Am still reeling from yesterday, but not, as you might assume, b/c I view her bizarre tribute to Nancy Reagan’s AIDS advocacy as evidence of Hillary’s indifference to the AIDS horror (though it was eerily Soviet in its sinister erasure/reversal of historical fact).
What I know about Hillary is that she is a better person than I. She and I are close in age, and though I was the proud president of the Human Relations Club in high school, since the 60s, like Bernie, I have ranted a lot, but done little to help anyone but myself. Unlike Hillary, I assure you, I never visited an AIDS clinic in the 80s or the 90s, and if I had, I would not have been eager to touch one of its sufferers (in re: testimonials, pictures of Hillary in clinics, with patients). Unlike Bernie and me, old timers who talk a lot of trash, but don’t actually get out much (and with the naming of 2 post offices as the principal accomplishments of his 26 year legislative career, he’s still far ahead of me in terms of concrete achievement, unless you count my introducing a number of Millennials to Foucault), Hillary has, in a very real way, spent decades on the ground, as well as in smoke-filled rooms, legislative bodies, and on the world stage, in a continuous and sustained campaign to make life better for people without a voice.
Considering the constraints of politics — both she and her husband needing to get elected and reelected — Hill’s record of real, material service to others astounds. She is not an idealist (thank God), and, from time to time, she has spoken, voted, or remained silent on the wrong side of matters that she believed she could not support without leaving the game. In a perfect world, she would have been able, at will, to follow her heart to Shangri-la; even in a fallen world, she could have, at any juncture, blocked her ears to the polls, listened only to her conscience, and nobly bowed out — or, depending on your slant, picked up her marbles and gone home. With the abuse she has endured, she could hardly be blamed for that.
That she has not walked away, I believe, testifies less to naked, unsavory ambition than to dogged commitment — to not giving up — to accomplishing as much as is realistically possible for the benefit of an ungrateful world that most of the time does not particularly care to be fixed.
Such is the nature of Hillary’s noted and often disparaged pragmatism (gonna avoid that term, replace it with *practicality*, cuz though I’m sure I am all too frequently guilty of it myself, I don’t like to misapply philosophical terminolgy).
Hillary is eminently practical, a woman of compassionate practicality, which means that she is here to help, with a plan — always with a plan, that Hillary. Me? I very much admire that in her because I know, first hand, how easy it is to be a limousine liberal with a lousy work ethic.
I also understand why others shrink from her avowed practicality. Damned super-heroes (along with *Harry Potter*, which I firmly believe accounts for Bernie’s appeal to many voters of a certain age). We want super heroes, not as much to save us from villainy, as to offer us, in our pitiable abjection, a reflective mirror in which to see ourselves as omnipotent, pure of heart, mighty, and immortal.
Unlike leaders who strike poses of uncompromised idealism, Hillary and her like (a club of few members) do not reflect back to us the perfection we crave. Maybe she’s too busy doing what she can, within the cruel limitations of the possible, but whatever, it’s damned hard for the rest of us to get through the day feeling like the miscreants we really are, and so we turn to our leaders, sometimes to save us from the bad guys, yes, but more often to redeem us from ourselves. Heaven knows, Hillary isn’t very effective at bathing herself in golden light, that we might bask in her reflected glory. Maybe if she ever took her apron off….but I digress.
BTW, all of the above is why I do not hold his appalling record on guns or his unpleasant obeisance to the gun lobby against Bernie. He’s from Vermont — and what he means when he launches into the “rural, hunting culture of my state” is: “For Christ’s sake, give me a break. I hadda get elected in frigging Vermont, and if I hadn’t caved on a few issues, like a trillion dollar plane that can’t fly, but is built in VT, or nuclear waste shipped from VT to poison a poor Latino neighborhood in Texas, or the backing of the God Damned NRA in my first election — sine qua non — without which NOT, it wouldn’t have happened for me. I had no job (self-support was a challenge, so self-funding really was not an option), and so if I hadn’t stooped to dine with the devil now and then, I guarantee you, somebody a lot worse than me woulda been happy to take my place.” He is right. He is so very right.
So, I don’t hold any of that against BS. What I hold against him is his cold-hearted devotion to the abstractions of a long-since superseded, bankrupt Marxism, abstractions that allow him to believe and to preach that all will be well as soon as we kill and eat the rich, that allow him to excuse the human rights horrors of Castro and Daniel Ortega as necessary evils when you’re getting your revolution on (I am not red-baiting, so don’t even go there, the man has put all of the above on the record). Bernie is the real thing, and his devotion to the revolution is precisely what blinds and deafens him to other struggles, principally those against racism and sexism, but anything, really, that doesn’t jibe with his antiquated economic model.
This is not to say that I see Bernie as any more racist or sexist than I am, or than anyone else steeped in our culture. Those are some inescapable traps, and they’ve got all of us in their jaws of steel. Which is to say that Bernie is certainly not evil, and I believe that he wishes everyone well. Should he get the nomination (oh, my aching head), I will vote for him as many times in the course of the first Tuesday in November as I can get away with because though he may be a lazy ranter, the GOP candidates are, to a one, monsters Actual monsters. (Shut up about Kasich, everybody).
But let me pause from this paid (I wish) political message and return to the matter at hand: if Hillary’s unnerving words of yesterday do not suggest callousness about AIDS, and I believe firmly that they do not (nor were they politically motivated b/c there was no upside whatever to what she said), why then am I, 24 hrs later, still churning, hurting, even?
Her misspeech (what a weasel word, “misspoke,” and how does a team of professional pols NOT know that?) wasn’t a gaffe, it was a Ben Carson-level episode of cluelessness, explicable only as a transient ischemic event.
I desperately want to write it off as such, but what if Hillary did NOT suffer a mid-interview mini-stroke? That would mean either that she was in a coma through the last decades of the last century, or that she is as dumb as a rock. If it is the latter, have I (and, in my defense, everyone else, including Karl Rove) seriously overestimated her intelligence? Is she really a drooling fool after all? Have I been projecting onto her the razor sharp mind I need reflected back to me in the hope of blotting out my own mooncalf idiocy? More to the point, can we afford another President as dumb or dumber than W? Not rhetorical question. Help me here.
P.S. Yes, there’s more. Though I have no reservations about Hillary as a SJW — she will always get more done in that realm than anyone — precisely b/c she is a tireless worker (LOL Bernie), who does NOT think the opposite of perfect is good (a position insuring that nothing will ever be accomplished — which, when you think about it, works out well, if you want to keep ranting and like to sleep til noon). I do, however, have concerns about her willingness to engage militarily — not so much about the Iraq war vote — if you see her speech on the Senate floor — she made clear that day that she had been guaranteed that a vote for that bill would NOT mean war, and she counseled vigorously against invasion. BHO has, however, set a high bar for restraint (even while droning the shit out of ISIS, the likes of which make it hard for a girl to hold onto her drone-phobic pacifism), and I worry that HRC will not be as cautious. The Libyan adventure is troubling. On the other hand, I am hopeful that she has been made fully aware of her trigger happy reputation— knows her base is uneasy about it — and will temper herself accordingly. Additionally, I am certain that in comparison to any of the GOP savages, she would be an angel of mercy to a troubled world. And finally, Bernie thinks Africa is a country. Please.
The other thing that troubles me about HRC (and it isn’t as unrelated to military aggression as it might seem) is her religion. Unlike every other candidate, except Bernie, the unelectable atheist (it’s actually my favorite thing about him, though he dilutes it with his monomaniacal — too close for comfort to monotheistic — faith in the salvation promised by the coming revolution), I think Hillary is truly a believer — have you ever seen, for instance, the correspondence between teenage Hill and her pastor? Impressive for its emphasis on rather sophisticated theology, as opposed to emotional Jesus-is-my-friend stuff, true, but I worry about that Protestant understanding of good and evil, with evil taking on material form in the world and needing vanquishing, *Onward Christian Soldiers*, etc. I’m a Roman Catholic atheist, myself.
This Just In: Helpful response from Mary Cantwell, who is a font of common sense:
I, too, am reeling from the Hillary comments. She is not dumb; she is not rash like Bill, and she is not shallow. The statement smacks of a little entitlement, but not the type she is usually accused of. Hillary has always liked Nancy Reagan; I remember her defending her as a person of great “vulnerability;” that was the word that she used back in the day. Everyone was shocked when Hillary defended Nancy back in the 90’s. I think Hillary and Bill did, in fact, go Hollywood over the years and probably see themselves as honorary Southern Californians. I believe that Nancy probably DID go the back door and do a few things to help gay people, after her husband left office. She probably returned to California, realized that her husband’s legacy would be DESTROYED because of his callousness concerning gays and AIDS and she may well have felt real remorse (or was just simply shamed by Princess Di into doing something nice for no reason at all). Maybe Hillary came to know of the few good deeds done by Nancy. I think Hillary over the years has come to forgive Nancy many things, in gratitude for her stance on stem cell research, or just simply identifying with a woman who suffered as she did as First Lady. The problem, I think, is that Hillary has deemed it time to embrace Nancy and Ronald Reagan, the children (who are the liberal wing of the old Republican Party) and probably Hollywood, which wishes to forgive Nancy as well. Hillary is not entitled to bring the rest of us along on her forgiveness tour. She is not the Baptist in her family; we are used to her other half forgiving all transgressors (I mean Bill forgave Rush Limbaugh for calling his child “ugly.”) Hillary is a Methodist. Nancy must have done something in the Good Works department to gain Hillary’s forgiveness. Back to the problem. No one who suffered through the Reagan Holocaust against AIDS victims should have to put up with their standard bearer pushing forgiveness and reconciliation on them. By “entitled,” I mean that HIllary thinks that she can sound the horn for forgiveness and we, the liberal community, will follow the lead. Not this time. Keep your forgiveness to yourself
Mary Kay Glazek A possibility I had not considered. Thanks, Mary, there may be something to that. It is, for instance, consistent with HRC’s ignorant boasting about receiving praise from Kissinger. She seemed truly unaware of what liberal America regards as his legacy. Living in a bubble. But advisors? Where are they?
Mary Cantwell Is it possible that Nancy is now only known for stem cell research and she has obliterated the bad memories of the AIDS epidemic? geesh. And yes, she and her husband seem to love praise from the other camp. Very strange