It’s Not Hillary’s Personality, Stupid

It’s Not Hillary’s Personality, Stupid

It’s Not Hillary’s Personality, Stupid

Media fear and self-loathing are already on the campaign trail.


“We are horrible,” a TV producer covering Hillary’s first day of campaigning, at a community college in Iowa, said after watching a version of the clip above, according to Slate. “Why do we do this?”

The usual explanation is simple competition: ratings and advertising dollars and keeping your increasingly scarce media job demand it.

There’s always been a certain amount of media fear and self-loathing on the campaign trail. From the press complaining about suffering from “Clinton fatigue”—which it acquired from obsessing over Hillary’s every pore—to Maureen Dowd’s vampire-like columns that feed on Clinton blood, the Beltway media herd has always been pretty horrible, especially to Bill and Hill (and I say this not as one of their fans).

As much as the media would like the 2016 elections to turn on Hillary’s authenticity or Jeb’s brotherly love or Marco’s youth, the 2016 presidential contest may actually depend on ideology and practical concerns.

This week a video slugged “This Tea Party Patriot May Vote For Hillary” hinted at how little personality and cultural wedge issues may matter anymore. James Webb, who runs a YouTube gun channel (Hot Lead retired), told his followers that the Democrats, and specifically Obamacare, have helped him in a very personal way.

Hello, YouTube. I’m kinda having a difficult decision…. I don’t know whether to go for a Republican or a Democrat—and I’m serious. Because I asked myself, I said, “Which party has helped me out the most in the last, I don’t know, 15 years? Twenty?” And it was the Repub-, err, Democrat Party. The Democrats….

The Republican Party, they ain’t done nothing for me, man. Nothing. So, I’m leaning toward voting for Hillary. Unless something major comes up. I don’t trust the Republicans anymore. They’re wanting to repeal the Obamacare. And, I don’t want them to do that, man, ‘cause then I’ll have to go to work again.

Sure, some commenters on Webb’s channel slam him for retiring at only 50 and call him a welfare cheat. But Obamacare has been doing exactly what the Congressional Budget Office said it would: It’s allowing people to quit jobs they stuck with only for the health benefits and to do something more fulfilling.

Even as the MSM went on a chipotle break over Hillary’s “listening tour” of Iowa, other pundits—including Krugman and Chait—turned up evidence that the polarization of the two parties had begun to tilt the field permanently to the Democrats’ advantage in presidential elections. Economic issues and the trend towards voting against the other party rather than in support of any party leadership have made personality coverage seem increasingly irrelevant.

Recent polls confirm these shifts. The job-approval numbers for Indiana Governor Mike Pence, hailed for his regular “Hoosier sensibility” when he won in 2012, have dropped almost twenty points since the Religious Freedom Restoration Act fiasco. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker, the GOP presidential favorite just a month ago, has seen his job approval ratings drop sharply at home and is running 12 points behind Hillary Clinton in the state; the same Marquette University Law School poll finds that in a possible 2016 Senate rematch, former senator Russ Feingold (D) would beat current Senator Ron Johnson (R) 54 to 38.

Drawing conclusions from polls this early is itself a media horribleness, and I’m part of that. And of course analyzing the personalities of politicians can tell us a lot about their politics and character, and it’s enormous fun.

But as Clinton’s campaign takes shape, I find myself wondering whether 2016 is already baked in. When both parties were filled with a swinging mix of liberals and conservatives, you could give a pol a wedgie and bring him down. But in a Haves vs. Have-nots contest, actually accomplishing something for the most people is a real advantage.

So here’s an idea for the political paparazzi press: Take some of that energy you put into literally chasing pols and put it into investigating them on the issues that affect people’s lives.

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