by Reed Galen

Monday, April 13, 2015

Days Until Iowa Caucus: 294

Officially Declared Candidates:

  • Sec. Hillary Clinton (D)
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R)
  • Dr. Ben Carson (R)
  • Sen. Jim Webb (D)

Quote of the Week: "Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Macbeth Quote (Act V, Scene V).

Welcome to the American Singularity.

Why the Singularity?

·      The presidential nominating process is one in which everything, large and small, is sucked into its gravitational maw, allowing nothing to escape its grasp as events pass through the campaign cycle’s event horizon.

·      There is no more singular political experience on the planet than electing the President of the United States.

·      The United States is still the most free, most prosperous and brightest beacon of hope to billions around the world.

Every action and reaction feeds into this black hole of press coverage, donor reactions, voter sentiment and activist opinions. Nothing goes unnoticed and nothing is forgotten. Legions of reporters, bloggers, opposition researchers, trackers, social media monitoring services, vacuum up every last syllable.

 Every week we’ll take a look at the campaign as it unfolds, and how events reflect the campaigns, the issues of the day and the country at large. Have a tip, piece of advice or something to add? Email me – reed@jedburghs.com

Today: Is Hillary Clinton A Reflection of America?

First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the White House yesterday. In a series of tweets and a video, Clinton tries to make everyone feel good and mostly kept herself out of it. Only at the tail end does she appear before her Westchester manse, to let us know she’s ready to lead us.

Hillary Clinton' s Announcement Video

But even as she mounts her second run for the presidency, in her third decade in American public life, she still lacks rationale. Even press reports suggest she’s just now, after climbing into the Scooby Van, laying out why she should be president. One would think, that if someone had nearly a decade to think about the presidency, they’d know inherently why they want to be leader of the free world.

Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) announces she's running for president in a social media video co-starring her husband, Bill Clinton (Darrell Hammond). Courtesy Saturday Night Live/NBC Universal

Is Hillary a reflection of who we are as a country? We want what we want, we want it now, and we want someone to give it to us. We consider ourselves exceptional, but we’re too often not willing to work hard enough to actually be exceptional.

We obsess over Facebook likes and Twitter followers. We want to see how many little hearts we got on our latest Instagram post. But none of it has substance. It’s only as real as having your smartphone turned on. Hit the off switch (God forbid) and it doesn’t exist.

Hillary’s campaign appears to be built on a similar ethos. They will have reams of data, millions of fan boys and followers, all signifying nothing. While Barack Obama was a vessel to be filled with the hopes and dreams of millions of Americans tired of war, tired of Republicans and scared for their future, Clinton is a puzzle piece. She fits in the corner, but doesn’t complete the picture.

While Clinton has done decidedly more with both her life and her career than your average reality television star, they both rely on pure celebrity – and it’s ability to generate light and noise to push their own agendas. Hillary is the product in and of herself – hoping cheeky ‘candid’ photos will make all of us “everyday Americans ” nod our heads and whisper “She gets it…”

Music video by Sly & The Family Stone performing Everyday People. Originally released 1968. All rights reserved by Epic Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Much like the glitterati that so many people follow on social media, we will get to see Clinton’s fancy cars, entourage and private jets. Instead of Miami Beach, she’ll land in Muscatine. Like a socialite hosting a New Year’s Eve party in Las Vegas, Hillary will show up for an exact period of time and rather than collecting her fee, will collect votes and air time. When the minimum requisite amount of work has been done, she will be off with a royal flourish, onto the next crowd of adoring fans.

While she wants to be the person that fights for “us,” “we” will take a backseat to whatever larger agenda the Clintonistas are pushing. That, too, will be opaque. We won’t really know what they want to do. Hillary is no Bill either strategically or on the rope line.  She’ll be there, she’ll shake your hand, but you’re not reaching her, and she doesn’t feel your pain. You’re a box to be checked – yep, we hit the Seashore today, what’s next?

Whether you like Barack Obama or not, he was very clear about what he wanted to accomplish in office and what his agenda would look like. The Clintons are preternaturally unable to be that definitive – and it is not altogether a bad governing strategy. As my father-in-law likes to say, “Indecision is the key to flexibility.”

As we watch the “Freak Show” unfold this year, we’ll expect the contestants to sit on the couch and scream at each other as Andy Cohen referees the proceeds while sipping a cocktail. Hillary will participate in this ugliness only long enough to receive credit for doing so. She’s above all this.

Social media is ubiquitous and cheap so all politicians use it to the greatest extent possible. Clinton will likely take it even a step further – probably creating the first campaign that is actually more “virtual” than it is physical. No doubt she’ll have thousands of people working on her behalf, but Hillary herself is more likely to appear as a hologram at Coachella than in person at a steak fry in Charleston.

She doesn’t have to actually be there in person, because she’s been there on our TV screens and smartphones for so long. Her communication with voters and ultimately Americans writ large will come in perfectly proportioned, easy-to-digest pabulum – “I’m fighting for you!” Call it the TV Dinner strategy.

A perfectly proportioned TV dinner. Courtesy Loyola Marymount University

A perfectly proportioned TV dinner. Courtesy Loyola Marymount University

Hillary Clinton might be the perfect candidate for our time. She glides easily along the surface of the shallow waters of today’s media and political discourse. Nothing is asked of her except to be famous, and she gives us that when we need it – but not too much, and not too often.

She’s an unfortunately excellent reflection of America in 2015. We care too little, too often for things that matter. Instead, we take pride in having clicked “Like” on a YouTube video and believe that is having done “something.” Maybe as Joseph de Maistre said, she’s the government we deserve.