Hillary Clinton is special. For two decades she has been one of a few high profile politicians that has remained in the public eye consistently. In addition, she is arguably the highest profile female politician throughout that time as well. But for all the pomp of her status, Hillary Clinton has a public relations issue, as brought up in her interview with CNN on July 7, 2015.
Hillary Clinton has been the First Lady, a Senator, a presidential candidate (now for the 2nd time), and Secretary of State. It would be an astounding political record for anyone, yet was not enough in 2008 to gain the Democrat ticket for the Presidency. Some speculate that it will also not be enough for 2016. For all of the acheivements surrounding Clinton, two vital elements are glaringly missing. Success and trust.
As First Lady, Hillary attempted, and failed, to launch a health care reform in the 1990’s. As Senator for New York State, Hillary sponsored 417 Bills – but only succeeded in having 3 Bills pass. They were the naming of a post office, a historic site, and part of a highway. The 2008 bid for president fell to the charisma and potential of Barack Obama. Her time as Secretary of State has left supporters, and herself, without the ability to name a single achievement while she held the office.
Hillary Clinton has been surrounded by politics but is not seen as leading on any issue. Perhaps the most significant thing that can be said of her time in the political spotlight is the fact that no scandal has yet to take her down. There has been a constant and high-profile trail of scandals connected to her. While Clinton has brushed this off as media hype, hype alone cannot account for every instance for 2 decades.
There was the Whitewater scandal for her and her husband, and the Presidential pardon that went with it. The fiasco of Monica Lewinski. The claims of carpetbagging to become a NY Senator. The Clinton Foundation’s lack of charitable spending and questionable donations. The numerous questions surrounding her contribution bundlers (yes plural). Sniper attacks with invisible bullets on clear sunny days. Even the on-going revelations about her selective disclosure of emails in violation of the very State Department regulations she enforced on other employees. Of course there was the Benghazi Consulate attack and the infamous quote,
“What difference does it make?”
As bad as this very small list of scandals may be, it does not include the misstatements Hillary Clinton has made for years. Put another way, Hillary Clinton is infamous for flip-flopping as the political winds shift. She was in favor of traditional marriage, until it was no longer popular. She was in favor of sanctuary cities, until the current controversy. She is, in her current campaign incarnation, a champion of the Middle Class, but funded by Wall Street and corporations since the 1980’s. She endured poverty, as she and former President Bill Clinton bought multiple million dollar homes, and garnered speaking fees that had six digit price tags and millions in royalties.
Given all of this, when CNN’s Brianna Keilar asked if Hillary herself held any responsibility in the public’s lack of trust in her, Clinton deflected the answer,
“…at the end of the day, I think voters sort it all out. I have great confidence, I trust the American voter 100%.”
The follow up by Keilar may be the most important point in the Democrat race for 2016, asking if Hillary would vote for someone she does not trust. Clinton replied, with seeming incredulity,
“People should, and do, trust me.”
Yet a recent Quinnipiac poll of pivotal States Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, show a majority of voters don’t trust Hillary Clinton. By wide margins over those that do. Which matches a far broader poll by Wall Street Journal/NBC News in 2014 that showed 40% of respondents did not feel Clinton was “Honest and straightforward.” In 2008, the same question showed a result of 43% that did not trust Clinton. Even the NY Times, in a 2007 poll, showed that 38% of those polled were unfavorable to Hillary Clinton, with 20% of men and 21% of women noting it was due to a lack of trust (the poll did not ask those favorable of Clinton if they trusted her).
Given all of this, Hillary Clinton is once again at the top of the list of candidates for Democrat nomination. Even if this time she wins the nomination, serious questions remain about if she can win the presidency itself. In the end, it’s up to voters to “sort it out,” and if so success and trust may be the critical factors in that race.