8 de Abril, 2008
Bill Past Due
SO I'VE BEEN THINKING after reading a few irate writers who imply that there is some kind of contagious framing out in the aether that unfairly paints Hillary Clinton as a liar. Some of these people say this persistent test she must pass is a special Clinton rule, or is sexist. (I know I'm simplifying. It's not my main point, nor the foundation of another. Just a path to get to my current thought.)
Because I am not wanting ever to be a Deciderer, I do question myself. Even on the points of which I am sure I am right. This is why I am still alive, I think. (This willingness to be wrong, this debate-team/devil's advocate habit can check a disastrous course in the right instance!)
I say "Well, okay. In this New Media thing you aren't pretending to be capable of perfect neutrality. You want to be fair. But you are biased. So let your biases show." All good and well. And then I say "So what are my biases?" And wonder if I really know. So I think.
I know one. And I guess I should lay it out there to provide further context.
You know that first time you vote? That first time you feel (right or wrong) that you are finally touching the gears of our government and helping to make something happen? That first time you threw your voice and your weight behind a person who spoke to your values in some way and promised to champion them? Well, Bill Clinton was that person for me. My mother was really into him, and with his happy-making smile, pictures of his old fro, stories about his para-inhalation days, I felt this cat could have jumped right out of a scene from the warmest days in my memory. My childhood in the 1970s. I saw him as a renegade in the stolid system, a chance at change in a society that had left me disillusioned and disgusted some time ago.
After I wrote that last title "Clinton Isn't Completely Lying" a bell was ringing in my pre-dawn ears and I couldn't figure it out for a moment, and then I was suddenly back in my little apartment in Loch Sheldrake, the one with the room-tall sun that I had airbrushed on two of the kitchen walls, the apartment I kept while I was first going back to school at 29 (ten years ago), taking 24 credits, President of the Science Alliance and the Creative Writing club, holding down a part time job, pulling As, kickin ass, winnin grants, taking names and giving no mercy. Life was all about the climb then, and all about success in the World.
In that apartment, I had something that a classmate joking called "an ego wall." This was a corner of my room that had nothing but 98% papers or higher tacked to it. It was quite full by the time I transferred to NYU and left the small, economically depressed town for the Big City. I had that wall because I had something to prove, of course. When I went to that school (for the second time), I was coming out of what I think of as my nadir. It was what felt like a terribly long period of apathy and destructive tendency and probably, confusion. But it all happens as it ought to. Still is. Anyway, those papers and grades were there to remind me. Not so that I could gloat. So that I left no room for doubt in my own mind of what I was capable. I needed that reminder. (Today? I don't even have any of my degrees or awards hung up, go figure. Never did hang up my diploma from NYU—not that I don't value the education or the experience, I very much do. I just don't need it in a frame on the wall.)
Do you know what else was hanging on that ego wall? Right under all those papers with blazing grades on them? The only other thing?
It was a tacked-up newspaper page with Bill Clinton's picture. It was the one where he finally admitted that all those adamant statements about Not Having Sexual Relations With That Woman were complete and total bullshit. Where I met my first up close and personal bitter truth about politicians. And more importantly, the one for whom I had cast my first vote. That was a reminder, too.
I felt, and still do, that Bill Clinton was unfairly witch-hunted. But I can't now and never could get his perjured face out of my mind. How goddamn earnest and sincere his lies were. Oh, it's cool. I've known and lived with ex-junkies and ex-cons and stick-up men. And worse. Trust me, it's not as if I hadn't known people, prior to Bill Clinton, who could redefine the word "is" straight-faced and not drop a bead of sweat. It's not as if Bill Clinton broke all visions of goodness in the world for me, or anything like that. It's the converse. It's actually specifically because I have known professional and pathological liars that I know enough to look twice and don't forget what you saw first.
What I've seen from him has thrown weight into how I see his campaigning for HRC, and how I view his denials of what he meant or intends on that campaign trail. Truth be told, when I hear his gravelly Southern voice telling me he never meant this or that, my skin crawls in exact retraction of the way the sound once might have soothed my doubts. I don't trust the earnest assertions of Bush and I don't trust chuckling storytelling of Bill Clinton. It's not a "bad" bias. It's the survival mechanism of a healthy human being. It doesn't matter if I "like" him, or if I can relate, if I have my own cigar collection, or if I think he was unfairly targeted and hounded.
That shattered illusion lead me to look more into the actual effects Clinton had in office and I've seen glaring contradictions to who I had been thinking he was and who he really was. And I've seen these cracks grow into fissures watching his campaigning tactics. And that's not passing on any "Drudge Meme," baby. That's my own experience and life and you can take it or leave it.
Hillary endorses, loves, lives with, supports, is supported by, is married to this man. And this comment is about association and methodology and endorsement. Not marriage. But birds, and feathers, and façades.
I think my feeling that a Clinton nomination, rather than being inspiring, would ultimately prove demoralizing, is not really rooted in sexism, or race considerations, or class considerations. I respect HRC and think she means well. Her worldview, though...it is not focused in the direction in which I think the path lies. (Video in a few days.)
Yes, my feelings on her hypothetical nomination and presidency have definitely much to do with a rejection of the Old Guard—that faction I once thought BIll Clinton could shake up. But in thinking through some of it this morning, I wonder how much of that guard is lobbyists and Entrenched Washington Pollatix, and how much is Bill Clinton, himself.
Most importantly, I think Hillary can step aside from either one just as easily as she can suddenly shift her worldview. Which is to say, she cannot and will not. And there, my friends, is where the bias rests.