Consider Hillary Clinton. She recently appeared in a Saturday Night Live skit as a bartender, dispensing drinks and mindless chatter to a fake version of herself (played by Kate McKinnon).
Mrs Clinton and her team seem to have identified the likeability gap as crucial to this, her second, attempt to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for president and ultimately, to get to the White House on her own steam, not as a spouse.
Accordingly, as Quartz has reported, she’s done some jolly things to get people to see just how likeable she is – she’s impersonated Donald Trump, poked good natured fun at herself and so on.
The Quartz piece asks an interesting question. Why should Mrs Clinton – easily the most experienced, if not the most intelligent – candidate need to be likeable?
The problem is it’s just not believable.
But is that, asks Quartz, because she’s a woman and we have different expectations of women politicians? It quotes a Pew report from earlier this year, which found that female politicians are measured according to the same standards as their male counterparts with regard to qualities such as intelligence. But, said the report, women still have to do more than men to prove themselves. Fair enough. Or rather, unfair enough. But I wonder if the fact that Mrs Clinton has had to work so hard (and consistently) is the reason she’s not considered likeable?
Quartz says that “while in someone else this might indicate persistence or strength (take Bernie Sanders, who’s served in Washington since 1990) critics dismiss Hillary as being overly ambitious, for ‘wanting it too badly’.”
Honestly, I don’t think so. It’s more likely that Mrs Clinton is just a little less likeable than she should be.
Or could be.
And I don’t think that’s because she’s had to lead a life focused and unremitting toil.