Hillary Clinton has everything that a U.S. president needs. Yet she is unpopular with the people – also due to the fact that she has been in the headlines for 25 years. A perspective on the former secretary of state.
Her rival Bernie Sanders is not giving up, but her lead leaves no doubt: Hillary Clinton will be the first woman to be nominated as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party and compete against Donald Trump.
Something else is new: the American people must choose between two candidates who are both extremely unpopular. In a recent survey by The New York Times and CBS, two-thirds of voters consider neither Trump nor Clinton to be “honest” or “trustworthy.” Only 31 percent of those surveyed say that Trump thinks like they do – Clinton’s 37 percent is only marginally better. And according to a Fox News survey, the Democrat is even more unpopular than the real estate billionaire.
It is no wonder that Trump polarizes with macho talk and suggestions of building a wall with Mexico and not allowing Muslims to enter the U.S. on an interim basis. But why is Clinton so unpopular? Europeans remember her primarily as a hardworking secretary of state who cooperated with Obama after 2008.
Yet even as first lady, Clinton was connected to various scandals and the Republicans are currently ensuring that the attack on the consulate in Libyan Benghazi (four Americans died in 2012) is never forgotten. At the same time, millions of older female voters admire the 68-year-old as the champion of a progressive America who overcomes all opposition. Why is Clinton so polarizing and how does she see herself? Seven videos explain it.
1. The “Fighting For You“ Clip (1 Minute)
Anyone who visits Hillary Clinton’s YouTube page automatically sees this clip. This is how the former secretary of state most likes to present herself: as the champion of all who keep going after a setback. She promises that she will advocate for children, homosexuals and immigrants — above all, she will ensure that women have equal rights and that girls know that they can achieve anything.
Two arguments of Hillary skeptics can be explained with this perfectly produced video. Progressive Americans criticize that with Clinton, it is too often about “I” and, unlike Sanders, too seldom about “we.” And Trump supporters see the Trump argument about the “woman card” confirmed. She is only canvassing for votes with the argument that a woman should finally move into the White House.
2. The “She Lied about Benghazi” Attack (0:33 minutes)
For the conservative Americans who listen to talk radio and watch Fox News, Clinton has been a red flag for decades. Her role in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was investigated beyond a reasonable doubt without being able to prove misdoing on her part – yet this video by Donald Trump’s strategists aims to represent Clinton as dishonest. It documents statements of the parents of one of the Americans killed in Benghazi who are convinced that the then secretary of state lied to them.
3. The “She Constantly Changes Her Mind” Reproach (up to 13 minutes)
If one asks Sanders fans why they don’t vote for Clinton, this statement almost always comes up: “I don’t know what she stands for and don’t trust her to keep her promises.” For sure: a long career with countless interviews and appearances provides materials for contradictory statements — and politicians may naturally change their minds. But this clip that was clicked on more than 7 million times, and which was a subject of discussion on the opinion page of The Washington Post, documents many contradictions on the question of same-sex marriage, free trade and the role of Wall Street banks in the financial crisis (and incidentally contains astonishing attacks from the 2008 election campaign against Obama).
4. The “Resume of a Progressive Politician” Clip (almost 5 minutes)
Clinton’s rival Sanders sees himself as the leader of a movement that could later be led by someone else. The senator seldom explains his political goals ($15 minimum wage, no-cost colleges) with his biography. Clinton offers her fans — up to now — no vision of what America should someday look like, but instead sees her life (lawyer, involved first lady, senator, secretary of state) and her experience as the most important argument. This clip shows well how Clinton has taken a stand for minorities, children and women’s rights for decades. She would have to at least be respected by young women, yet they know almost nothing about the activist Hillary of the '70s. Regardless, whether in TV duels or appearances, she cannot convincingly present her decades-long involvement.
5. The “I Have a Pretty Good Sense of Humor” Video Proof
Clinton is considered to be constrained, which especially stands out when she turns in relaxed performances that actually occur again and again. Among other things, with her appearance as a barmaid on “Saturday Night Live,” Clinton has proven that she can laugh at herself. She is also quick-witted, which has become apparent in diverse late night appearances like her appearance with Jimmy Kimmel. Here the 68-year-old seems quite easygoing and not as controlled and calculated as she otherwise all too often is.
6. The “What Did She Know about Bill’s Affairs?” Clips (10 minutes)
This excerpt from the CBS show “60 Minutes” dates back to the year 1992 when Bill Clinton was a candidate for the White House and rumors about extramarital affairs were circulating. The then governor did not deny the rumors, but instead said, “I'm not prepared tonight to say that any married couple should ever discuss that with anyone but themselves.” Trump has made it clear (for instance in conversation with The New York Times) that there will hardly be any taboos in the contest with Hillary Clinton.
The Republicans will argue that she tolerated or even supported the affairs of her husband – and later threatened Bill’s lovers (This entry in the US-Blog describes how the Lewinsky affair haunts Hillary Clinton). In the election campaign, U.S. citizens will not only set eyes on plenty of archival footage, but women from the Clinton past might pipe up explicitly. That could reinforce the impression of many Americans that Hillary Clinton only stood by her husband to promote her own career.
7. The Future: “Trump Is Attacking on Instagram, Too” (15 seconds)
This clip is the shortest and offers a little taste of the general election campaign to come in 2016: nasty videos can also be placed where otherwise primarily pictures of food and vacations are posted. This video shows very well how Trump and his team can connect existing prejudices to a clear message with archival footage.