When I lived in Minneapolis I used to gripe about “Minnesota Nice” by quoting the lines from Sondheim’s Into the Woods:
You’re so nice.
You’re not good,
You’re not bad,
You’re just nice.
Fake, I’d mutter, it’s all so fake. Nice is overrated.
Now, I have since come around somewhat to the notion of ‘It’s nice to be nice’, but only somewhat, and not particularly in politics.
Oh, sure, avoid, as Machiavelli warned, being hated (something Ted Cruz couldn’t manage to do), but virtù beats nice every time.
Thus, Hillary Clinton should take to heart the next lines—
I’m not good,
I’m not nice,
I’m just right.
—and go full hard-ass on the road.
Now, I do understand that Clinton has the reputation of being great one-on-one: warm, gracious, attentive, and wonderful at drawing people in. In front of a crowd, however, she lacks the looseness which would ingratiate her to that crowd. She’s fine, she rarely messes up, but she also rarely inspires or impresses.
So she should stop trying to impress anyone, and just go full on “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and I am all out of bubblegum.”
As to her opponent, well, Trump is a bullshitter, and as I’ve noted a couple of times previously, it is tremendously hard to respond to or pin any kind of responsibility on a bullshitter. Instead of going after the bullshitter—which forces you on to his territory—you just reject him outright.
You say “Nah”, and refuse to engage; roll your eyes and laugh; toss his words back at him with a heaping dose of “really?”
The great strength of the bullshitter is the unwillingness to take anything seriously; it is also a weakness which can be turned against him.
So Clinton should go full “No Bullshit”. It gives her a way to blunt Trump’s mad libs, and coolly to deride his seriousness while signalling her own, very serious, approach to politics.
It also allows her to admit “Nope, I’m probably not going to bring tears to your eyes, but you can bet your sweet bippy that Imma get the job done.”
And that might actually impress.
(ETA: credit for Into the Woods lyrics)