As I wrote last week in declaring my preference for John Edwards, I will enthusiastically support whoever ultimately wins the Democratic nomination for president. This really is a tremendous field of candidates who each bring different strengths to the table, and they each put the Democratic Party in a very good position to win the White House… even Hillary Clinton.
I know that Republicans have long drooled at the prospect of facing off against Clinton, believing she would be by far the easiest Democrat to beat, and I know that there is some polling to back up this conventional wisdom… but I’ve never believed it. In fact, I’ve rolled more than a few eyes in private conversation by suggesting that Americans would actually grow to like Clinton once they got to know her better during the course of a general election campaign. I know it defies what we’ve been told for years, but Hillary Clinton is likable.
This clip of Clinton going off on an emotional tangent, her voice breaking slightly as she explains her personal reasons for putting herself through such a grueling campaign, has elicited howls of derision from her critics. To some it is a show of weakness we cannot afford in a president. To others it is just an act; yet another crass political calculation. But me, I see a rare, unguarded moment in which Clinton reveals herself to be, well, a human being, as complex and nuanced as most any other human being.
No doubt it takes a great deal of narcissism to run for president (as it does to say, blog or do talk radio,) but that doesn’t inherently make one’s motives for running any less genuine. We all have a tendency to vilify the opposition, but as Clinton explains, it is possible to be wrong, but for all the right reasons:
“And we do it, each one of us because we care about our country, but some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some us are ready and some us are not. Some of us know what we will do on day one, and some of us haven’t really thought that through enough.”
It is fair to disagree with Clinton on the issues, on her experience or on her agenda, but the “Hillary haters” in both parties who attack her motives add absolutely nothing to the debate, and those who expect their own knee-jerk dislike of Clinton to be shared by a majority of Americans are setting themselves up for disappointment should she win the nomination. Contrary to myth, Hillary Clinton is a real person with real emotions, and I have always believed that given the opportunity to know her better, voters would grow to appreciate Clinton and her incredibly broad grasp on the issues. And yes, perhaps, even like her.