Gore Vidal Takes on The World — Again

Gore Old

God, I can’t help but love the old bas­tard.  Another tour-de-force from Gore Vidal (inter­viewed by Tim Teeman) appeared in The London Times last week, in which, as usual, he said so many things, so very loudly that so many people know to be true but daren’t begin to mumble.

This frail, crippled, dia­betic, alco­holic, eighty-three-year-old man repeatedly and ener­get­ic­ally Gores Obama, for his ‘dread­ful’ per­form­ance as President, decries how he has ‘fucked up’ health­care, and most par­tic­u­larly how he has allowed him­self to be rail­roaded by the mil­it­ary into con­tinu­ing the American Imperialist pro­ject, some­thing Vidal has hero­ic­ally ded­ic­ated his life to attack­ing. He also expresses his deep regret over dump­ing feisty Hillary, his first choice, for this smooth-talking ingénue dur­ing the Democratic Primaries:

Hillary knows more about the world and what to do with the gen­er­als. History has proven when the girls get involved, they’re good at it. Elizabeth I knew Raleigh would be a good man to give a ship to.”

Vidal sug­gests that he was beguiled — as many clearly were in the Democratic Party — by the his­toric if not actu­ally romantic appeal of a black man as President of the United States.  Particularly one that was much more intel­li­gent than his white pre­de­cessor; but seems to have been dis­ap­poin­ted even in that department.

Vidal ori­gin­ally became pro-Obama because he grew up in “a black city” (mean­ing Washington), as well as being impressed by Obama’s intel­li­gence. “But he believes the gen­er­als. Even Bush knew the way to win a gen­eral was to give him another star”.

He also dis­cusses, or rather, disses, gay mar­riage — a sub­ject I wasn’t alas able to cover when I inter­viewed him earlier this year for Arena Hommes Plus. When Teeman asks, ‘Has love been import­ant to him?’ he responds blisteringly:

Don’t make the error that school­teacher idi­ots make by think­ing that gay men’s rela­tion­ships are like het­ero­sexual ones. They’re not.”

This one, simple, obvi­ously true state­ment is of course com­plete heresy for mod­ern American gays — who aren’t listen­ing any­way since most of them prob­ably don’t even know who Gore Vidal is.  Which is in itself damning enough.

Vidal puts on a scorn­ful, campy voice. “People ask {of he and Austen, his life-long com­pan­ion who died last year}, ‘How did you live together so long?’ The only rule was no sex. They can’t believe that.…

No, because if you wish to pre­tend that two men liv­ing together is just like a man and woman liv­ing together you have to pre­tend to the same lies and illu­sions het­ero­sexu­als do.

He is single now. “I’m not into part­ner­ships,” he says dis­missively. I don’t even know what it means.” He “couldn’t care less” about gay mar­riage. “Does any­one care what Americans think? They’re the worst-educated people in the First World. They don’t have any thoughts, they have emo­tional responses, which good advert­isers know how to pro­voke.” You could have been the first gay pres­id­ent, I say. “No, I would have mar­ried and had nine chil­dren,” he replies quickly and ser­i­ously. “I don’t believe in these exclus­ive terms.”

They cer­tainly don’t make ‘em like that any more.

The Liberal Media’s Hillarycidal Urges

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.

Limo Liberals Take The High Road to Defeat

By Mark Simpson

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?

Shame on her. How low can you go?

© Mark Simpson 2008

Who’s the Diva? Hillary or Obama?

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.

[you­tube kcdnlNZg2iM&eurl]

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.

Copyright Mark Simpson 2008

The Bitch is Back: Hillary Comes Out Clawing


After being written-off and told to give up, Hillary has earned grudging respect

By Mark Simpson (Guardian CIF, 6 March 2008)

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).

A bitch.

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