The most pervasive (and false) narratives of the 2016 election revolve around Hillary’s character: Pundits continually question her honesty, trustworthiness, and likability. But they are committing a category mistake by conflating her cartoon caricature with her true character.
I’ve been making the following argument for months and will continue to do so until Election Day (and beyond):
If you follow politics you know there’s a gaping chasm between Hillary’s public image and her actual character. That chasm was purposely created by her opponents and is purposely exploited by them. In the caricatured version of Hillary promulgated by her detractors in politics and media, Hillary is lying and corrupt. In actual reality, Hillary is a person of integrity who is respected, loved and trusted by those who know her best.
Bill Clinton framed the same point differently in his DNC speech:
One [Hillary] is real, the other is made up. You just have to decide. The real one had done more positive change-making before she was 30 than many public officials do in a lifetime in office. The real one has earned the loyalty, the respect and the fervent support of people who have worked with her in every stage of her life, including leaders around the world who know her to be able, straightforward and completely trustworthy. The real one calls you when you’re sick, when your kid’s in trouble or when there’s a death in the family.
VP Joe Biden said this:
The hardest thing is vouching. When you vouch for them you say “I’m putting my reputation on the line. I believe this person is a good person, has character.” You’re putting your rep on the line. You’re saying, “I think this person has character,” and that’s what I’m prepared to do for Hillary.
Here’s Michelle Obama, from her brilliant Democratic convention speech:
As my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth, a leader who is worthy of my girls’ promise and all our kids’ promise, a leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children. … We need to knock on every door, we need to get out every vote, we need to pour every last ounce of our passion and our strength and our love for this country into electing Hillary Clinton as president of the United States of America!
Finally, Morgan Freeman on whether Hillary has a trust issue: “Not with me she doesn’t.”
So how do these endorsements square with the myth that Hillary is untrustworthy and unlikable? Even if you discount the opinions of elected Democrats like the Obamas, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and John Lewis, you’re left with Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffett. (Not to mention Lilly Ledbetter, Dolores Huerta, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bernice King and nearly 16 million voters.)
So who should we trust to judge Hillary’s character: people like Bloomberg and Buffett or a motley crew of pundits, rightwing haters and internet trolls?
I think we all know the answer.