Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Hillary Media Circus

I'm trying to keep an open mind about the 2008 Presidency. For starters its simply too far out to worry about. There are people I like (Feingold, Edwards), and people I don't like (Biden, Kerry, Hillary). I kind of suspect that the 2008 Democratic nominee might be someone on nobody's radar screen who will emerge from some obscure governorship. The in thing right now on those who can't bother to wait for people to actually start campaigning is to treat Hillary Clinton as the defacto nominee 2 years before the primaries begin. The Washington Post runs an op-ed piece today explaining I think quite well the Hillary Clinton phenomenon. It also does an excellent job of expressing why I think Hillary Clinton is not the right person to nominate.
It is, of course, Hillary's very wifeyness that titillates. All wives are mysterious to others (even to their husbands, I suspect) since their relationships to their men are not based on merit, as we know it, or patronage, as we know it, but on love and sex (at first), children (after a while) and then something else. Since we do not know our own marriages, we cannot know anyone else's. This engenders endless speculation about the distribution of power and the importance of pillow talk. (Somehow, it's OK for the unelected Karl Rove to advise Bush, but if Laura did it, some people would go nuts.) Did Nancy Reagan actually tell Ron what to do? What about Eleanor Roosevelt -- especially Eleanor? She was even more vilified than Franklin and all she ever did was go down into a coal mine, invite Marian Anderson to sing on the Mall and make some speeches in that high, squeaky voice of hers. Hardly worth hating, you'd think. But, oh, she was certainly hated.

Hillary, of course, is a very famous and very mysterious wife. We need not enumerate the reasons. They were more or less impeachable. Did she know? How could she not have known? Was she complicit? Is she an enabler? And now that she is a public official in her own right, even more mystery attaches to her. Who is she? What, exactly, are her politics? Is she a Cubs or a Yankees fan?
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Some scrutiny of a possible president, even a mere senator, is expected, even required. But for one person to be so loved, so hated, and of such compelling interest -- so much more a celebrity than, say, John McCain -- suggests that more than politics is involved. Like Marie Antoinette, Hillary has emerged as the repository of so many fears, so much dread, such aspirations -- so much good and bad -- that we have to look past her office or her ambitions and suggest, strongly, that something deeply Freudian is at work. It was Freud, after all, who spoke for all men (and many women) by asking, "What do women want?" Now -- some fear, others hope -- we may finally have the answer.

My frustrations of late with Senator Clinton have been based arround her push to the center and apparent pandering to the non-existent centrist voter. But I am confident that if hypothetically Hillary could get elected, then she would make a good President whether I like her campaign style or not. The reason to object to Hillary Clinton running is that nobody has an open mind about her. It would be very difficult to get people to look beyond the irrelevencies that Cohen discusses and to consider the merits of candidate Clinton. It does not have to do with her being a woman, it has to do with her person, she is a much loved and much hated person who everyone has already made up their mind about. A less famous woman could stand a chance. I would welcome and support a Boxer candidacy if she decided to run, Hillary's problem is not her being a woman, but her presence as an irrational vent for many people to express everything wrong in the world.