David Brooks attempts to answer the question in his column today. In typical Brooksian fashion, his answer weaves together politics and pop sociology; it is an attempt to not only explain this facet of Clinton, but also explore the way we live now. So the reason Hillary is so unpopular is that she’s a workaholic and doesn’t seem to have any fun outside work. “It’s hard from the outside to have a sense of her as a person; she is a role,” he writes. This is especially a turn-off in our age of social media, “which is intimate, personalist, revealing, trusting, and vulnerable.” Clinton, in contrast, comes off as “Machiavellian, crafty, power-oriented, untrustworthy.”
Brooks actually comes closer to the mark when he notes that Clinton’s favorability was once at a sky-high 66 percent, when she was secretary of state. The explanation for the stark reversal can be more reasonably attributed to her new status as a partisan figure, plus the fact that she is still in the process of winning over supporters of Bernie Sanders.
But the most curious part of Brooks’s analysis is when he compares Clinton to Donald Trump. “Can you tell me what Hillary Clinton does for fun?” he writes. “We know what Obama does for fun—golf, basketball, etc. We know, unfortunately, what Trump does for fun.” But do we? Besides golf, it seems Trump’s whole existence is devoted to furthering his narcissistic ambitions. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t read books. He doesn’t particularly enjoy the rituals of fatherhood. Even his super-model girlfriends and wives seem more like props that serve as proof of his success, not outlets for diversionary lust. And yet, strangely, no one is attributing his similarly high unfavorable ratings to his working too much.