In electoral politics, familiarity often breeds comfort. The more recognizable a politician is the more likely that politician can expect to enjoy a certain level of support from among his or her constituency. But when familiarity descends into overexposure it can constitute the tipping point upon which a politician’s appeal begins to wane.
This appears to be the conundrum facing Hillary Clinton in her build up to the 2016 presidential campaign season. Her noncommittal demeanor toward 2016 notwithstanding, there is not a pundit or voter from California to Maine that doesn’t fully expect the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State to aggressively pursue the Democratic nomination for the presidency.
But the tepid response Mrs. Clinton has received to some of her more recent attempts to generate publicity and support points to a public less inspired by thesui generis of her candidacy and instead growing tired of the omnipresent and clichéd Clinton dynasty.
The release of Mrs. Clinton’s much ballyhooed autobiography, Hard Choices, was expected to generate not only tremendous sales but also initiate a favorable public discourse highlighting her own, self perceived personal and political accomplishments.
Instead, a preview and promotion of the book caused a backlash among her critics, much of which was centered around her almost dogmatic adherence to a dubious YouTube video as the genesis of the attacks in Benghazi and her near laughable cries of poverty upon leaving the White House.
As the Washington Post noted, “So, yes, it is technically true the Clintons left office in debt. But, a year later, the couple's assets had soared.” Whatever debt the Clintons incurred while occupying the White House was quickly surmounted by the tremendous earning capacity of the former President and First Lady.
In fact, Mrs. Clinton was still receiving upwards of $200,000 per speech given after having left the State Department last year. Indeed, Mrs. Clinton’s notions of poverty and destitution are quite different than that of the average American.
Initial sales of her autobiography hasn’t demonstrated great interest among the public either. It was reported that only 60,000 hardcopies and 24,000 e-copies of Hard Choices were sold in the first week; a respectable number for the average author but far less than expected from a personage like Clinton (sources indicate that the publisher, Simon and Shuster, had hoped for first week sales closer to 150,000).
In another sign that the public has become weary of the Clinton political machine, a much hyped cable news interview featuring Mrs. Clinton failed to generate the level of viewership no doubt expected by Clinton and her supporters.
Clinton’s town-hall style interview with Christiane Amanpour, which aired this past Tuesday night on CNN, not only failed to win its time slot (placing a distant second to Fox’s The Five) but her numbers within the key 25-54 demographic (115k viewers) barely edged out the pitiable Ed Show on MSNBC (105k viewers).
When your highly promoted cable news interview on CNN barely squeaks past MSNBC you know you might have a problem.
All signs point to Clinton-fatigue having set in among the general public and it can be reasonably assumed that the same level of fatigue may ultimately affect voters at the ballot box as well. This more than any singular issue -and there are many- should concern Hillary Clinton.
The public is demonstrating through its lack of interest in Mrs. Clinton that her ascension to the Democratic nomination, or the Oval Office, is not a fait accompli. Twenty-plus years of near constant exposure has perhaps taken some of the sheen off of the Clinton mystique. Nobody is immune to overexposure, not even Hillary Clinton.