Hillary Clinton's Multiple Personality Disorder

Most politicians change their positions for political purposes. Only one national politician routinely changes her own identity -- her accents, her name, her personality and even her height -- to become likeable enough to get elected. She is flailing and failing. What does it say about her view of us?

Hillary Clinton has capitalized on identity politics throughout her political career. The irony of her practice is that she has shifted and changed her own “identity” throughout her political career -- a career that began during her years at Wellesley, if not before.

We are used to politicians “trimming” their positions and agendas to gain support. Recently, Chuck Todd showed Hillary Clinton a montage of her own flip-flops but all but the most principled politicians are contortionists.  They respond to political polling and focus groups and electoral math. They never admit to this practice but they all do it to get elected.  Normally, they credit themselves -- and their backers join in -- for having “evolved.”   A lot of evolution seems to occur when one enters the political arena -- it is a dog-eat-dog world where only the most electable survive and prosper.

But how many actually have felt so little of themselves and so little of the American people that they radically shift their own personalities and images -- somehow thinking they can bamboozle Americans into believing they are who they are not?

Clinton has long suffered from what politicos have called a “personality deficit.”  In an early 2008 debate with Barack Obama this weakness was highlighted when the issue arose and Barack Obama gallantly (not) told her she was likeable “enough.”  But that has been the crux of her political problems; none of her personalities have been likeable enough. She keeps trying to find a new one that fits and none have because she has been on the stage too long for the public not to notice all the costume changes.  The serial reboots just are not taking.

Let us count the ways

Clinton’s persona has morphed so repeatedly over the years to appear to be likeable -- to develop that Q factor that propels newscasters and politicians to wealth and power -- that she has become a bit of a blur.

There are examples of her chameleon lizard-like history.

She has a pattern of changing her name for example.

As Matthew Continetti recently wrote:

It all started with her name. “Mrs. Clinton had originally kept the name Hillary Rodham when she married,” wrote Robert Pear back in 1993, “then took the name Hillary Clinton while [Bill] was governor of Arkansas, in one of many image adjustments that have accompanied their joint political journey.” When her husband put her in charge of drawing up education standards for Arkansas, Clinton reinserted her maiden name and became “Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Now, like Beyoncé and Madonna and Oprah, she has no need of surnames at all. She is simply Hillary.

And yet the entity known as “Hillary” seems always to be in flux. A famous moment occurred during the 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton promised that a vote for him was also a vote for his wife: “Vote for one, get one free.” Voters recoiled at that idea, however. “Mrs. Clinton was unpopular in the role of chief policy adviser to her husband,” the Times reported around the time of Clinton’s inauguration. “And in April [1992], the Clinton campaign set out to remake her image.” Out went the policy wonk. In came what the Times called the “cookie-baking mom.”

But the cookie-baker was not to last. As soon as the Clintons had moved into the White House, they announced that Hillary would have an office in the West Wing and take the lead on certain domestic issues, most significantly health care. “Mrs. Clinton’s new role differs markedly from the image she and her staff tried to cultivate in the seven months before Election Day,” reported the New York Times. It was as though the Clintons were blowing a raspberry at the country and saying: “Fooled you!”

When Clinton’s health plan collapsed due to (among other things) her mismanagement and maladroitness, Hillary changed her image once more. In the words of former Clinton adviser William Galston, she “retreated for a while and licked her wounds.” She was less visible in the West Wing, the Times reported; her international travel schedule grew busier.

And when the Lewinsky scandal and impeachment controversy arrived, Clinton took on the persona of the aggrieved yet loyal wife, defending her husband against the “vast right-wing conspiracy.” It was this identity, and a change of residence to deep-blue New York, that was enough to get her to the Senate in 2000.

Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign was a bonanza of restarts and revamped images. “The candidate herself evinced a paralyzing schizophrenia,” wrote Joshua Green in the Atlantic Monthly. “One day a shots-’n’-beers brawler, the next a Hallmark Channel mom.”

Continetti was referring to her quaffing a beer and shot in front of the media at an Indiana restaurant during the heat of the 2008 primary (she was mocked, naturally, by Barack Obama).

She has updated her everyday American extreme makeover by riding the Scooby Van and stopping at a Chipotle -- a play for the Hispanic vote? Kissing babies is out in this germ-phobic and trigger-warning era; photo-ops in fast-food places are the new “things.” Does anyone think that Clinton has eaten any fast food in the last 30 years, let alone ordering it herself? Do they think we are that dumb?  (Yes.)  Besides, “everyday American” has been killed off as a campaign term. Why not just kill off all that goes with that approach since we all know the Dowager of Chappaqua is not an everyday American.

But project Hillary 9.0 (or whatever number we are up to as of today) has gone beyond name changes and phony photo-ops. She has routinely over the years changed her accent to fit in with whatever audience she appears before. For example, before African-Americans and southerners she affects accents condescendingly thought to appeal to them (a compilation can be found here and her mimicry extends back over 30 years).  This practice and fakery is offensive. If she is so fond of Southerners why didn’t she stay in Arkansas instead of changing her residency to New York (that did not show much gratitude to the fine people of Arkansas). Does she think we are that dumb? (Yes.)

Recently, she has even changed officially her height, defying gravity and the effects of age, goping from five feet five inches to five feet seven inches to appear more presidential (Ross Perot, a Five-fiver himself, did not find this necessary; he did not need to since he was standing upon a lifetime of successes, in contrast to Clinton).  If her presidential prospects don’t pan out maybe she can sell some of that miracle growth-promoting potion on the Home Shopping Network.

Was Hillary really dead-broke, a veritable pauper, when she left the White House to shortly thereafter move into the Clinton family estate in Chappaqua and rapidly began her and Bill’s excellent adventure into to centi-millionaire status, complete with world travels on private jets and a retinue of servants and sycophants? No.

Was Clinton a courageous sniper-defying First Lady in Bosnia? No.

Does Clinton really care about the costs of college education as she plays the part of a Diva when appearing at college campuses to deliver canned speeches at hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop?

Does she have a sense of humor when she brings her own laugh-track with her and cackles at her own flat, if not crude and weird, jokes (Clinton on Qaddafi: “we came, we saw, he died”; then there is her own laugh-filled retelling of her successful defense of a child rapist). Comedians even make fun of her affectation of humor. To paraphrase Donald Trump, can we imagine that laugh in our next president? Just keep clicking on the Clinton laugh button to get a sense of what we would need to endure.

Doe she really care about everyday Americans when she can dismiss the murders of those serving America with the now infamous “What difference at this point does it make”?

Was she a devoted first lady of Arkansas or a phenomenally successful commodities speculator in her spare time? Was she a devoted First Lady of America or a Macbethian healthcare czarina and travel impresario? 

Is she the upright scold against money in politics when her and Bill’s entire trajectory has been about money and politics. They are entwined in and skilled at this corrupt system more than any couple in American history. It is part of their DNA.

When insurgent candidates are the hot new thing in politics does she really expect Americans to swallow her assertion that she is not just an “outsider” but the furthest “outsider” possible?

When she boldly declares, “I am a real person,” it echoes Richard Nixon’s ‘I am not a crook.”

Decades ago, William Safire succinctly (pre-Twitter age) described Hillary Clinton as a “congenital liar.”  Charles Krauthammer has more contemporaneously pegged her as authentically inauthentic.”

As she keeps changing her identity to try to be likeable, how much backbone will she have to face our problems and adversaries?  Does she have a backbone when she is so flexible about her own sense of self?

Humanizing Hillary Clinton may truly be an “Impossible Dream” as Charles Cooke wrote in National Review as the campaign scrambles to change her image. The 20-year Clinton Humanization project continues apace.  Not coincidentally, out comes a new book, “Hillary: The Photographs of Diana Walker” to help the extreme makeover, version 9.0 or whatever we are up to this hour.  The book will soon be found on remainder tables if not on its way to being pulped.

The campaign has been going backwards in time, Benjamin Button like, to find photos of her that portray her in a gauzy nostalgic and more  “relatable” and likeable way”.  Meet the new likeable Hillary-age 5 –and ready for the Oval Office.

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