NEW YORK, July 24, 2016/ Troy Media/ – Hillary Clinton is a fascinating person on so many levels. The trouble is that she is actually many fascinating people all trapped in one body.
It brings to mind an old movie starring Joanne Woodward called The Three Faces of Eve or the scene in The Exorcist where Fr. Damian Karras says to the old priest, “I think it might be helpful if I gave you some background on the different personalities Regan has manifested. So far, I’d say there seem to be three.”
“There is only one,” Father Merrin replies.
It remains to be seen which “one” – which Hillary – will accept the nomination in Philadelphia this week.
Those who despise her – and they are legion – do so while nursing a contempt so ferocious that it almost takes physical form. I truly believe they see her as Linda Blair when she was in full demonic possession, head turning around and projectile vomiting onto the priest. This priest, in the world view of those Clinton-haters, is nothing more than a stand in for the U.S.
Others – I like to think of them as best represented by mid-career female professionals – see Hillary Clinton as a modern day Helen Reddy or Julie Andrews. When she speaks, they hear women everywhere roar and they view the spectacle of her running for office as breathtakingly beautiful as Sister Maria running through the Austrian alps in The Sound of Music.
These differing public perceptions of her suggest that her own inability to reconcile her psyche into a coherent whole likewise affects those who merely observe her. Hers is a personality only able to be viewed through a Rashomon influenced filter, where no one can agree on who she is, what she stands for and even what she would do in office.
There are those who see her as dedicated to nothing more than personal advancement. In their eyes, she is a grasping Gollum seduced by her own personal “precious” – the acquisition of power.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would fall into that camp. His belief, as expressed to the Republican National Convention, is that, “Hillary Clinton will say anything, do anything and be anything to get elected president.”
But there is also a dedicated group who remember the Hillary Clinton from 2008 who – fresh off being walloped in the Iowa caucuses by Barack Obama – came close to tears in New Hampshire. She was asked how she “keeps going” on the campaign trail.
With voice quavering and eyes watering, she said, “I couldn’t do it if I didn’t just passionately believe it was the right thing to do. I have so many opportunities from this country…this is very personal for me.”
This very rare glimpse at a living, breathing person was credited with recapturing female voters in the New Hampshire primary and lifting her to a victory in that state over Obama. It humanized her in a way that hadn’t occurred since she was widely applauded for her public dignity during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
But critics will say the emotion was strategic and manufactured. They will say her public composure in the face of marital discord was because she was inured to her husband’s infidelities.
Whatever she may be at home and in the privacy of her own thoughts, Clinton is nothing if not a contradiction.
She has been criticized by Bernie Sanders for being too far to the right and too cozy with Wall Street. Yet, there is also the Hillary Clinton who as first lady was criticized for being too far to the left for trying to bring affordable and universal health care to the people of the U.S. a decade before anyone had even heard of Obama.
There may not in fact be a ‘real’ Hillary Clinton. She may adopt a series of convenient and advantageous personas – with no underlying person acting as bedrock.
It explains perfectly her election strategy to date. Rather than flesh out what a Clinton presidency would really look like, she is content for now to say, in effect, “Vote for me. I’m not Donald Trump.”
The more important question of who she actually is seems destined to remain unanswered.
Unless her head actually does spin around in Philadelphia.
Which is unlikely. Right?
Troy Media columnist Gavin MacFadyen is a U.S.-based writer and occasional lawyer. Blending insight and wit, he brings a unique perspective to the issues of the day. Gavin is also included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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