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Thomas de Zengotita Headshot

Negative Charisma. Is That a Concept? Does Hillary Have It?

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I am one of those people who just can't warm up to Hillary. She grates on me. This is not about her politics. I happen to think that the Clintons were the worst thing that happened to what was left of the American Left in the last 40 years--but I've always liked Bill personally. In that "I would enjoy hanging out with this guy" kind of way. He's fun. He's full of life. I like him, but I just don't like her. It's to the point where I have trouble watching her, the relentless effort, the precision calibrations--she's so painstaking, it's painful. She has negative charisma.

I have examined my conscience and I detect no sign that my reaction is due to Powerful Woman Syndrome, a condition from which men in my demographic are reputed to suffer. Remember Jeane Kirkpatrick? Strong woman. I had a crush on her. Ditto Nancy Pelosi. But with Hillary, it's as if she's radiating some kind of negative force field. My eys keep sliding away. It's almost like I'm embarassed for her.

There was an unusually subtle piece in the NYTimes of March 6 by Mark Leibovich. It described Hillary campaigning. It focused on things like the way she signs her full name, "Hillary Rodham Clinton," on posters and papers as she works the crowds at her events. Where most politicos scrawl out some approximation of their signature in a second or two, she laboriously spells out each syllable, every letter--each i dotted and the t crossed. She does that every time she signs her name. Every time. Imagine that.

Other traits were mentioned. Her compulsive nodding, for example, with a clever little inventory of the types of nods. Overall, the piece provided me with an "ah hah, yes, that's it" experience.

I feel mean even mentioning such things. It's so trivial, I know, and I wouldn't do it if I didn't really believe that Hillary's negative charisma will play a major role in the election as it unfolds. Sort of like John Edwards' Breck girl hair in 2004. It didn't matter--but it did.

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