Are the personality traits of presidential candidates important in the final analysis?
It occurred to me the other day that I’ll very likely end up voting for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election despite the fact that her personality holds no great appeal for me.
After all, I like to consider myself old enough and wise enough to distinguish superficial personality impressions from positions on issues that really matter. It’s pretty much a lead-pipe cinch that Hillary’s stances on the issues will be preferable to those of any Republican rival for the presidency.
In a general sense, my attitude is mirrored by the points made today in THIS COLUMN by Paul Krugman:
Personality-based political analysis is always a dubious venture — in my experience, pundits are terrible judges of character. Those old enough to remember the 2000 election may also remember how we were assured that George W. Bush was a nice, affable fellow who would pursue moderate, bipartisan policies.
In any case, there has never been a time in American history when the alleged personal traits of candidates mattered less. As we head into 2016, each party is quite unified on major policy issues — and these unified positions are very far from each other. The huge, substantive gulf between the parties will be reflected in the policy positions of whomever they nominate, and will almost surely be reflected in the actual policies adopted by whoever wins.