by Matt Stoller, Thu May 24, 2007 at 03:59:41 AM EDT
As I've said before, Clinton is a hawk. But that does not mean that she's stupid, insecure, and nasty like George Bush. She's charismatic, warm, intelligent, and exceptionally knowledgeable. Here's a standard account of her impressive persona at a meeting.
While traveling during the past week, I visited a longtime friend who recently met Hillary Clinton. The event was private and exclusive -- only a few dozen business leaders attended, along with some spouses. Hillary spoke, took questions, then met with everyone personally.
During the Q & A session, the executives asked her some complex questions about technology, international trade, globalization, etc. My friend said her responses were in-depth and extremely intelligent. He was also impressed by the personal interest she took in everyone during the meet and greet session; she spent a few minutes speaking with each person individually, frequently asking questions that indicated she both listened to and thought about their comments.
According to my friend, a political independent who has never been particularly fond of Hillary, she was a huge hit. He went home ready to vote for her, and he sensed others in the audience felt the same way
Having a President who's really really smart is such a break from Bush that this one simple fact could override all other considerations by the base. So many people - especially young women - are blown away by her poise that they will support her. Because of the blurring of the candidates, personality could be the way that the Democratic Party is going to choose its nominee, picking an unrepenting hawk who is also an incredibly smart rock star. The challenge of her opponents is not to denigrate that personality, but to point out that voters should choose based on different ideas about the country and not different cults of personality.
After all, a serious mistake would be to assume that criticism of her principles implies criticism of her personal abilities. Because of the right-wing smear machine of the 1990s, Clinton is considered not only calculating, but she is expected to be cold, mean, and dismissive. She's not. She's really quite brilliant and comes across exceptionally well. If you don't believe that, as many of you don't, prepare to be blown away when you do see her in person. The public has low expectations for Clinton. We shouldn't. She's amazing.Update [2007-5-24 10:22:20 by Matt Stoller]: A lot of people are interpreting this as me being in the tank for Clinton. Not so. It's just obvious that she's very brilliant, and you're not going to beat her by pretending she's not.