One reluctantly knocks the political wizardry of HBO’s Bill Maher. And yet, how rude: telling his party’s heir apparent, Hillary Clinton, to take a hike, in fact, a year off from publicity: “Just go away.” Uh oh, here’s a hugely visible Democratic donor scolding the era’s ultimate career politician — though the chance of Hillary (HC) abandoning her paid PR campaign/celebrity book-tour, let alone her White House run, hovers above absolute zero. Her entire schtick is perseverance personified.
Is Maher aware he’s messing with the substratum of the plutocratic universe, as dramatized by the movie, Network, disturbing the “ecological balance” of the “primal forces of nature,” disrupting the “one holistic system of systems.” How many on-target advisers, let alone stand-up comics, get to tell off the Clintons and are standing for ovations? Aside from the mundanity of governing the country, imagine how Hillary’s election crowns the glory of this royal family, a peerless pinnacle to an historic public legacy.
Winning goes beyond her triumph as the first woman president: here’s the first presidential couple to top the lists of lists. Hear the chuckling from these slick, hit-the-jackpot hustlers when they blast past that two-term Constitutional inconvenience. Here’s true, up-from-the-bootstraps exceptionalism, with a vengeance, and in our own time. Write off the boring Bushes, here’s the real, one-on-one face-off with the Kennedys, greatest of our royal clans, though alas tabulating not even one full presidency.
Advice Falling on Deaf, Tin Ears
The good news for Clinton objectors is that Maher’s warning shots, and far better advice, will fall on deaf, tin ears. Only destiny and higher powers, as in Greek tragedies, thwarts the Clintons’ high drama. Right off, Maher ignores what makes Hillary run: not great legislative feats, nor leading great reform movements, nor diplomatic breakthroughs (conspicuous in HC by their absence) but unshaken, unmatched, gritty endurance. Standing alone (well, near Bubba), Hillary’s raison d’être is simple: be tough enough to tough out the toughest times. Sounds downright Churchillian. Who else triumphed as the victim of a philandering governor, then as long-suffering wife of a philandering president? Who survived decades as long-time prey of the vast, right wing conspiracy which, lacking the viciousness of Obamabashing, commands greater duration?
And who will certainly persevere through every Benghazi farce, coming to rival the charade parade of 40 anti-health care House votes. Grit and never giving up are all Hillary has to sell: she could just as likely withdraw from the fray as stand by genuine progressive principles. Here in the making is not just the first woman president but our first military chieftain who doesn’t have to wear pants — the warrier queen ready to fight to the death. Well, like all politicians, not exactly to her death, but only the disgrace of another lost national election stops the hard-boiled, verbally pugnacious Madame Secretary from rising to fierce Commandress-in-chief.
Hillary as Biblical Job
If there’s one champion from the single most “influential” book that “guides” her every thought processes (in her own words, the Bible, no, not Machiavelli’s The Prince), thy name is Job, the epitome of never giving up – and that mythic model of virtue faced an even vaster, heavyweight conspiracy. Actually, Job not only had higher moral principles, but a whole lot more earthly achievements. Let that bide. Is not high ambition, and the quest to explode the ultimate glass ceiling, sufficient virtue for HC? Do not the Clintons do whoever they must to win popularity, thus Andrew Sullivan’s quip they poll-test “where to go on vacation”?
Etiquette aside, Maher’s pertinent advice is prudent when tallying HC’s array of unforced gaffes in but a few weeks (noted below). “People say Hillary being out there on her book tour talking about this stuff, it’s going to inoculate her,” intoned Maher, but there’s a “fine line between inoculate and we’re sick of you . . . We’re going to see each other. In a couple of years, a lot. Just go away. Because otherwise you’re going to blow this.”
Now here’s your post-modern test: can the world’s most visible woman politician get too much exposure? Does she not obey Oscar Wilde’s dictum, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”? She won’t be deterred even when blunders lower last year’s 60% approvals (when leaving State) to the current 50%. Polls still award her 7 of 10 Democratic primary voters. That will change.
But here’s the charm for progressives: Hillary is her own worst enemy, as we learned in ’08: few stars put out their own lights like her own dismal campaigns. Call me contrarian, but I say: let Hillary run, let her boast about jailing Edward Snowden while defending spying overreach. Let her support the disgraced Egyptian boss, Mubarek. Let her demonstrate unpleasant kinships to Romney’s theory of wealth, drawn to equate the best people with the highest salaries and highest earthly goods. No paired public entrepreneurs know better how to leverage political capital into cash capital and live the high life while pitching poor, ill-fed minorities. Bill Clinton’s Foundation spends $1.2 million dollars annually just for his travel, enough per week to feed and house many families of four.
Advice HC will Follow
If, like millions, you view another Clinton presidency with horror, join our chorus: “Defy Maher. Stay the course, Hillary, never say die, never stop equating politics with never-ending campaigning, punctuated by gaffes and expensive speeches to the fattest of cats.” I say: let the nation learn early, rather than too late, who lurks behind the HC mask. We learn so much more from her gaffes than anything else. Remember, here’s a weak public campaigner who’s never won a close election. Perhaps she won’t repeat the ’08 blunders that let a neophyte with a funny name out-hustle her. Perhaps she won’t duplicate her sub-par Secretary of State time, with the dubious prize of clocking more air miles while notching fewer lasting, diplomatic wins. No overseas region is healthier since ‘08; most are worse, some much worse.
Few leftists posit HC an improvement over the dismal Obama. She is less likely to offset Bush’s reign of Constitutional errors, less likely to demilitarize overseas belligerence, not even reverse the appalling right wing lurch.We shifted from government as the “problem” now to the “enemy” of the people. If HC wins, brace for “audacity of the status quo” and the gruesome projection Bush II (Obama) becomes Bush III, inflicting further blows on what President Carter bemoans as our unhealthy democracy.
Pool Resources: Save America
Yes, I dread HC taking over for Obama, worsened if she wins a landslide “mandate” (not impossible if the GOP idiotically runs Rand Paul or Ted Cruz). I’d have to refigure my criticism of overwrought, the “end is nigh” Chicken Littles. For liberal and moderate millions mystified how the “populist” Obama so badly lost his way, failing to lead his own party, leverage the bully pulpit, or commandeer Congress (and Washington), then wilting under right wing threats, HC will only add to general befuddlement.
It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of the restoration required were the next president to combine the worst of Dubya with the worst of Obama. Thus, whatever obstacles block the “inevitability” of HC earn my hearty approval. If this country could clear the Democratic deck, then electable candidates with more credibility and speaking for a wider constituency would certainly emerge. Now that would elevate 2016 to the legendary status we hear every election: “this one really matters.” Let us pray HC stays the course and ignores Maher’s friendly warning. Otherwise, the sky will start to fall and the flooding begin.
Notes on unforced blunders, spotlighting the tin-ear Hillary:
- Asserting she and Bill were “dead broke” after 2000, despite quickly accepting an $8 million book advance, plus anticipating the whopping $16 million in federal pension/office support funding paid since ’01. Somehow, family income just happen to add $200 million to the baseline. Minimum wage slaves, are you listening?
- Afterwards, HC compounded this gaffe by claiming their $100 million+ net worth hardly qualifies them as “truly well off” (what, egads, vs. only billionaire buddies?). Travel expenses paid by the Clinton foundation top $50 million since 2003, the non-profit’s tax forms reveal, and Bill the “not truly well off” spends $1.2 million per year on travel. When ultimately scrutinized, the Clinton Foundation promises many more embarrassments to come.
- HC’s awkwardly defensive, even aggressive responses to NPR’s Terry Gross plausible question about gay marriage, whether she “evolved” on her own (a word she used later) or followed public opinion. Only by 2013, with great fanfare, did HC support untarnished gay marriage.
- Embarrassing, tin-ear brouhaha over accepting $225K fee from UNLV (a public institution with students loaded to the gills with debt); oh, the money goes to the Clinton Foundation (nothing to do with family, after all). This unforced error prompted Nevada’s most visible TV journalist to deliver a fearsome rant.
- Weak PR responses. Failure to vigorously attack Karl Rove’s devilish lunacy about “brain damage” from a blood clot after a concussion. Why haven’t her allies slammed the Benghazi nonsense as utter chicanery from the right wing smear machine?
- Bad press. Comments from MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, HC lacks “self-awareness” and is “out of touch despite all of her work and all of her connection to hardworking people in the middle class.” Ditto, MSNBC’s Morning Joe depiction of HC as “clumsy and “never going to be a great candidate,” adding Republicans have less to fear than “a month ago” as one doesn’t mind running “against a clunky candidate that’s carrying around that dynasty level.”
- The Atlantic’s Conor Firedersdorf, with an unflattering comparison of HC to Russ Feingold: “Democrats can tell themselves it’s inevitable that their nominee will be a Patriot Act-supporting, mass-surveillance-enabling hawk who opposed gay marriage throughout the years when it mattered most, still favors the death penalty, and would re-enter the White House having cozied up particularly close to Big Finance.”
- Robert Scheer’s scathing attack on HC’s contempt for Snowden and denial of revealing State Dept. doings.