New York Times columnist David Brooks asks, Why is Hillary Clinton so unpopular? His unlikely answer: She doesn’t have hobbies.
Clinton was very popular as secretary of state—a 66 percent approval rating!—and not very popular now. Some might argue that’s because she’s back in partisan politics. Others might point to social science research that shows women are punished for the way they talk, for showing anger, for not wearing makeup, for not showing warmth, for acting authoritatively, etc—you know, all the sexist stuff. Not David Brooks. He writes:
Can you tell me what Hillary Clinton does for fun? We know what Obama does for fun—golf, basketball, etc. We know, unfortunately, what Trump does for fun.
But when people talk about Clinton, they tend to talk of her exclusively in professional terms.
More in sorrow than in anger, Brooks diagnoses the problem: “Clinton’s unpopularity is akin to the unpopularity of a workaholic.” In the informal social media era, she doesn’t talk about her softer side. “[I]t’s doubly important that people with fulfilling vocations develop, and be seen to develop, sanctuaries outside them: in play, solitude, family, faith, hobbies and leisure.”
Just one weird trick (hobbies) to regain the adoration of the public. Of course, in the social media era, one weird trick always has a catch. In this case, the catch would be more David Brooks columns.
So let’s imagine some hobbies Hillary Clinton could take up—and the scolding, moralizing David Brooks columns that would inevitably result.
Future Hillary hobby: A chatty podcast with her friends.
Future Brooks column: “Another tone-deaf decision by Clinton (or, more likely, her aides). They are seemingly unaware the vast majority of Americans do not listen to vocally fried podcasts on subway rides from their pleasant Park Slope apartments, but plainspoken drive-time radio spoken from the heart. And furthermore this ‘hobby’ brings up uncomfortable associations for Clinton with financial misdeeds, as countless podcasts are kept afloat by unsavory subscription companies that use auto-billing to prey on consumers who can’t be bothered to closely check their statements. No wonder Americans are in so much debt. But they owe Hillary nothing.”
Future Hillary hobby: Improv.
Future Brooks column: “In perhaps the darkest hour in the history of the republic, Hillary Clinton expects us to laugh. It is unsettling to see a presidential candidate giggling like a schoolgirl over some Justin Bieber reference as the entire Middle East burns. Serious times call for serious candidates, Madame Secretary.”
Future Hillary hobby: Adult coloring books.
Future Brooks column: “Yet another example of liberals’ sad infantilization of the American public, ever the Mommy Party forcing us to sign up for health insurance and creating ‘safe spaces.’ Coloring in the lines? Typical Hillary.”
Future Hillary hobby: Home brewing.
Future Brooks column: “While she remains desperate to reach out to the common man, she can’t help but wallow in coastal liberals’ corrosive commodification of the working class. Here’s a tip, Hillary: Want to drink a beer like an authentic white man, one who works with his hands? The kind who has grease stains on his plaid shirt, woven in a rustic fabric? Drink a Lite Coors.”
Future Hillary hobby: Colorguard.
Future Brooks column: “Who could have imagined a year ago we’d be witness to the ludicrous spectacle of Hillary Clinton prancing about a football field and twirling a purple flag? The whole stunt is a disaster. And it’s doubly bad for Clinton, as it recalls uncomfortable associations with Obama’s failed foreign policy. Why not wave a white flag of surrender?”
Future Hillary hobby: 3-D printing.
Future Brooks column: “Americans are tired of distractions. Elections are about ideas. They are hard-fought battles of intellect and ideology—the stuff that actually matters. Blah blah moral seriousness.”