Sunday, May 25, 2008


Those who make a living flirting with catastrophe develop a faculty of pessimistic imagination, of anticipating the worst, that is often all but indistinguishable from clairvoyance.

-- Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Give disease so the swine will marry and propagate lies.
Tough luck for elected officials. The beast you see got fifty eyes.
Bring it on home. Spread the wealth. Play it cool, the hand's been dealt.
Now all the odds are in our favor. Save the victory speeches for later.

-- Clutch, The Mob Goes Wild

At first, inexplicably, I was ready to give Hillary Clinton some benefit of the doubt in her tactless invocation of RFK's assassination. The point seemed clear -- Democratic primaries are sometimes so contentious, they run into June. Of course, none of the previous ones have ever run this long; comparatively, this probably should have been settled back in February, or maybe even late '07. Still, the point seemed innocuous enough, if inaptly phrased.

But the more you think about it, the more you recall that very little that emanates from the Clintons is ever accidental; they perfected the black art of focus-group-driven triangulation, the both of them, always adding a theatrical cherry of rhetorical anguish on top. They loved them some gay folks, until that two-ply bumwipe DOMA got drafted. Bill was all about those rights for the humans when Milosevic got uppity, even though just a couple years prior, he sold the Turks artillery so's they could level a few thousand Kurdish villages, killing far more people than Milosevic actually did. When Srebrenica happens in a day, it's a certifiable atrocity; when it happens over the course of months or years, it hardly gets noticed. Cost of doing business, really.

Obviously it's not hard to find episodes of situational ethics from the Clintons' political history; indeed, moral convenience is the grease of political ascension in every party and every country. The fact is, despite our surface cynicism and misanthropy, we are still loath to ascribe truly morally craven impulses to persons who would aspire to be kingpreznit. This is more of a cringing from the mirror than any true moral purity.

But when cast against the antics of the past two primary weeks, Clinton's comment seems especially abysmal, at least in phrasing and timing, if not explicit intent. Look, we can sniff the quals of the Appalachian mossbacks all the doo-dah day, and make our PC pretenses at avoiding the easy stereotyping of inbred hicks hatin' them some nigras. But the fact of the matter is that Clinton carried Kentucky and West Virginia by 2:1 margins, and nowhere to be found was even an anomalous townie willing to stick up for Obama, though the media lives for such cooter-bites-dawg narratives, 'specially come horse-race season. The most notable aspect of the KY and WV primaries was the proportion of Clinton voters asserting their willingness to vote McCain rather than Obama, as if wishing to affirm everyone else's assumption that these idiots would rather fuck a knothole than pay attention.

Bottom line though -- what the hell is wrong with those people, and what the hell is wrong with her? She's not remotely stupid; she knows exactly what she's saying, and what it means to her remaining marketing niche. It's not that complicated. It could have been entirely accidental, and in fact probably was. But it's of a piece with everything else the Clintons have said and implied throughout the primaries, at least once her inevitability was undone.

She has been backed into a corner where literally her last best hope is to cater to a subset of spiteful, withered crackers, people who detested her and her husband a decade ago. Her bumptious technocratic refrains mean less to many of these people than the quadrennial opportunity to once again affirm their baseless assumptions and validate their toxic insecurities, apparently based on whatever chain e-mail has been passed into their Outlook box.

It should be less of a concern that HRC might damage her career or her party -- how many Republican congressmen have to be caught wearing diapers with hookers or trying to molest teenage pages before their edifice crumbles? -- than the fact that once again, instead of disempowering and/or forcefully repudiating the stultifying ignorance these lapel-pin/apostate Muslim goobers exhibit routinely, they are once again catered to as a coveted demographic niche.

This is less about her "mistake" in particular, and more about what her campaign has left to offer at this point. She's hoping to stick around just long enough for the lawyers to intervene and fuck everything up, which is as Bushian as you can get, while she stokes classist and racist resentments, which is as Nixonian as you can get. All that's left for her is the prize itself since, win or lose, her credibility is pretty much shot. Politics is full of animals who will do literally anything to win, but rarely does it seem to come quite so naturally.


thedevilzone said...

I'll see your fine Cluch quotation and raise you one:

Another southern-fried freak on a crucifix
Hicks don't mix with politics

~Red Hot Chili Peppers

I think more blog posts should start off with rock lyrics!

Anyway, ya know, I cut my political teeth out on the left wing, and only started coming in towards the center around 2000. I used to check Tom Tomorrow's site, and I had no idea what this "blog" thing was he kept referring to; I thought it was another site he had somewhere, and I was just looking at a website that was updated frequently. So it was mainly his links to people like Atrios that introduced me to the mainstream liberal bloggers.

And all I've really got to say is: it feels so good to see this kind of implosion of her campaign after having to endure years of grinding my teeth into nubs watching all those "sensible liberal" morons gush over her and the "Big Dog" like they were worth a strenuous shit.

It's kind of ironically amusing that WV became its own state by splitting away from us to join the Union, yet they've gotten the reputation as the inbred podunk wasteland. Which it pretty much is, to be honest, as a quick drive thru will show you - we at least went huge for Obama, and according to the WaPo, might even become full blue this fall.

(Hey, why do West Virginians fuck their sheep on the edge of a cliff? So the sheep will push back!)

thedevilzone said...

Mwahaha! Look what I saw today, right on cue. I'm sure you'll have the same favorite parts as me.

Heywood J. said...

Yeah, the "PhD in life" riff was comedy gold, and entirely predictable. It's the age-old "book smarts vs. street smarts" argument, and good luck getting advocates of either one to admit that both have some intrinsic value.

But when it comes down to people regurgitating entirely ignorant rationales for voting against themselves, fuck it -- I'm taking the so-called elitist route. There's no pride or glory in cognitive dissonance.

thedevilzone said...

I enjoyed seeing more of that old bullshit about how as long as these fellers can look you in the eye and get a strong handshake from you, they'll magically see into your soul and know you through and through. Yeah, ask Dubya how well that worked on Putin!

It's almost like an evolved version of the Noble Savage myth - the idea that these slack-jawed bumpkins are somehow closer to Reality and Truth because they do the same stupid shit their great-grandparents did in the same place and have no desire whatsoever to see if maybe there's anything else in this wide world.

Heywood J. said...

Right, the way they bought Fred Thompson's happy horseshit on his Senate campaign, where he'd drive his Lexus to a nearby parking lot, hop into his rented red pickup truck, and be driven a couple miles to Cooter's Gulch to hitch up his suspenders and roll the goobers with his Junior Samples routine. They're like dogs -- give 'em a scratch behind the ears and a ball of stale ground beef, and they'll curl up at your feet while you rob their house.

I've lived in the city, and I've lived in the sticks, and I can say unequivocally that city folks have much better bullshit detectors. It's not even close. City people assume that everyone's trying to get one over on them; they accept it and proceed accordingly. They are more realistic about their expectations of a political candidate and what that person will do.

Political media out here in the boonies -- mailings, billboards, letters to the editor, talk radio -- are almost 100% attuned to the weird notion that a politician, rather than simply running things with efficiency and integrity, must rigorously and accurately affirm each and every one of the voters' most personal convictions. It is a deeply, almost pathologically personalized bastardization of what politics is actually supposed to be.

Some of them are literally still pissed that Bill Clinton got hisself some blowjobs in the Oval Office. They will drive over miles of potholed roads, past hundreds of thousands of square feet of unused commercial space and scores of rundown houses, to make sure everyone knows how upset they are about fags a-gittin' hitched.

thedevilzone said...

Shit, how did I forget to mention the four simple words that offset all this babble about country boys being able to pick out a slick-talkin' snake-oil salesman a mile away? Must be the allergy meds.

Well, lemme remedy that: Larry the Cable Guy.

The fact that all these 'tards are so happy to yell catchphrases associated with the most famous not-a-redneck-but-he'll-take-your-money-by-playing-one-on-teevee ever should end this kind of garbage for good.