Hillary Clinton can’t pour a beer, and that’s OK

By Gabriel Costello, Columnist

Hillary Clinton had a week filled with faux pas. Perhaps most memorable was her being unable to slide a card to board the New York City subway. After a grand total of five swipes she made it through. It did not exactly come off as endearing. This scene was followed by her filling a pint glass about three-quarters full. The content of the glass was almost entirely foam.

Again, it was not exactly the image she was going for. She seemed inept at everyday tasks, impersonable and disconnected from what life is like for beer-drinking, subway-riding Americans.

Really, it does not matter. These events have no bearing on the kind of president Clinton would be. While it’s fine to laugh at politicians looking stupid, it would be a mistake to actually consider failures like this when entering the voting booth.

Clinton should know better as well; she is not an “average Joe”. When a candidate’s pandering is that apparent it looks insulting to most people, but it is not representative of them as a leader.

In the 2016 election cycle, the idea of an elder stateswoman is a sure repellent for most voters. The flailing Donald Trump – who, by the way, is anything but an “average Joe” – manages to speak the common language. Bernie Sanders is able to consistently hit on the same issue: income inequality. The secretary has struggled to keep up on this issue.

Like Clinton, Sanders is no newcomer to politics, only to the national stage. It may just be a personality difference, but Sanders looks far more in his element sitting in a diner than Clinton. For the last three decades, she has either been in the White House or the Senate. The public knows this.

Her reluctance to highlight this fact speaks to how the public feels about the denizens of Washington, D.C. at the moment. Like it or not, this is the record that she has to run on. It is nothing to swat at. She needs to make the case that she knows how Washington, D.C. works, not that she knows how to fill a mug with suds.

The media bears some responsibility for this phenomenon. Giving more attention to a few missteps than, say, the Panama Papers, says something about what the media prioritizes.

Of course, she is not the only politician to look silly while engaging in some pandering. Marco Rubio hitting a child in the head with a football this past summer comes to mind. She is at her best when she acts like herself: a dignified elder stateswoman and the first viable female candidate for the highest office in the land. The president does not ride the subway, and that is okay.

Clinton’s inability to blend into a everyday experience only casts a brighter light on a phenomenon that has already been so well-documented in this election cycle. Sanders’ oversized suits and wrinkled shirts come off as genuine. Similarly, no one would ever mistake Trump for a dignified statesmen. Clinton is a steak and the people want hamburger.

That being said, Clinton’s best bet is still to play to her strengths. If Clinton is able to secure the nomination, she will have to win over many of Sanders’ supporters. But this may not be as much of a problem as one might think.

As it stands today, she is still viewed favorably by a majority of Democrats. In a February 2016 Gallup poll, 55 percent of Democrats had a favorable opinion of the secretary. Clinton dipped below Sanders in favorability ratings after the New Hampshire primary, but has since reclaimed the top spots.

Looking more toward the general election and Trump, her likely opponent, we see an even more conducive scenario for the secretary. An aggregate of polls presented by the Huffington Post shows that as much as 70 percent of the country views Trump unfavorably. Clinton does not have to make the people think she is one of them. Instead, in a general election, she would have to play the role of the grown-up in the room. 

While this tactic failed in the primary for the likes of Jeb Bush and many others, the secretary would be speaking to a much larger audience. In that scenario, a cool, calm and dignified Hillary would be sure to sway many voters. She should employ this image in the primary instead of staging photo ops.

Gabriel is a sophomore in LAS.

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