The Importance of Emotional Intelligence: Hillary’s Sad and Disappointing Presidential Campaign

Some readers may recall an early September pre-publication commentary first appearing in “The Philadelphia Inquirer,” where I expressed my hopes for What Happened. Very sadly my hopes crashed,, and I want to explain why.  Please read on, even if you are sick of hearing about Hillary and her book.  I think my focus will offer a different take.

You see, I wanted Hillary to use her book to talk to us honestly about her campaign -- her detractors, of course, which she did focus on (often in excruciating detail), but also the lapses she and her campaign leadership were responsible for.  For example, personal polling was stopped a month before the election.  Why?

Through building this trust with us, her leadership direction in how to deal with our exceedingly dangerous, complicated present would have been carefully listened to, even, I believe, by many of those who did not support her.  This would have been especially true of women, who could have assured Hillary’s victory, but whose support was disappointingly low. The ability to communicate in this way rests with trusted connection, a hallmark of “emotional intelligence.” 

Those with emotional intelligence know how to navigate the slippery slopes of life through sincere communication with others.  Through their mutual, trusted connections they often reach their goals.  Or if goals are denied, which is frequently the case since life is not fair, those with emotional intelligence learn from the experience, and are then able to offer important insights and direction to others. Sadly, however, What Happened offers the best possible explanation of what “emotional intelligence” is not. 

 After my commentary was published, I received close to 100 emails from readers throughout our country, which fell into three camps:  those who never would have voted for Hillary, those who worked for her victory with every fiber of their being and were furious at a poorly run campaign, and those who asked for a clearer definition of “emotional intelligence,” with examples.

Three examples follow, each underscoring the kind of missed opportunity that would lead to non-flinching loyalty of women, regardless of  a candidate’s detractors. (Do remember:  It was women’s compassion for Hillary when Monica Lewinsky came into her life that humanized her to many, leading to her senate victory.  We “got” her pain; it hit home.) 

  1. When Hillary was ill and went to her daughter Chelsea’s to rest, rather than distance herself from us, if she had told us that she had pneumonia, appreciated our concern, which would surely help her recovery, women would have been deeply moved by her truth and her trust.  In discussing this incident in her book, Hillary held on to a wall around her, showing resentment of the intrusion of her privacy.
  2.  When her husband cornered Attorney General Loretta Lynch on her plane, Hillary uses What Happened to lay all blame Jim Comey.  (Yes, Comey proved a horror to Hillary, but he did not instigate this event.) As presidential candidate, women would have rallied around Hillary if she had apologized for poor judgment and shown regret, confiding:  “As you can well imagine, Bill and I had a bad night when I learned of this.  I apologize for both of us – this conversation was especially unfair to Attorney General Lynch.”
  3. In Hillary’s personal email fiasco, consider the difference an immediate apology would have made, rather than stone-walling until an apology seemed insincere and contrived.  Women would have identified with Hillary had she spoken of all of the moving parts in her life that propelled her to take a very wrong short cut. (Once in my kitchen preparing for a dinner party I became so distracted by an overdue report  that I put rubber bands, rather than noodles, in the chicken soup.  Don’t ask!  And you?), In her book we read a 32 page defense of her actions.  She calls her decision “dumb” but explains that others did it, and it is still being done.