The Times of London’s cartoonist, like most cartoonists and journalists, has been strangely unable to produce anything even vaguely critical of the Senator from Illinois, while going to Hating Town in Hate Week on the Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton.
But today he – and it is a he, a white he – finally managed to actually produce an unflattering portrait of Barack Obama:
The only unflattering part of it though is that white ‘bitch’ – who is, apparently, just unsightly pus. But then this represents an upgrade: a couple of weeks ago in the London Times she was a corpse.
I wonder though whether that angry ‘zit’ doesn’t also represent the liberal media class’ view of the white working class, the people who keep handing Hillary huge victories and Obama stinging defeats, and whom the media and the Obama camp (which are in fact, and in class, pretty much the same thing) keep trying to squeeze out of the news and out of respectable society by dismissing them as ‘ignorant’ and ‘racist’ and ‘bitter’.
Trouble is, without this unsightly pus, without this throbbing zit on the handsome face of polite liberal well-heeled metropolitan society, no Democratic victory in November is even imaginable.
Speaking of unimaginable, as with The London Times’ wish-fulfillment image of Hillary face-down with an American state in her back, it’s inconceivable that this cartoon could be reversed and Obama the black man portrayed as a angry zit on white Hillary Clinton’s face.
God, but they hate her. Really, really hate her. They hate her so much they want her dead. And it’s gone way past a bloody metaphor.
Not most Democrat voters, of course, who have given her at least as many votes as Obama, (and though many Obama fans hate her passionately, religiously, a surprising number don’t actually have it in for Hillary). No, it’s the traditional media and the blogosphere that are driven, pretty much unanimously, into a murderous fury by Hills.
Last week after her slim victory in Indiana and Obama’s large one in North Carolina, both of which were pretty much as predicted, the media, as if on some pre-arranged signal, treated this as big, front page, defining moment news, all agreeing that she was ‘Finished’. ‘Toast’. ‘Over’. ‘Dead in the water’. ‘Done’. ‘Washed up.’ The powerful Senator for New York was headed for ‘Oblivion’. Ding! Dong! The witch is dead!
The London Times op-ed page cartoon last week (above) by Peter Brookes graphically/gratifyingly illustrated the Hillarycidal tendency by showing That Woman – finally! – face down, dead, speared in the back by a star from the American flag. Hurrah! America strikes back! Like most satirists, Brookes has gone to town on Hillary from the beginning, portraying her as a spiteful, hideous hag and harridan – which is his job. But, again like most satirists, and most journalists, he has found himself strangely unable to do his job when it comes to Obama: his caricatures are more like loving portraits, or religious icons. Reverse the roles and put Obama the black man in Hillary’s position, face down with an American State in his back, and the cartoon becomes utterly inconceivable except as a comment on American racism.
When Hillary had the effrontery to fail to comply with the media’s universal death sentence last week, and, instead of lying down dead on the ground, remained very much alive and well and carried on campaigning strenuously, they tried the ‘Hillary enters death-with-dignity phase’ angle. Or talked about how she’s only staying in the race because she’s ‘after money’. Or ‘campaigning for 2012′. Or how she was just ‘mad’.
And then this week, Hillary wins a huge victory in West Virginia, handing Obama his biggest defeat of the Primaries – not bad for a corpse. Though you might have missed it, because most of the media tried to bury the inconvenient Hillary-Lazarus story. If it covered the West Virginia landslide at all it was usually in the form of asking whether ‘racism’ was at the root of it. A question which it curiously failed to ask when Obama won 90% of the black vote in North Carolina, but which it now asks repeatedly whenever Hillary wins. Obama you see wins because he’s a good candidate and because black people are good people who recognise a good man when they see one; Hillary wins because she’s a desperate candidate and working-class white people are stupid and mean and… low-class.
The unanimity of the (educated, well-heeled, liberal, overwhelmingly white) media class is such and has been for some time now that you might be forgiven for thinking that some of them would feel uncomfortable with parroting one another. But then if you did, you’d be underestimating the gutless, herd-like nature of the media class.
Besides, they’re defending their interests as a class.
Why does the media class hate Hillary so viscerally and want her dead? Partly because her main constituency, the white working class, is the only group they are permitted to look down upon – and boy, do they. By accusing the white working class of being racist, which is a charge that seems to easily trump classism and sexism, they are really accusing them of being ignorant. Which they obviously are, since they don’t vote as instructed by the Fourth Estate – who know better than the electoral backbone of the Democratic Party what’s best for the Democratic Party. The shocking nakedness of the media’s bias against Hillary and her supporters is deliberate – it’s meant to demonstrate their moral and class superiority.
But the main reason why the media’s Hillarycidal fury is so extreme and so universal this time around is because they told us she was ‘dead’, ‘finished’, ‘over’, several times before – and she proved them very wrong. Repeatedly.
So she must DIE. They really want to wipe her out – not just because she proved them wrong, after all, it’s their stock-in-trade to be wrong, but because she has succeeded in conducting a campaign without their permission. That represents an intolerable challenge to their authority. How dare a politician in the 21st Century in the most advanced, most powerful country in the world carry on winning elections without the support of the media or the blogosphere? Who the hell does that bitch think she is?
Hillary’s chances of winning the nomination are certainly not, as the media class keeps telling you – and has been since February – non-existent. But they are very slim. And I make no claim, from this side of the Atlantic, in one of the US’s military satellites currently at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, to know who would make a better President of the United States – even if I think it crystal clear which one has a chance of actually beating the Republicans who embarked on those wars (clue: the one who keeps winning the big swing states).
But I would love for Hillary Clinton to win the Nomination for one reason and one reason alone. To force the media class on both sides of the Pond to choke on its hideously unattractive Hillarycidal hat.
Claiming the moral high ground is, in my view, the lowest form of politics. No doubt this means that, like the voters of Pennsylvania, I don’t read The New York Times enough.
We’re really missing out. Yesterday’s haughty editorial in the wake of Senator Clinton’s convincing victory in that key state, despite having the Democratic grandees and the media on her back, and despite being outspent by Obama nearly 3-1, was headlined: ‘The low road to victory’. Congratulations on your win, Hillary!
The editorial, which managed the impressive feat of sounding both screeching and condescending at the same time, accused her campaign of being:
‘…even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.’
Wow. You make it sound much more fun than it actually was.
‘Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work.’
Because the NYT says so? Or because it produces big wins for Hillary? But you have to admire a newspaper that can actually print the sentence ‘demeaning the political process’ without it being the punch-line to a joke. Of course, just about the only thing that can ‘demean the political process’ is airy-fairy, hypocritical posturing in place of a good, honest – and, let’s face it, thoroughly entertaining – punch-up.
Limo liberals gazing out at the world through their smoked-glass rear windows while cruising along the moral high road might not know this, but blue collar workers who happen to be the electoral backbone of the Democratic Party appear to. Hillary certainly knows it, which is why she repeatedly compared herself to Rocky – a ‘low’ reference which no doubt also caused the NYT to wrinkle its patrician nose. Either way, the NYT has had enough of this vulgarity:
‘It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.’
And how would you like her to make that acknowledgement? By throwing in the towel? Committing suicide? Writing a mea culpa letter to the NYT? All three? If only Hillary would get out of the way, stop fighting and dragging everything down into the mud of hick states like Pennsylvania, we could get on with the business of reading the NYT:
‘After seven years of George W. Bush’s failed with-us-or-against-us presidency, all American voters deserve to hear a nuanced debate.’
Yes! America is crying out for nuance! From sea to shining sea, from Pennsylvania to California, they shout: give me nuance! Not jobs, peace, security, housing, or a Democratic candidate for the White House that can actually win, or even a serious set-to proper fight, as if any of this stuff really mattered – but civilised, sensible, op-ed nuance. (Not that there’s much nuance in this particular example, though.)
In point of fact, it’s past time that the Democratic Party and the NYT thanked Hillary for fighting dirty.
By fighting dirty – that’s to say, openly attacking her opponent instead of relying on email newsletters, memos, partisan journalism and the poisonous hysteria of fans as Obama has done until now – Hillary has begun to awaken the Democratic Party to the unpalatable truth it’s been avoiding for so long: that the Dali Obama has little or no life outside the Democratic Party and its sensitivities. He is the perfect candidate for defeating her, but the perfect one for the Republicans to destroy. She’s given them a small, relatively restrained taste of what the GOP will do with him – and where they will shove his halo. It’s past time for the NYT and the grandees of the Democratic Party to get down on their expensively tailored knees and thank her for doing so before it was too late.
Limo liberals will never thank her, of course. For many of them Obama was never really meant to win anything more than the Democratic Candidacy. Winning the Presidency itself would be far too vulgar, too ‘low’. He was meant to bring them something much more valuable than a change of Government, especially for those who already have everything. He was meant to make them feel good about themselves. Come polling day, he was supposed, like all Messiahs, to die. The Senator for Illinois is a human sacrifice designed to prove the moral superiority of liberals to the ‘Repugs’, as they like to call them – and in fact to politics itself.
The very reason Hillary is hated and scorned by the limo liberals is because she didn’t leave it to the Republicans to destroy their idol. She forced him to show his hand – and feet of clay – and splutter predictable lies, as he did in the last TV debate. ‘John McCain should go on holiday, Hillary is doing his work for him’ protested recovering Republican millionairess Arianna Huffington recently on her Obama-worshipping Hillary-loathing website.
No, Arianna darling, Hillary is doing the work that liberal journalists should be doing but aren’t because they’ve gone on permanent vacation in ObamaLand: she’s pulled back the curtain and showed the Wizard of Chicago to be… shock! horror! a politician. And a very inexperienced, untested one at that, who, even without Pastor Wright et al bumping around in his very crowded closet, will be crucified by the Republicans. Unceremoniously. There will be nothing morally satisfying or redeeming about it at all: it will just be messy, sickening and brutal. The NYT really will have something to be indignant about then – but it will be far too late.
But perhaps Hillary’s greatest crime, and her ‘lowest’ trick, is not being more electable than Obama and refusing to keep quiet about that, but asking who does the Democratic Party really belong to? Arianna Huffington, the New York Times and the former President of the Harvard Law Review, alias Mr Obama – or ‘bitter’ Scranton, Pennsylvania?
As camp comic Kenneth Williams might say: ‘ark at ‘er!
An entertaining, often incisive, if rather, er, campy, Huffington Post article ‘The Diva’s Camp’ about Hillary’s diva power (and why this turns off ‘Obama-colytes’) compares Hillary Clinton to Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest:
‘Hillary Clinton is possessed by the spirit of Joan Crawford. Like that notorious über-bitch immortalized by Faye Dunaway in the camp classic Mommie Dearest, Hillary bulldozed into a Democratic primary dominated by men and brazenly declared, as any self-respecting diva would: Don’t fuck with me fellas! This ain’t my first time at the rodeo!’
Now, that’s funny, but where did I hear that before?
Oh, yes, that was me a month ago talking about the “3am” ad in a piece after her Ohio comeback called ‘The Bitch is Back’ on Guardian Unlimited:
‘…Hillary answering the White House phone in scarlet lipstick, has both a touch of 1990s nostalgia, and also one of timeless thrilling glamour – a hint of Joan Crawford talking to the board of Pepsi in Mommie Dearest: “Don’t fuck with me, fellas – this ain’t my first time at the rodeo!“‘
Even though I hear that Guardian Unlimited is quite popular in the American blogosphere, I’m sure it was just a case of diva-revering minds thinking alike. And I very much doubt I’m the first person to compare Hills to Joan.
Actually, though, we weren’t really thinking alike. Despite my comparison when discussing the ad, I don’t think that Hillary is possessed by the spirit of Joan Crawford, or is camp as a row of tents full of impossible divas on the blob. Apart from anything else, camp isn’t really possible in a world like the all-singing, all-dancing shameless one that cavorts and disports itself before our jaded eyes these days.
Everything and nothing is camp. Including the Huffington Post. More to the point, to talk about Hillary as being ‘so camp!’ seems to argue, whether intended or not, that the notion of a woman as the most powerful person in the world is merely ‘failed seriousness’. Or a joke.
And this is a very serious business. Medically serious. Sometimes it looks as if the Democratic Party is having a gigantic nervous breakdown over the idea of Hills as their ‘man’, or, rather, over the ‘arrogant’, ‘hopeless’, ‘divisive’, ‘ugly’ idea that she thinks she could be rather than Mr Obama. It’s tangibly Oedipal.
Despite that, I do believe that America is slowly, slowly, very, very tortuously, negotiating the five-alarm idea of having a ‘bitch’ and ‘cow’ and ‘whore’ and ‘c**t’ – to use the progressive, uplifting, non-partisan vernacular of righteous Obama fans – as Commander in Chief. America will learn not to cross its legs and whimper when Hillary is on TV, even if MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson doesn’t.
After all, Hillary has almost all of the crucial big states, and if the Democrats used the same first-past-the-post electoral system used during the Presidential contest itself, she would be well ahead of Obama. Contrary to what the media likes to tell us, she’s anything but Box Office Poison.
Perhaps because it attracts insecure men keen to big themselves up, it seems to be mostly the US media that’s having the nervous breakdown. The more than slightly deranged and hysterical – certainly much more deranged and hysterical than she is accused of being – nature of the press bias against Hillary and the extreme, frequently all-but murderous personal abuse casually levelled at her,compared with the loving, swooning indulgence bestowed on her stripling rival, does rather suggest that anxiety about a female Big Boss, thus far at least, looms and lurks much larger in their minds, than a black (or, rather, half-white) male one. This isn’t to say that ‘sexism is worse than racism’, it’s just to point out that sexism – no, sorry, untrammelled, uninhibited, shuddering, shivering, gut-wrenching misogyny – unlike racism, is considered perfectly acceptable prime time fare.
And as somebody who isn’t entirely free of misogyny myself, I think it terribly unfair that they should be able to get away with it.
Sometimes, watching the American Primaries coverage has been like watching an especially horrifying episode of 60s retrosexist drama Mad Men, but without the irony or the smoking.
In her bitter battle to win this unconscious – and therefore by definition unfair – struggle, Hillary is using every powerful American feminine archetype she can lay her hands on. Unfortunately for her, there aren’t too many. Unlike our first female leaderene Mrs T (whom America loved, partly because she was, like Churchill, and Tony Blair, great at giving America head, but mostly because she wasn’t their leader), she doesn’t have chariot-driving Boudicca or Armada-vanquishing Elizabeth I or globe-ruling Victoria to call on as legitimising ancestral memories.
Because of the vital symbolic importance of these women in our national mythology, or maybe just because of Coronation Street, the UK is sometimes rather more matriarchal than the US. Elton John, who admittedly is not perhaps the best argument for matriarchy, recently announced himself shocked by the misogyny America has displayed during these Primaries.
Republics and their ‘Founding Fathers’ favour women even less than monarchies. Monarchies, which are after all based on reproduction and families, occasionally cut them a break, when no worthy male heir turns up – which is what happened with the Tory Party in the 1970s when it anointed Maggie. Though if she had used the famous line of Elizabeth, “I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too,” everyone would have scoffed at the idea that her body was ‘weak and feeble’. Even her famous handbag was seen as a fearsome weapon.
Powerful women in American history, save perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt, don’t really exist – except as kindling in Arthur Miller plays. So they had to be imagined in 1940s Hollywood melodrama, aimed, of course, at powerless women: producing, literally, ‘divas’ such as Joan, Bette and Katherine. So if Hillary sometimes channels a little bit of Joan, Bette and Katherine it’s because she needs to imagine herself as a powerful woman in a man’s world, and American history doesn’t offer her much else to work with.
OK, she might possibly be a psychotic bitch too, but the media has yet to make that case – though it keeps trying. Hillary isn’t possessed by the spirit of Joan Crawford, as the Huffington Post has it – rather, Joan Crawford is possessed by the spirit of Hillary.
Handsome half white/half black but entirely male (if very eager to please) Obama can and does draw on both Martin Luther King and Jack Kennedy, and in fact American political history at least as far back as Lincoln for his legitimation – and invites us, with that sexy smile, to a ‘more perfect union’. It’s an invitation that, oddly, seems to turn men on more than women. Hillary hating MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, for instance, talks openly about how how listening to Obama gives him ‘a thrill up my leg’ (a very different kind of feeling, I’m guessing, to that experienced by Tucker Carlson listening to Hillary). Lots of guys are gay for Obama – and out and proud it seems.
And as for Hillary being a ‘gay icon’, despite gay parade marching Hills being closer in many ways to the gay community than Obama, and despite (English) Elton John’s support, most American homos I know can’t bear her, while the main gay blogs practically dance on her head daily. Preposterously bearded MTM transsexual and recovering Republican Andrew Sullivan is completely obsessed, practically screaming ‘DIE, BITCH! DIE!’ at her, calling her a ‘horror movie without end’ and comparing her to Glenn Close’s insane stalker character in the infamous 80s career-woman hating flick Fatal Attraction. Get a grip, Mary. And a shave.
Despite Mr O’s reluctance to be interviewed by the gay press or attend gay parades, his Christian church base, and his gay platform vagueness, he is much the ‘gayer’ candidate simply because he is younger, better-looking, better-dressed, cooler – and male. He is, in fact, metrosexual.
If we are going to talk about camp, and if camp is a form of style over substance, mediagenic Obama is much camper than Hillary – and more of a diva too. Doesn’t he roll his eyes during debates with Hillary? Doesn’t he fill stadiums with his performances? Didn’t he flounce out of a press conference in which he was actually grilled instead of applauded in a huff, protesting ‘You’ve asked me like, eight questions already!’‘.
It’s the male divas you have to watch out for in politics. Over here in the UK we are still getting over our own Christian pop star politician, that nice Mr Blair who took us, smiling his drag queen smile, into a disastrous American war.
What is American voters’ problem? The media, on both sides of the Atlantic, has been telling them for weeks that dreary Hillary was “finished” and that Tuesday’s primaries were going to be her “Alamo” – and that Obama, the glamorous, smooth-talking 1960s tribute act, was unstoppable. The kindly Fourth Estate made it as clear as they possibly could which way the idiots should vote on Tuesday, practically hitting them over the heads with it, and what do they do?
Only go and hand “that woman” a stunning, breathtaking – and completely unforeseen by the pundits – comeback last Tuesday, pulling the coronation carpet from under Obama and Michelle’s smartly shod feet. The cheek of it! The racism of it!
Not that you’d know Clinton won big in the Democratic primaries from reading the sulking liberal media. According to them (here and here), it was “really” Republican McCain who won.
So how did it happen? What gave the voters of Texas, Michigan and Rhode Island the nerve to defy their betters and hand Hillary victory? Well, it’s quite ironic, really. You see, it was Hillary’s willingness to become the very thing that she has been painted as being by a hostile media and Obama supporters (who for followers of a man who preaches so much about “unity” and “peace” can be awfully unpleasant).
Yes, of course, she was always something of a bitch anyway – how could a woman who got that far in politics not be? But in the run-up to this do-or-die primary she came out about it. Rather than shedding some tears this time, she presented herself as an out-and-proud battling bitch. She started to go after that nice Mr Obama head-on, claws out, instead of pussy-footying around, or letting hubby Bill do it from behind the lines – or hoping, vainly, that the press might subject Obama to anything other than adoring scrutiny. So she clawed him on his double-dealings over Nafta, she slapped him about over his dodgy links with slum landlords, kicked him in the nuts over his inexperience and his hot air. She became a backbiting face-scratching brawling battling bitch that you’d better not mess with.
Inevitably, battling bitch Hillary was portrayed as simply desperate and bankrupt by a disdainful media, but voters seem to have respected her for it. Voters, especially blue-collar Americans in places like Ohio already experiencing recession, have begun to see her as their bitch, able to fight their corner in difficult times – and, strangely, they’re less concerned than limousine liberals about whether this looks “cool” or “presidential” or not.
The Hillary’s now (in)famous “children” ad – “It’s 3am, your children are asleep, a phone rings in the White House” – announced the emergence of the new Hillary. Denounced by Obama as “the politics of fear”, it showed that at last she was prepared to play hardball, in public, and mess with Obama’s sainted hair. That because she was willing to run such a ruthless ad, she was the kind of person, the kind of woman, that was worthy of that office. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be up against the party of “national security” – in wartime. A party that won’t hesitate to play hardball will Obama’s halo.
Obama’s eager use of the “children” ad as a cue to play yet again that increasingly grating record of his blamelessness, his virgin stainlessness – “The phone DID ring, she answered it and she made the WRONG decision!” worked against him. Plaintively reminding the public how HE didn’t vote for THAT war (because, actually, he wasn’t in the Senate back then) reminded them that innocence and inexperience can be much the same thing – making him look a bit too goody-goody for the White House, with all its sulphurous compromise. That, whatever else it is, the Oval Office is not a pulpit.
Besides, didn’t Hillary spend most of the 1990s – the last time America was popular and at peace – in that house, surviving everything the Republicans could throw at her? Doesn’t her face, the one the press constantly jeers at for being so much less pretty than Obama’s (a candidate whose face appears to turn caricaturists into lovesick teenyboppers), bear the scars of those battles?
The end of the ad, Hillary answering the White House phone in scarlet lipstick, has both a touch of 1990s nostalgia, and also one of timeless thrilling glamour – a hint of Joan Crawford talking to the board of Pepsi in Mommie Dearest: “Don’t fuck with me, fellas – this ain’t my first time at the rodeo!” Or maybe Ripley in Alien: “Stay away from her you bitch!” (though of course Hillary is both Ripley and Alien Mother).
Hollywood itself didn’t rely on hints, meanwhile. The hit Jack Nicholson “Who Do You Trust?” YouTube ad – “there’s nothing sexier on this earth, believe me gentlemen, than a woman you have to salute in the morning” – endorsed, not just Hillary’s candidacy, but battling bitch Hillary: since we know a loveable bastard like Nicholson wouldn’t respect a woman boss unless she was at least his match.
After being written-off and told to give up, and fighting on regardless, her literally grim determination has earned grudging respect. People look at her face, and all the tiresomeness of it, its lines, its bitterness, its frozen, career-woman trailblazer features, and take them as terrible proof of her commitment. For Hillary, it doesn’t look like a dream; it’s closer to a nightmare. And so, of course, is real politics as opposed to stadium-rock politics. The White House is something she deserves – in every sense of the word.
Meanwhile, people looked at Obama’s much younger, much prettier, much softer, much more pleasing face, basked in his Hawaiian smile, heard his soaring words and phrases, and decided that, while this is one American Idol that they very much like the sound and look of – one who makes them feel mighty good -he just ain’t half the woman that Hillary is.
Copyright Mark Simpson 2008
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