can trust a person who flips the script so frequently, who steadfastly refuses to come clean with the American public about what she said to Wall Street, who refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of an FBI investigation launched to investigate her actions and those of her closest staff members, who has revised her email story multiple times since it burst into public view and who, a year ago, was taking it even less seriously, basically telling the press to buzz off when they asked about it?  How can we trust someone as our nation’s leader who can’t even fess up to mistakes – big mistakes – she made as Secretary of State?  And more importantly, how can we trust someone who truly seems to believe that she is the victim of smear politics, and can’t, won’t, admit that, at best, her judgment was piss-poor?

This, this humble, self-critical “admission,” was a good try by a highly skilled politician, but I’m not buying what she’s selling.  She doesn’t connect with voters because she’s icy, elitist, and a consummate double-talking politician, not because she just can’t get her personal ground game together.