NEW YORK – Hillary Clinton is annoying people again. Recently, she said in an interview that she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House. This led to unhelpful headlines such as “Bill Clinton: Hillary Is ‘Not Out of Touch.’” The gaffe also opened the door for Republican attacks – this being a standard campaign strategy that has dogged wealthy major-party candidates (as they all are) since George H.W. Bush was astonished by a grocery scanner.
You would think that Clinton, the first wife and mother to have a good shot at being America’s next president, would easily pass the “relatability” test. But last weekend, she did it again, telling The Guardian that, “unlike a lot of people who are truly well off,” she and her husband “pay ordinary income tax,” and that their wealth came only “through dint of hard work.”
Clinton’s supporters are right to worry about her nails-on-blackboard elitism. Her presumptive candidacy’s trump card is supposed to be her advantage among critically important women voters – the deciding factor for Democrats in national elections. Had Al Gore maintained her husband’s high margin among women in the presidential elections of 1992 and 1996, the Supreme Court would not have decided his 2000 election fight with George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton has raised millions on the premise that she can restore the Democrats’ traditional advantage.
But most of the women sought as voters are not corporate attorneys or secretaries of state. The gender gap that has benefited the Democratic Party is attributable mainly to struggling working-class and pink-collar women; someone on Clinton’s staff needs to tell her to stop offending them.