In the entertainment industry, of which politics is undoubtedly a part and shares some eerie similarities to the glitzy cult of personalities, there is that intangible quality that has been said to make a star. That thing. It. Pizazz. Or quite commonly, the X-Factor. Sort of a conglomeration of likability, charisma and talent, the X-Factor can separate good from great, memorable from mundane, pleasant from ghastly. Think Kennedy vs. Nixon, 1960.
Sadly, in many cases, this characteristic can be of greater significance than either achievement or practical ability to do the job at hand. But people like to see people succeed whom they like to like. And they watch, and elect, those individuals who come across as sincere, personable, likable and genuine. The kind of people that, no matter how far fetched this scenario might be, would come over for a beer and brat, or hummus and wine if you prefer.
On the other foot, people hate feeling duped and cannot abide being lied to. (again see Nixon, 1974) We despise those who are disingenuous and, the majority of the time, the majority will turn away from those ineffectual leaders towards the ones that make us smile. This introduces, while perhaps not a polar opposite, a counter to the X-Factor:
The Phony Factor.
Think back on previous presidents and the opposing, inevitably losing candidate of the other party:
Barack Obama vs. John McCain- one was fresh, new, black, hip and ostensibly intelligent and completely devoted to his desire to transform the United States. The other was John McCain.
-Mitt Romney fared little better as he never quite seemed to embrace, or at least find peace with the charge before him. I think he wanted to be president, and for the right reasons, but the environment in which he had to operate was simply outside of his capability.
W. vs. Gore- the election was a coin toss and at the time, either one was X or Phony at any given time. As the years have gone on, W. has become much more likable (any doubters can watch this) but as of the election, both were rather “meh.”
John Kerry vs. W.- Good old lurch barely looks comfortable in his suits, let alone his own skin, and couldn’t get much more than the anti-Bush crowd, which just wasn’t enough.
Bill Clinton vs. Bob Dole- need I say more.
Bush 41 had exposed Michael Dukakis as a bleeding heart that endangered the public to secure his first term but for the second he had to combat both a charismatic Clinton and his own “read my lips” faux pas. Too much to handle for the father.
And then there’s Ronald Reagan. Mr. X-Factor who took all but Minnesota (his opponent Walter Mondale’s home state) to win his second term. Morning in America was ubiquitous.
Which brings us to the epitome of the phony factor:
Hillary Rodham Clinton
I will go out on a limb here, so far out from the election, and say, with no equivocation:
Hillary Clinton will NOT be President of the United States.
She is simply too phony. She stereotypically lives a life of public service which has amassed her family hundreds of millions of dollars. She has been the First Lady, a Senator, the Secretary of State and yet clings to a message that she will reform Washington. Why would she? It made her who she is, with her style of success only possible in such a back-scratching, tit-for-tat, $200,000-500,000 per speaking engagement environment.
Her disconnect from reality is mystifying and yet entirely expected in the cynical realm of politics today. Joel Gehrke at National Review writes, “Clinton noted that small business creation has “stalled out,” to her chagrin. “I was very surprised to see that when I began to dig into it,” she said while campaigning in New Hampshire. “Because people were telling me this as I traveled around the country the last two years, but I didn’t know what they were saying and it turns out that we are not producing as many small businesses as we use to.”
Again, First Lady, Senator, Sec. of State… and she didn’t know??? And this is just a smidgeon of the say anything mentality that will drive this election cycle. She has such contempt for the “regular” beneath her, and she isn’t even aware of it. That’s what Rumsfeld would call an “Unknown, unknown.”
Just take the test, which I will admit is less objective and more mystical that I generally purport to be, but ask yourself: Phony or Real? Genuine or Fake? Deep down, we know it to be true. Hillary is a big faker, who was born in the 40s and claimed for years that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary who climbed Everest in 1953. Why? Because she will say anything and doesn’t believe that we the people, and especially the Democratic Party, will see through it.
But we, of all political bents, don’t like fakers in the White House.