Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets supporters at George Washington University in Washington on June 13, 2014.
Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Let Me Finish: Hillary Clinton’s listening trip

Let me finish with Hillary’s listening trip to Iowa and why it will do her good.

The fact is, great politicians are great listeners. Or is it the other way around?

People who listen to other people become popular people. They become popular because everyone likes to be heard and likes the people who truly listen to them.

This is powerful stuff when you consider it.

When Bill Clinton was at Oxford on his Rhodes Scholarship, a classmate was having a hard time getting to first base with his girlfriend. She just wasn’t that into him.

So he went to Bill Clinton for advice.

And Bill certainly came through.

“Did you ever try listening? People like it when you to listen to them.”

It worked, apparently.

And this is what you call political retail, the ability to win over to your side one person at a time.

I remember when my Aunt Eleanor, now in her 90s, up at St. Joseph Villa outside Philadelphia, came to see my boss Speaker Tip O’Neill back in the 1980s. She and some other sisters of St. Joseph were lobbying Congress for social programs for poor people.

“How long you been out of the habit?” Tip roared when he came in and saw her. This woman had been in the convent since she was a teenager back in the 1940s.

Tip was showing an interest in that life-changing moment when religious sisters converted from their traditional habit to dressing much like everyone else.

“How long you been out of the habit?”

Yes, it was a odd phrase, kind of a double entendre, but that made it all the more cheerful a greeting. He was showing curiosity about what another person had been through in life.

In politics, curiosity doesn’t kill the cat; it kills the “distance” between people.

And the more Hillary Clinton goes out there and listens, the more she will learn not just what people care about – but how they say it.

The more she sounds like those “everyday” people she wants to champion, the more they are going to cheer her.

Hardball Let Me Finish

Let Me Finish: Hillary Clinton's listening trip