Showing posts with label Hillary Clinton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hillary Clinton. Show all posts

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Harsh Hillary

Back in the early days of Hillary Clinton's project aimed at becoming the Democrats' presidential nominee, I recall the unexpected warning of a perspicacious journalist who pointed out that many older Catholic women in the USA might tend to associate the concept of a female head of state with a widespread negative image from their adolescence: the stern nuns in convent schools.

At the time of my childhood in Australia, Audrey Hepburn probably did more than Rome to propagate the rigorous realities of a woman's existence as a bride of Jesus. But certain ex-students of Catholic schools, such as my aunt Nancy, for example, had their own vision of the intellectual style of some of these veiled women, many of whom were bigots of Irish ancestry. My mother Kathleen, who had attended a convent school in South Grafton, married my father, brought up in the Protestant Church of England, in Grafton's Anglican cathedral. The next day, a nun told the little girl Nancy that her sister Kathleen would surely end up in Hell because of her heretical marriage. And my future aunt was no doubt traumatized by this announcement.

I don't know to what extent Hillary might or might not sound at times, to some of her fellow citizens, like a stern nun. Be that as it may, there seemed to be a touch of fire and brimstone in her recent awkward reminder that a political candidate can be removed from the contest by the bullets of an assassin. One can't help thinking that Hillary was underlining the fact, maybe unconsciously, that this kind of calamity could arise because the assassin happened to dislike the candidate's religion or the color of his skin.

Talking about veiled women, I love the following photo, which I picked up some time ago on the Internet:

The only thing that's missing is the voice of the male photographer: "Ladies: Smile, please! "

Thursday, March 27, 2008

When lying becomes a family affair

I don't mind admitting that, once upon a time, when Bill Clinton looked us directly in the eyes and swore that he had never had any kind of sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, I was stupid enough to believe him, because he seemed to be so tremendously sincere. I even remember saying to myself: "What great willpower and strong character Clinton must possess, to be able to refuse the cuddly advances of sexy White House women. And what a pity he has to defend his honor courageously against all those nasty people who are trying to invent false reasons for overthrowing him."

On the other hand, as soon as I heard Hillary Clinton telling us how she scrambled across a tarmac under a shower of sniper bullets, something told me there was something wrong with her story. In particular, I found it weird that she should be smiling while relating this tale, as if her alleged courage were almost a matter-of-fact laughing matter. "You must realize, ladies and gentlemen: I'm so terribly brave in such circumstances that it's almost a joke."



I believe that Hillary Clinton's bid to become the Democratic presidential candidate will suffer irreparably through this silly lie.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, seems to have succeeded elegantly and efficiently in putting his former preacher friend Jeremiah Wright back into the glass museum case from which he should never have been extracted. If Obama himself had ever made any of the kinds of fiery declarations attributed to the pastor, there would certainly be cause for concern. But this is not the case. I don't find it alarming that Obama should count this crazy preacher among his friends. The world would be an impossible stage for aspiring statesmen if they were to be judged by their notorious friends.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Second-hand creativity

I've often denounced a parasitic offshoot of creativity that takes an existing instance of genuine inspiration and reworks it insipidly to produce a pale copy. The example I've always used when whining is that of blue jeans. Once upon a time, the first adolescents who were so emotionally attached to their battered old pants that they refused to throw them away, even when they had holes at the level of the knees and buttocks, were authentic creators, who had invented a new sartorial concept: that of clothes with worn threads... not only at the seams. A variation on this theme was the case of kids whose jeans were a shade too long, so that they tended to put their heels on the cuffs of their pants, which would soon become threadbare and scruffy, often muddy. Another example of the bond between youngsters and their jeans was the idea of using a needle and thread to attach some kind of personal emblem to this mass-produced clothing whose aspect had become standardized. Some kids sewed on a cloth badge of one kind or another, but the most brilliant invention consisted of devoting time and effort to embroider a colorful message to observers, maybe admirers: the wearer's nickname, or the name of his /her idol or loved one. Imagination was in power, as Parisian adolescents wrote on the walls of the city in May 1968, and there were no limits to the ways in which young people might express spontaneously their attachment to this second skin: their jeans.

Then the marketing men and the industrial product designers stepped into the picture... and that's where the annoying phenomenon of second-hand creativity took over. They invented nasty techniques to mass-produce artificially "used" jeans, to make them look discolored and threadbare, to "personalize" them with badges and embroidery...

The notorious Hillary 1984 video (whose author has just been unmasked) provides us with a typical case of second-hand creativity. [Click here to see it on YouTube.] The primordial Macintosh ad, which ran on TV 23 years ago, was an extraordinary and daring work of creation. No such praise can be attributed to the messy mashup that has nevertheless just scored over two million hits on YouTube. This pale copy carries no clear message, but it manages to make Hillary Clinton look good in her Big Sister role. Meanwhile, the anonymous author was frankly dishonest when suggesting that the video might have been produced by Obama's team.

The concept of second-hand humor is similar to that of second-hand creativity. What I mean is that somebody invents a great joke, and then other dim-witted folk believe they can be funny by constructing insipid variants of the initial story. Some kind of general principle seems to be at play, meaning that second-hand things are inevitably dull. In the village, the witty innkeeper once invented a disdainful description for the endless series of new girlfriends, often mature ladies, whom his buddy used to bring along to the bar on the back of his motorcycle. The innkeeper referred to them by a French expression that can be translated as second-hand women.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Don't knock Hubby!

Up until today, the Socialist presidential candidate Ségolène Royal had a dynamic and outspoken spokesman, 44-year-old Arnaud Montebourg. Unfortunately, last night on television, he cracked a trivial joke. An interviewer asked him if Ségolène, in her presidential campaign, was bogged down by any handicap. Montebourg replied spontaneously, with a grin: "Ségolène Royal has a sole weakness: her partner." Now, this kind of a joke didn't go down well with the boss. During the night, Montebourg realized that he had committed an idiotic faux pas, of the kind that cannot be tolerated in the context of such a saintly female as Ségolène. At dawn, he submitted his resignation, while explaining that his words were intended as a pure joke. Acting magnanimously in the style of a soccer referee who wants the game to go on calmly, in a dignified manner, Ségolène told her spokesman that his remarks were "out of place", and she suspended him for a month. For a political party whose emblem is the red rose, you might call that, in soccer terms, a pink card.

It takes a lot of imagination for French observers to figure out the possible consequences of this novel situation in which the female candidate is in fact, in everyday life, the partner of the chief of France's Socialist party, François Hollande. Everybody in France knows that Bernadette Chirac, the wife of the French president, has devoted a lot of energy over the last decade, in liaison with the judo champion David Douillet, to a huge charitable operation that consists of collecting small coins (referred to as "yellow pieces" in French) to benefit hospitalized children in France. A wag suggested that, if ever Ségolène were to replace Chirac, then François Hollande might take over this charitable work of Bernadette.

The husbands of female chiefs of state are a fascinating subject. We've become accustomed to the chap named Philip Mountbatten who has been walking along unobtrusively in the wake of Elizabeth II for the last half a century. Then there was the delightful case of the likable hubby named Denis Thatcher who had been courageous enough to marry the future Iron Lady.

If ever the Democratic senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected as the future president of the USA (an idea that pleases me greatly), it will be interesting to see whether she decides to hire her husband for some kind of White House job. On the other hand, it's understandable that Hillary might not like the idea of putting Bill in a situation where he could be tempted to prowl around once again among the female office staff.