Published on TheHill.com on June 17, 2014
Why did Hillary Clinton, one of America’s most seasoned political figures, fail so spectacularly in her recent television interviews, generating negative stories with each daily installment?
One reason is that she has become accustomed to a foreign press corps that didn’t cover either domestic politics or personal criticisms of her. So, in her first series of challenging interviews with America’s top journalists who asked tough personal and political questions, the normally sophisticated and articulate Clinton seemed both unseasoned and shockingly unready for the big time.
Her biggest blunder was one she’s committed before: pretending that she’s just like the rest of us. Amazingly, she claimed that she and Bill were “dead broke,” leaving the White House “struggling” to pay the mortgages for their two mansions and their daughter’s education. “It wasn’t easy,” she said, but “hard work” cured it.
It wasn’t “easy” on a $16 million income?
Tell that to the people who have been looking for jobs for years and are now losing both their unemployment benefits and their homes. They know what dead broke is. Tell that to the young people who graduate from college with more than $100,000 in debts. They know what’s not easy.
And they know that they will never be able to make $200,000 for giving a single speech, like she does. Or $700,000 a speech, like her husband has. Some might even question whether flying on a private jet to get to those lucrative gigs is really “hard work.” But Clinton seemed to be suggesting she and her husband were entitled to the big bucks, and appeared to expect sympathy for her far-fetched sob story.
It was one of those unforgettably graphic moments when everyone instantly gets that they are watching someone who is truly, truly out of touch. Like when President George H.W. Bush was amazed by scanners in supermarkets. Or, more distantly, when Marie Antoinette famously prescribed her solution for a shortage of bread: “Let them eat cake.”
You can’t really fix something like that.
Clinton wants it both ways. She wants to live a life of luxury while pretending that she and Bill are just plain folks — trying to make ends meet, worrying about their next paycheck, trying to scrape together their child’s tuition. That’s why she told Diane Sawyer that they were “dead broke.” She was just pretending she’s like everyone else.
But she’s not. Her real circumstances made a mockery of her pretense. And viewers instinctively understand that.
Beyond playing the role of a struggling middle classer, Clinton fell flat because her ingrained sense of entitlement came through. Perched in the living room of her posh Georgetown mansion, featuring shots of her turquoise swimming pool, she made it hard to emphasize with her allegedly tough former financial situation.
And, of course, she never explained why she needed not one but two lavish mansions before she left the White House. If she was so broke, why didn’t she just rent apartments in New York and Washington?
Why? Because she was entitled to two glamorous homes, that’s why. She was a senator and a former first lady. She wasn’t going to live in any small apartment. Why should she?
The Clintons, especially Hillary, have always been tone deaf about their finances. They’ve always believed that they’re entitled to an opulent lifestyle, even when they can’t afford it.
The narrative goes like this: The Clintons do such important work and are such brilliant and exceptional people, they deserve special treatment. We’re so lucky they’re making the world a better place. They’re not like other people, so they shouldn’t be treated like other people. Their legal bills should be paid by others, their mortgages guaranteed by others. Their china, silver and furniture should be purchased by others. They’re also entitled to grab every last dollar available out there in obscenely overpaid speeches. Get it?
Hillary Clinton’s gross sense of entitlement on full display was another big cause of her interview flops. It’s not likely to change anytime soon.
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