By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Besides, Hillary isn’t a monster. She’s a Clinton, which isn’t quite the same thing. Being a Clinton means, of course, winning at all costs. Execute the retarded guy? Sure. Sign off on welfare reform you don’t believe in? Hand me the pen. Suggest that McCain’s more qualified to be president than your Democratic opponent who you cannot quite swear isn’t a Muslim? I’m Hillary Clinton and I approve this message.
If Barack is the latest avatar of JFK, history has cast Hillary as his Nixon. Although she is smart as heck and knows her stuff — only fools and bigots think her unqualified to be president — she’s an uninspired campaigner who engenders more irrational loathing in her detractors than heartfelt love in her supporters. Stunned to be losing to a lightweight who hasn’t paid his dues, she believes the media have been out to get her. And she’s not wrong. She’s routinely sneered at by everyone from columnist Maureen Dowd, the queen of catty nihilism, to all those TV news guys who’ve had a man-crush on cool kid Barack. (I keep wishing Obama would just bang Chris Matthews so the poor, love-struck sap could get back to his wife and kids.)
My kid sister calls the coverage of Hillary “Katrina for women” — meaning it’s exposed the shocking level of sexism still at work in our culture. Indeed, whole dissertations on misogyny could be written about the naked glee with which MSNBC’s liberal newsmen (even Keith Olbermann, for crying out loud) sat eagerly waiting for the New Hampshire results to bury her. But pop culture giveth and taketh away. The whole election may have been transformed by the return of Saturday Night Live, which launched the current cycle of sympathetic Hillary news stories.
Not that Hillary makes it easy to like her. Perpetually believing herself the aggrieved party, she has no qualms about being intellectually dishonest (grumbling about “undemocratic” caucuses only after you start losing them), acting graceless in defeat (pointedly failing to mention Obama’s primary victories, let alone congratulate him, in election-night speeches), or playing fast and loose with the rules. It’s no accident that she was the only Democrat not to take her name off the Michigan ballot, and no surprise that she now insists she should receive the delegates she “won.” But playing dirty doesn’t hurt a Clinton the way it would Obama, whose people have to worry about seeming to cry race over Geraldine Ferraro’s remarks. After all, people expect, and some secretly respect, the Clinton ruthlessness. They live in the real world. They play for keeps.
In any case, Hillary has no choice. It’s the sad irony of this gifted woman’s career that, because of her history with Bill, addiction to big money and self-serving vote on the Iraq war, the first female candidate with a real shot at the White House can’t make the idea of her presidency seem groundbreaking and new. (If she gets elected, though, it’ll suddenly feel epochal.) When she tried to run a positive campaign, she kept losing. What restored her fortunes in Ohio and Texas was her appeal to our cynicism, her suggestion that deep down, Obama is as dirty, dishonest and unreliable as every other politician. Cue the Eliot Spitzer tape.
“We’re all hustling scum,” her campaign now tacitly says, “so, why not vote for the one who has the best health plan and has already survived the Republican attack machine?”
Not a message to inspire the young, I grant you, but it may prove the right one — for winning game six, anyway.