We live in a transparent and authentic age, although very few of our politicians are perceived as being either transparent or authentic.
I think that’s one of the reasons why there is so much distrust of our political system. People think they are being lied to by the politicians and they are usually correct.
Of course, for many voters, this is an exercise in self-delusion. They simply don’t want to know the truth or at least acknowledge it.
Barack Obama, when he ran for president, was the first to understand this dynamic. His book laid out all of his secrets, in plain sight, for all to see. And in that book, we discovered that he did cocaine, probably hung out with a communist organizer, and did a bunch of other stuff that would have disqualified any other presidential contender.
The media liked Obama’s honesty, generally agreed with his philosophy, and propelled him to the White House. He was seen as transparent and authentic, although these days, we all look like the suckers. There is nothing transparent about this White House.
Jeb Bush is running both as authentic leader and as somebody who is completely transparent. That’s why he released all of those e-mails, detailing his life as governor, to start his campaign. He is letting it all hang out.
Bush is also winning kudos for not playing to his audiences, telling them only what they want to hear. He is more than willing to mix it up with his critics on the right, walking into the Lion’s Den at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, for example, and enduring walkouts and catcalls, eventually winning over a huge portion of the crowd.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has a reputation of being anything but transparent. The latest revelations about her hidden e-mails only cement the suspicion that she is hiding something about herself.
Hillary’s reputation for hiding things was cast during her years as the first lady, where she led the charge in attacking her husband’s critics.
During her first campaign for president, she ran a tactical campaign, meant to cast her as a centrist. It was inauthentic and while she was able to come close by winning in states that had little interest in electing Obama, she never really ran on her own reputation.
Her most spirited supporters may be Ready for Hillary, but until she dispenses with her habit of hiding her true self from the American people, I don’t think anybody else will be.
John Feehery publishes his Feehery Theory blog at http://www.thefeeherytheory.com/.