Friday, July 21, 2017

When Hillary met Donald, or, how HRC got Rope-a-Doped

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 You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that....  Now, some of those folks -- they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.  Hillary Clinton, New York City, September 9, 2016

For one unfortunate enough having to cull through the last thirty years or so the reams of Hillary Clinton’s tedious, mostly pre-programmed verbiage – the speeches, interviews, press conferences, campaign stumps -- the challenge is to find anything that is not (a) pandering and grievance mongering (b) self-servingly invented or false (c) a projection of her own hostility and paranoia (d) malicious and rancorous slander of her numerous “enemies,” that is, anyone who had the temerity to remind the public of her frequent detours around the truth.  At some point when Hillary Clinton no longer remains a threat to the American people and some hapless biographer must, out of the “sow’s ear” of her long, sordid career attempt to produce a readable “silk purse,” a starting point might likely be the most memorable and enduring of her many slurs, the one above, the “basket of deplorables,” combining all the elements of ‘a’ through ‘d’ above, made during her abysmal 2016 Presidential campaign.

To grasp the true “Hillaryness” of this moment one must not just read the words but watch her actual delivery captured on the You Tube video, where she does a passable impersonation of Joseph Goebbels.  She is speaking in New York City to an LGBT group, people with whom she, perhaps, feels the most at home, real Americans, as she suggests to her enthusiastic followers, not the Untermenschen she is complaining about. When she gets to this point, her demeanor changes. The frantic, screechy voice slows down a bit and lowers. She takes deeper breaths and her gestures are more rhythmic and forceful. This is not the routine, robotic pandering one typical sees with HRC. There is a slight weariness about her, the kind she must frequently experience that comes from having to pretend to tolerate so many stupid people on the campaign trail, like those who can’t quite get the hang of transgendered pronoun assignment.  She is more deliberate and calm, off script, speaking from her heart.

Unfortunately, what comes from the heart of Hillary Clinton, whatever its rare composition might be, unintendedly reveals how politically simple minded, ideologically primitive, and power grasping she is, sort of a severe, undeviating national schoolmarm, singling out and shaming those rowdy, naughty kids so that the nice, well-behaved ones can feel rightly and proudly superior and understand just how well favored and special they will remain by constantly sucking up to the teacher, affirming her wisdom, benevolence and authority. Hillary has never risen above being a cold moralist on the hunter’s prowl, a maniacal, unselfconscious ideologue driven by the need to make those multitudes of nasty, unworthy people out there do what they they are supposed to do, or, to make them face the consequences. What the consequences she had in mind for the designated “unredeemables” can only now be a matter of grim speculation. This malignant moralism tainted as well by avarice, perhaps, helps to explain the single largest flaw of her campaign that likely scuttled her election, one that frustrated even her acolytes, her inability to create a rationale for her presidency beyond the heights of her own ambition.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and even more so, the aftermath of the election has brought us to the nadir of identity politics, American-style, always a churning, roiling miasma of grievances, always the drive to recruit more victims, stoke the raw resentment higher.  A first in American post-election politics for expressing disappointment and frustration over the result was when a disaffected, resentment laden Democrat tried to gun down a bunch of congressmen because they were Republicans. Afterwards, Phil Montag, a Nebraska Democrat Party official, was recorded saying of the wounded  Congressman, Steve Scalise. “I’m glad he got shot.” Scalise must have been one of the irredeemables Hillary had in mind.  Montag was just saying out loud, what many Democrats, I suspect, were thinking.  

Identity politics did work out better eight years ago for Obama, but Obama was young, fresh and black, adept at working the levers of white guilt, whereas Hillary even by then was, well, none of the above, and with the warmth and personality of cobra (ironically and cruelly noted by fellow candidate Obama, “you’re likeable enough Hillary” in her failed 2008 primary campaign).  She was trying to be Obama II in the 2016 Presidential election, but there was only one Obama, and Hillary was carrying a lot of baggage.

There is so much irony to relish in the retrospect of the 2016 campaign: the Clintonistas plus the MSM early in the primaries salivating at the thought, improbable as it was at the time, of a Republican Donald Trump facing Hillary in the general election.  Given HRC’s well known, shall we politely say, “limitations,” who could possible have been a more magnificent target?  Here was the raging bull in America’s china shop of politics, a tailor-made, larger than life caricature of all those horrible things the Democrats had long taught the American voters to believe compose a typical Republican candidate. The only voters both Democrats and establishment Republicans could predict to turn out for this rude, ineloquent braggadocio with the orange comb over would be a couple of unemployed coal miners fresh off their bar stools, the knuckle-dragging bigots from the sticks who cling to their religion and their guns, and the remnants of the Klan. Everyone else was going to be “Ready for Hillary!”  However, they failed to realize, if this declaration were reformulated as a question, “Ready for Hillary?” it would resonate more like a promo in a trailer for a horror movie.

The irony throughout this most bizarre election in American history persisted up to the end.  As the election season moved toward completion, reality for Hillary and most of the Democrats never seemed to dent their fantasy of a landslide and coronation, never intruded enough to make them realize that Hillary, with all her material advantages and full alignment with the organs of mainstream culture, plus Trumps numerous blunders, was just not going to be able to seal the deal. 

Late on last November 8th reality came crashing down on the aspiring national schoolmarm and the entire establishment. The country, it seems, was not quite ready for Hillary. Given over as she as always been to the delusion of her self-perfection and given, as always, no inclination for self-introspection, her defeat, she bitterly complained, was the fault of Jim Comey, Vald Putin, and too many, “you know, to just be grossly generalistic,” deplorables -- racist, sexist white guys, one and all, who once again took away what was rightfully hers.  Not enough “progressives” out there, too little progress.

Perhaps, but consider another possible explanation, one best illustrated with reference to the outcome of different contest, a sports one, billed as “The Rumble in the Jungle”, a huge upset that shocked the world -- a boxing match staged in Kinhasa, Zaire, October 30, 1974.  The massively hyped matchup featured World Champion, George Forman battling former champ, Muhammed Ali.  Forman, 25 years old, bigger and stronger, at the peak of his career, was heavily favored to defeat Ali, at 32 his dazzling skills fading, a step or so, slower than in his prime, seemingly unprepared to withstand the onslaught of Forman’s herculean power.  Under the blazing African sun that day George Forman, too late, came to understand what “rope-a-dope” meant and to taste defeat bitterly seasoned by overconfidence. Laying on the ropes for the first seven rounds, arms up to protect his head from a knockout blow, Ali let Forman pound away at his mid section draining his energy and exhausting his huge, powerful punching arms.  In the eighth round Ali danced into the center of the ring and knocked out the man everyone expected to win the fight.

In the 2016 election Donald Trump, a novice, underdog political pugilist, did to Hillary Clinton what Ali did to George Forman.  He rope-a-doped her. Massively funded and staffed, arrogant and overconfident, buying the hype from the MSM and the happy-talk from the retinue of sycophants she kept in tow, Hillary apparently came to believe that she was going to be President simply because she thought she should be President. Trump was a loathsome, sexist slob: all she had to do was to keep repeating it.  Throughout the most of general election, like George Forman flailing away at Ali, Hillary was daily pounding Donald Trump. Vague and unclear to the electorate as to why she should be President, other than the fact that she was not Donald Trump, all she needed to do to put him on the mat was to keep throwing the usual Democrat punches: Trump was a racist, sexist, xenophobe, Islamophobe who would wear a pointy hat and white robes in the White House, a Hitler here, a Mussolini there, everywhere a Trump Brown Shirt.  From the vernacular of identity politics she extracted and threw every sock of PC feculence at him imaginable hoping to make him so politically and morally toxic only the troglodytes would want to vote for him.  Trump, however, laid on the ropes and let the insults rain down, treating them as being just that, pure insults, not the substantive, irrevocable moral stains intended by the Democrats to stick to him and destroy his character and sink his election.  Unlike conventional Republicans, Trump seemed unphased, offered no apologies, used the insults to energize his base, and did not walk back his own controversial, sometimes outrageous cuts at Hillary and her crew.  Like the effects of Forman’s shots to Ali’s ribs, Hillary’s “racist” jabs and “sexist’ roundhouses at Trump failed to put him away. Hillary’s strategy of PC name calling found her “preaching to the choir” and the choir in the swing states like Ohio and Michigan couldn’t quite find the right tune.  Late on November 8th the cable news anchors (CNN, MSNBC, FOX, CBS) in stunned disbelief and unable to disguise their horror, began to grasp that the Orange Man was going to be President. Trump had weathered Hillary’s best shots, come off the ropes and turned her “inevitability” upside down.

“More than anything else, Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” was her defining and damning moment. Her comments reveal the corrosive core of identity politics, its cultural Marxist premise that affirms that the most fundamental feature of social reality is the domination and exploitation of the weak by those who are privileged. Hillary’s politics is a North American Peronism, making needy, “have-not” voters into grateful clients by punishing those reluctant and selfish “haves.”  It is also, as noted above, a malignant moralism, a quest for victims who fall under her protection and patronage, and the “outing” of the victimizers, very bad people who deserve to have no power, influence, or opportunities to participate in civil society. These people, as she noted are “not America”, and presumably, should not be allowed to be a part of America.  The ominous and threatening implications of her remarks reek of the persecution and purges in the last hundred years coming out of movements that represented progress and promised equality for everyone.  That they barely stirred a comment suggests how deeply embedded Hillary-style Peronism is in mainstream American culture. There is no doubt that she truly believed what she said, and though she lost the election, the party that nominated her will continue to promote the same kinds rising from the ranks, even more open and aggressive in their antagonism for the imaginary haves.

After his defeat George Forman went on to become a charming sort of guy, a minister and well known TV pitchman for his grills. Also he regained his heavyweight crown at age 45, the oldest man to hold the title. Hillary?  Hopes are not so high.


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