Sketch: Hillary Clinton

On her coy candidacy

I have been busy with freelance work lately, cutting into my political cartooning time. In a way, that’s great, cuz money. But bad, cuz I miss some timeliness on current events that interest me.

Nonetheless, I keep at the sketchbook. Hillary Clinton is fun to draw. As she gets older — like most people — her face becomes more interesting; her personality comes through more; her lines of experience, time, and emotion begin to “stay like that” (as parents warned us as kids); and she keeps changing hairdos, always a plus for an artist. For real. There is nothing challenging or interesting about Ted Cruz’s or Barack Obama’s hairstyles. Props to John Kerry and Mitt Romney for keeping their crazy mid-’80s anchor man look. But as a drawing subject, the better the hair, the better the challenge.

As for content: the will-she-won’t-she story line is beyond dumb. Of course she will. Now that no other Democrat is bothering to challenge her for the nomination, her only concern is timing, and that waits for the email “brouhaha” (seriously, stop using that word, pundidiots) to die down. Once it does, she can make some awkward, uninspiring announcement that tries not to seem inevitable or presumptuous. Good luck with that.

I don’t mean that as a criticism of her, but of a) the system that requires raising a billion dollars to become a serious contender for the presidency; and 2) the clown car of potential Republican candidates. It must be so difficult not to come off as condescending to a bunch of shitheads. I think that was half of Al Gore’s image problem way back when. Remember the “sighing”? Not attractive, but how could you not? We endured two terms of his opponent’s reign, and if you weren't throwing shoes at the television, you were sighing, or wincing, or gritting your teeth.

Therein lies the danger. Imagine debate season 2016 as inevitable nominee Clinton faces off against Rand Paul, Jeb Bush or whichever candidate can survive the GOP primaries. Let’s go with Rand. He’s silly, but smart enough to make a debate interesting; it would be refreshing to hear him take on the national security state, after all. Yet he is also a libertarian, as we all know (it’s right there on the tin!), and have you ever met one who isn’t prone to off-the-cuff bullshitting? A mish-mash of ideological purity, self-confident assertions and out-of-one’s-ass nonsense? This could seem to work in Clinton’s favor: she could counter with actual facts and logic; and she could appear to be a smart, capable woman receiving a condescending lecture from one of the biggest mansplainers of all. (Cf. Rick Lazio.) Clinton is probably disciplined enough to refrain from sighing. So she could trounce Rand Paul, image-wise and (more importantly, though less consequentially) debate-wise.

Yet Clinton could also underestimate a Paul or a Rubio (the meltdown king, so I doubt he’d make it past South Carolina), much in the way Gore and Kerry underestimated Bush — or underestimate the appeal of such candidates to a voting public largely comprised of people who respond to personality politics more than real issues. If the election comes down to another Clinton or another Bush, it is hard to imagine a voter turnout as excited to make an historic choice as we saw in 2008; even Obama couldn’t rouse that passion four years later. What you could expect are the slight differences, the within-margin-of-error sliver of turnout between the parties that overprioritizes the worst voting bloc of all, the swing voter. (Honest-to-gawd, I have more sympathy for people who don’t vote at all.) Unlike the partisans, who can make a passionate case for their candidate (however full of crazy it might be), the swing voter is depressingly uninformed, even undisinformed, though shockingly misinformed. Jeb’s brother may work against him, and Hillary’s husband may work for him — both factors that mean nothing to the actual worth of the affected candidates, just as irrelevant as whatever personality traits that become a viral sensation (was one condescending, was the other shrill?), egged on by a meme-happy media, and potentially important to the swing voters determining the eventual outcome.

In short, I already dread election year, and it has not even begun. What makes it worse is that I really can’t stand either party.