Clinton's Style Is Flexible, Haphazard

By Sperling, Godfrey | The Christian Science Monitor, June 7, 1994 | Go to article overview

Clinton's Style Is Flexible, Haphazard


Sperling, Godfrey, The Christian Science Monitor


A BIT of self-analysis by President Clinton is worth noting. "There's just something about me that infuriates people that aren't for me," he told Connie Bruck in her New Yorker profile of Hillary Rodham Clinton. "I've always had people that really loved me and people that really hated me," the president added. "And I'm used to it."

The president was being a little too hard on himself. Intense hate and anger were expressed by many Americans against Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Richard Nixon. But there isn't much real hatred of Mr. Clinton. His foes have a difficult time not liking this affable fellow even while they question his character and the direction he is taking the country.

But the president's use of "love" goes too far also. In my opinion, there have been only four presidents who stirred up a widespread feeling of deep personal attachment while in office: Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.

Just about everyone, even Eisenhower's severest critics, would say, "I like Ike." In fact, I just saw a small sign on the back of a new automobile declaring, "I still like Ike." And Reagan expressed a kind of benign warmth that disarmed his critics.

No, I didn't mistakenly leave out Harry Truman. He wasn't that much loved when he was president. The public warmth and appreciation for Truman that we see today has grown with the years.

Most people I talk to, even those who say they voted for Clinton, are taking a "wait and see" attitude toward him. They like his energy and his serious, hard-working efforts to bring about change. They find him personable. They like him, but one hears no permanent allegiance being expressed. I've yet to find anyone who calls himself a "Clinton Democrat" the way people quickly began to identify themselves as Roosevelt Democrats or Eisenhower Republicans.

This is early in the Clinton administration. He still has plenty of time to win committed supporters and, yes, even widespread expressions of love. …

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