Politics

Hillary’s Other Presser Problem: She Was Utterly Unlikable

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

After Hillary Clinton’s disastrous press conference yesterday, a thought hit me that hadn’t hit me in nearly a decade: The next president could actually be a Republican.

Readers of this blog know that I am not given to foolish optimism. At a meeting of conservatives the Friday before the 2012 election, I was the only one to raise my hand when the question was asked: “Does anyone here think President Obama will be re-elected?”

It’s unclear whether I’ve been a realist or a pessimist (I hope the former). But Hillary’s performance, coupled with the fact that she has no real primary competition, was the first time in a long time I thought the odds were better than 50/50 a Republican would win the White House. (And when you consider the many scandals that have emerged over the years, that’s saying something.)

I’m not going to delve into the many questionable things she said, like the claim she used one email for “convenience,” the fact that she got to unilaterally decide which “personal” emails to delete, or other inconsistencies over whether or not President Bill Clinton even uses email. These are important questions, but there are plenty of others who are parsing those statements.

But the larger, if more superficial, impression I was left with was the general feeling that she seemed utterly unlikable.

Granted, it was a difficult spot for her, but some people can rise to the occasion. Bill Clinton can, as the saying goes, “tell you to go to hell, but have you looking forward to the trip.” Not so with Hillary. She had none of the charisma of her husband, and none of the promises of “hope and change” that propelled Barack Obama to the White House.

In the absence of a smoking gun (which has likely been deleted), my guess is that — in the long run — much of politics comes down to things like likability and authenticity. And if this rollout was a harbinger of things to come, Hillary is in trouble. It’s become something of a cliche to say this, but it seems like she’s just not that good at (this part of) politics. And the problem is, at this level, you kind of have to be.

The more I think about how bad Hillary was — the more I can see that she is, in fact, vulnerable — the more convinced I am that Republicans must nominate someone who will serve as a stark contrast.