Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has downplayed her massive wealth in a series of interviews because she is ashamed of it, claims a psychologist who works closely with high net worth individuals.
“Her responses so far have come off as somewhat disingenuous, probably because she has a lot of ambivalence about her own wealth,” Jamie Traeger-Muney, a psychologist with Wealth Legacy Group, told Politico.
Traeger-Muney’s analysis was in response to a number of flubs in which Clinton qualified her and husband Bill’s riches, which are estimated to be between $100 million and $200 million.
Clinton’s first fumble came during an interview with ABC News when she said that she and the former president were “dead broke” after leaving the White House in 2001. Among the couples’ expenses were “houses,” daughter Chelsea’s tuition to elite universities, and legal bills stemming from several investigations.
In another interview, when asked about rising inequality in the U.S., Clinton said that the American public does not see her and Bill as part of that economic problem “because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names.”
“We’ve done it through dint of hard work,” she added.
While it was unsurprising that conservatives mocked Clinton’s statements, Democrats were critical as well. Some claimed that any attempt by Clinton to appear not to be extremely rich painted her as out of touch with the American public.
“It feels like there is a lot of shame in there, and that is very common for wealth holders, especially in today’s climate,” Traeger-Muney told Politico.
One explanation given for Clinton’s delicate approach to money could be a fear that it would turn off the Democratic base. Though Clinton is widely believed to be the pre-ordained Democratic presidential nominee for the 2016 election — should she choose to run — someone like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a liberal Democrat, could expose Clinton’s weakness.
The Clintons’ close ties to Wall Street could be exposed by someone like Warren, who has been heavily critical of big banks.
To broaden her appeal, Traeger-Muney told Politico that she thinks Clinton needs to “own” her wealth while also continuing to tout her middle class bona fides.
“It would be great for her to explore her own ambivalence around wealth and what it means to have her policy views and be a wealth holder,” Traeger-Muney said. “The moment she’s at peace with that for herself, the need for coaching would diminish.”