The Career Within You

Finding the perfect job for your personality

Hillary Clinton: Perfectionist

"Unshakable notion of right and wrong, borderline prudishness."

Hillary Clinton
Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele
Elizabeth Wagele
Ingrid Stabb and I list Hillary Clinton (born 1947), Secretary of State, as a Perfectionist in the Enneagram system for her history of reform and many of her other characteristics mentioned in this article. This is part of a series on famous types.

The following is excerpts from the article Mrs. Triangulation appeared in the New York Times October 2, 2005. Its author Matt Bai describes how Hillary had bounded onto the national stage 13 years previously as a combative emissary from her husband.

"... Hillary Clinton was probably never as dogmatic as her most ardent critics and supporters insisted she was. She did, after all, propose controversial education reform in Arkansas, where she picked a gratuitous and colossal fight with the teachers' union by demanding that teachers submit to testing. And she strongly lobbied liberal members of Congress to support her husband's crime bill, which expanded the federal death penalty, and supported his welfare-reform plan...

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Hillary's ideology is best understood through the prism of her upbringing. She was raised as a Republican and a devout Methodist in suburban Chicago, and these influences, particularly in the turbulence of the 60's, created two philosophical impulses that were commonly linked in that era. The first is an unshakable notion of right and wrong and an almost missionary zeal for imposing it on others, mainly through political action. The second is a strand of moral conservatism that borders on prudishness.

An aide from her Arkansas days recounted a scene in the Clinton kitchen, during the first presidential campaign, when 12-year-old Chelsea Clinton told her mother she intended to have her ears pierced. "Young lady, you are not going to poke holes in your head!" the future senator insisted. ...Paul Begala, who spent countless hours around the first lady in the White House, recalled ... she had a less permissive sensibility than her husband. "If I'm talking to James Carville or even Clinton," he said, referring to the former president, "the F-words are flying. It's not the same with her."

... Clinton called abortion "a sad, even tragic choice." She also said that she respected those who opposed abortion and that "there is an opportunity for people of good faith to find common ground in this debate." Coming at a time when Democrats were publicly beating their chests over their inability to articulate moral values, the speech was widely cited as proof that she was making a dash for the political center.... And she repeated her husband's formulation that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare." Of course, in 1999 nobody cared what she said to Naral. Now people do...

In 1993, in the pages of this magazine, Michael Kelly wrote what became a famous article about Hillary Clinton. The acid portrait, titled Saint Hillary and based largely on Clinton's own words, described a preachy first lady who believed, with astonishing self-certainty, that she could reform American politics by inflicting her own moral code on everyone else. "Who will lead us out of this spiritual vacuum?" Clinton had asked in a speech, and the answer, according to Kelly, was Hillary herself - with some help from the Ten Commandments. "In nearly every religion I am aware of, there is a variation of the golden rule," Clinton told him. "And even for the nonreligious, it is a tenet of people who believe in humanistic principles." At a time when the national debate centered on the projected size of a budget deficit, she sounded a little ridiculous."

 

Elizabeth Wagele is the co-author with Ingrid Stabb of The Career Within You: How to Find the Perfect Job for Your Personality.

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