Friday, March 28, 2008

The Relentlessly Political Life

David Brooks's characterization of the "relentlessly political life" (Hillary Clinton's in particular, but it could be any number of others) struck me as useful to any student of politics:

For nearly 20 years, she has been encased in the apparatus of political celebrity. ...Think of the thousands of staged events, the tens of thousands of times she has pretended to be delighted to see someone she doesn’t know, the hundreds of thousands times she has recited empty clich├ęs and exhortatory banalities, the millions of photos she has posed for in which she is supposed to appear empathetic or tough, the billions of politically opportune half-truths that have bounced around her head. No wonder the Clinton campaign feels impersonal.
Politicians aren't like us. They want us to think that they are, but they're not. They can't be. Democratic politics does things to office seekers and to offfice holders. Certainly there are exceptions, but there is no way of changing what they have to be and what they become on account of the democratic process. What the democratic citizen can do, however, is be aware of what is going on between vote seeker and voter, and be vigilant without becoming cynical.

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