The Yuckiness of Politicians

A good politician, it seems to me, has to (a) be a good liar and (b) do the right thing. Of the two, (b) is the hard one.

I don’t worry too much about Hillary being expert at (a). Both she and her husband are skilled liars. But will she do the right thing if elected? I tend to think so (I would say the chance is greater that 50%). On social issues, I have no worries: it’s the Republicans who are insane, making about as much sense an Grandpa Simpson (“Stem cells are evil I tell you! EEEE-vil!”). On the economy, I have some worries, though there are enough rich Democrats, like Bob Rubin, who hopefully will be influential in the Clinton II administration.

But then I read that piece in the NYT about Hillary’s college letters:

Ms. Rodham becomes expansive and wistful when discussing the nature of leadership and public service, and how the validation of serving others can be a substitute for self-directed wisdom. “If people react to you in the role of answer bestower then quite possibly you are,” she writes in a letter postmarked Nov. 15, 1967, and continues in this vein for another page before changing the subject to what [her correspondent] plans to do the following weekend

Yuck. But it gets worse:

Her letters at times betray a kind of innocent narcissism over “my lost youth,” as she described it in a letter shortly after her 19th birthday. She wrote of being a little girl and believing that she was the only person in the universe. She had a sense that if she turned around quickly, “everyone else would disappear.

“I’d play out in the patch of sunlight that broke the density of the elms in front of our house and pretend there were heavenly movie cameras watching my every move,” she says.

Wow. And I thought I was narcissistic.

Of course, it would be embarrassing (to say the least) to have most our of our high school or college letters scrutinized by the New York Times. But there is in the excerpt published in the Times a whiff of sanctimony that really turns my stomach. There are those folks—we all remember them from school and see them at work—who for some reason want to tell others how to live. I suspect Hillary is one of those. Then again, all politicians are probably like that to some extent. Hall-monitors, essentially.

I just hope she does the right economic thing if elected. Then again, the bar is pretty low.