The Jilting of Hillary Clinton (A Fantasia with Comment):
There came a point yesterday when Hillary Clinton realized it wasn't enough. When the Portsmouth woman, Marianne Pernold, asked her, simply, "What about you?" Clinton couldn't contain herself. "Me?" she wondered. "Haven't you been paying attention?" She teared up as the wave of revelations hit her: how one can't present oneself as an agent of change if one has always been there - if everyone knows you as the status quo, you can't claim you'll lead a revolution; how she made so many political calculations when she sucked the bile down in her throat and she voted, time and time again, for war and war funding, for policies and spending she knew were utterly and completely dunderheaded; how the work of much of her adult life made Barack Obama's candidacy not only possibly, but his surge inevitable; how she had suffered so long, under such hideous scrutiny and attack, building up such a sense of entitlement to the nomination, if not the presidency, that the very idea that some uppity - no, let's say, "upstart," with biceps and a smile would halt her coronation is still simply...impossible. Of course she teared up. What person wouldn't?
It wasn't enough, goddamnit, it wasn't enough. And it all flowed over her in this frozen moment, with her aides and supporters surrounding her, with the signs that scream her name always in her sight, in her periphery, that tide, that feeling that no matter how much pain we endure in this life, it doesn't mean that we will be graced with redemption, with triumph. What's frustrating to Clinton is that she knew this, she saw it with Bill. Jesus Christ, Bill - the callowest calculation of all. Now, getting him to put his prestige on the line in order to campaign for her so vehemently, she has used up her last chit, called in her last favor that she had in exchange for sticking by him a decade ago. Yes, she knew the price to be paid, that one is not truly owed anything in this life, but that doesn't make it hurt any less.
And worse, even worse, she thinks, staring into Pernold's eyes, this undecided voter who wants to know on a gut level, not in the mind, not policy or plan, but in the heart and the stomach, why she should vote for Clinton, is that she listened to men who told her to attack Obama and to become what she held in contempt for so long: the purveyor of fear, like the petulant president or the pustular vice, saying, threatening, "Gordon Brown comes in, the very next day, there are terrorist attacks. Thankfully, they were unsuccessful, from London to Scotland. So, you've got to be prepared on day one with everything ready to go." Even that didn't work, and she can't shake the taste of Karl Rove's ball sweat on that one.
Yes, Clinton says when she finally speaks to Pernold, it is personal: "It's not just political. It's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game. They think it's like who's up or who's down." A lovely revelation of self, to be sure. But, knowing that she's always campaigning, she adds, in a less-reported part of her response, "You know some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds. But some of us are right some and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not." And the moving moment is transformed into nothing more and nothing less than some old lady whining that the youngsters are gonna ruin this country.
Hillary Clinton moves on. She knows only one form of politics, the kind practiced on her, the kind she witnessed from Nixon to Reagan to her husband. You are either slashing and burning or you are the one who is cut down and set aflame. It is impossible to move beyond your experience of the world, and that is why she continues to alienate as Obama continues to reap.
Even as those around her will say that she should go gentle into that good night when she loses today's primary and not remain on the beach hoping that she's still standing when the tidal wave passes, she will fight on. It is what she knows. It is the way she has been forced to live for her entire life, the cruel reality of our unconscious-driven behavior. She will use connection and money to try to bring Obama down, and it will be awful to behold, to see her fall, to see who she drags with her.
It will be over, though, after tonight. Because voters have realized they don't have to cast their lot in with her. The forced march to the altar with Hillary Clinton has been halted. As much as some will try to make it into something sexist, it won't be. It'll be because, fairly or unfairly, we just got tired of what she represents. And, yes, we do write obituaries early, even for the walking dead. So here's Clinton's, in a quote from Katherine Anne Porter: "Her body was now only a deeper mass of shadow in an endless darkness and this darkness would curl around the light and swallow it up. God, give a sign!
"For a second time there was no sign. Again no bridegroom and the priest in the house. She could not remember any other sorrow because this grief wiped them all away. Oh, no, there’s nothing more cruel than this – I’ll never forgive it. She stretched herself with a deep breath and blew out the light."