Of Two Minds on Hillary Clinton

Why I'm straddling the fence about my favorite Clinton.

Nearly four of every 10 Americans say they "definitely" won't vote for Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic nomination, according to a Bloomberg Politics poll, roughly the same number (35 percent) who "definitely" or "probably" will support her. That leaves 25 percent who "might or might not voter for her."

Undecided. Up for grabs. On the fence. Whatever cliché you assign to it, I'm part of the one-fourth coalition—millions of Americans who, despite everything we know about Clinton (strike that: because of everything we know about her), are of two minds.

Mind 1: Outside the public eye, she seems funny, warm, smart, vulnerable, and authentic. An Everywoman. When will she show America the real Hillary?

Mind 2: The public eye is the only one we've got. What it sees is forced and guarded, and there's that gnawing sense of entitlement exhibited in her paid speeches, conflicts of interest, and email shenanigans. A pol. What if this is the real Hillary?

Mind 1: She is a trailblazer, an accomplished advocate on behalf of children, women, and middle-class families. Her political enemies turned an ill-fated land deal into a fishing expedition and would stop at nothing to destroy her. She's a role model for our daughters and granddaughters.

Mind 2: We can't trust her. A majority of Americans, including 60 percent of all independents and 26 percent of Democrats, believe she has purposefully withheld State Department emails or deleted them. Remember: cattle futures, the White House travel-office firings, and the missing Rose Law Firm files. Unethical or just paranoid? That could be a distinction without much difference.

Mind 1: The Clinton Foundation is an important global charity.

Mind 2: The Clinton Foundation is a shadow campaign awash in conflicts of interest.

Mind 1: She launched her second presidential campaign with a slick "Getting Started" video that suggests she has finally figured out the secret to Bill Clinton's political success: Putting people first.

Mind 2: Nice ad.

Mind 1: She's driving to Iowa with pal Huma Abedin to remind herself that campaigns are supposed to be nimble, gritty, and even fun. Start slow and safe, mingling with people without the media around, and maybe she won't be so tight. Maybe she can develop Bill Clinton's greatest political gift: fearlessness. He never worried about making a mistake.

Mind 2: She worries. And that's why she makes so many damn mistakes.

Mind 1: Having covered Bill and Hillary Clinton since the mid-1980s, I've long considered her to be the more interesting and engaging Clinton. While Bill's charisma and conversation-hogging monologues can grow wearisome in large doses, her personality wears well. He's easy to read, a man of insatiable appetite. She's complicated. Give me a choice between two Clintons as a dinner guest: Hands down, Hillary.

Mind 2: Maybe's she has changed. It has been years since I've had regular contact with her. Maybe I've changed.

Mind 1: I've long thought she'd be the better President Clinton. For all of Bill's political talents, Hillary has certain attributes I suspected would serve her well in office: linear thinking, discipline, determination, and an uncanny ability to inspire loyalty.

Mind 2: Maybe I was wrong.

For some, the choices are binary: Hillary is great or Hillary is grating. Count me in the one-fourth coalition: Hillary is getting a second look.