Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 00:56 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 00:56 | SYDNEY

Hillary: Wearing the face she keeps in a jar by the door


Sam Roggeveen


26 February 2008 10:20

I think one of the factors favouring Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton is his perceived authenticity. He seems natural and at ease with himself; she seems constructed and contrived. As David Brooks argued in Bobos in Paradise, a preference for authenticity or naturalness reflects a cultural tilt away from bourgeois norms, which emphasise refinement and cultivation.

Comparing the old bourgeois ruling class to its hybrid bourgeois-bohemian successor, Brooks says:

...they liked polish and high civilization. We like indigenous spirituality. They liked refined manners that demonstrated self-mastery. We like loose manners that demonstrate honesty. They made entertaining into a performance — the preparation was done by servants  somewhere in the dim recesses of the house. We invite our guests backstage into the kitchen and give them some vegies to chop.

You see it too in high-brow critics' preference for rock music over pop. The latter is a pure contrivance, while the former is seen as authentic artistic expression, and therefore superior. But rock authenticity is itself a contrivance, and I suspect the same is true of Obama. I don't mean to say he's deliberately faking it, but all our personalities are constructions to some degree. Obama is just the better actor.