On the Edge
WHEN Barack Hussein Obama became the first black man to be elected as president of the United States on November 4, 2008, I cried. Just like millions of other people around the world. Writing a Mayo News column afterwards, I explored why this global sense of emotion had gripped people of all creeds, colour, gender and age.
This is part of what I wrote: “I cried, as did millions of others because cynicism had been replaced by idealism, gung-ho platitudes by intellectual pragmatism, elitism by the potential for egalitarianism, mumbling inaccuracies by inspiring rhetoric.” I wrote about how the spectre of slavery, of the Ku Klux Klan had, at last, been consigned to history books. I also wrote about how that historic moment was ‘the antithesis to the despair and ensuing global paranoia of 9/11’.
WHEN Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, felt unwell at a ceremony in New York marking this year’s anniversary of 9/11, the lack of sympathy by the media was palpable. On the other hand, the uncharacteristic sympathy expressed by her nemesis, Donald Trump was dubbed as mere pragmatism by the same media.
What a cynical and even sordid campaign for presidency is the 2016 one. Where did all the “Yes we cans” melt way to? Did Obama’s idealistic rhetoric mean nothing when the realities of the body politic cam home to roost? Why isn’t there a comparable feeling of hope imbued by the prospect of the first female becoming president of the US? Is it because the Clintons come as a package and Hillary is – subconsciously or consciously – blamed for sticking by her man? Blamed for overlooking all bold boy Bill’s pesky misdemeanours with women? Or is it that she is part of an elite far-removed from the everyday lives of ordinary Americans? Shouldn’t Hillary be gliding up Capitol Hill lest the Trumpian ogre comes within a mile of the Oval Office? Why do people not trust her? It seems all the scandals in which she becomes embroiled are widely overblown? So what if she kept some classified information on her personal email? Like, she wasn’t plotting a coup or a terrorism attack, was she?
So, what if she attempts to guard her privacy?
When she tripped last weekend and initially claimed it was the heat, was it a fatal error? Has she no right to have pneumonia and not tell the whole world?
ONCE again an hysterical media’s propensity for inappropriate intrusion is clearly displayed for the cheap thrill of tabloid-style headlines.
The Fourth Estate has turned the Clinton-Trump campaign into a circus. Just because Hillary Clinton tried to keep working while ill she will be under an even more sustained scrutiny: pressure to release transcripts of her Wall Street speeches, records of her role at the Clinton Foundation, health records following a concussion incident some years ago.
She has already released her tax returns. (Interestingly, Donald Trump hasn’t. I wonder why?) So, is there a different standard of transparency demanded from him? Could it be because she is a woman?
According to one sympathetic Guardian columnist, Clinton needs to reveal everything – even if it is not, effectively, in the public interest. Hillary Clinton’s best riposte to Trump, according to columnist, Jill Abramson, is ‘radical transparency’.
But Abramson writes: “She will resist doing this because she resents being held to a higher standard of transparency than Trump or other male politicians. She resents being scrutinised more heavily than men, which she is. That unfairness was on display once again last week on the presidential forum televised by NBC, when the host, Matt Lauer, grilled Clinton over and over again about her emails while letting Trump skate by with outright lies.”
Like the majority of politicians in the western world, Hillary Clinton lives largely in a bubble of privilege and prestige. So, it was really refreshing to see her combative competitor, Bernie Sanders hold her Democratic principles to account from a leftist perspective. Well, the Clintons are millionaires and Donald Trump is a billionaire.
During a speech in Philadelphia in 2008, she said: “I think I’m probably the most transparent person in public life” – adding that “I feel you know a lot more about me than you know about anyone else. Much of it untrue, but nevertheless, it’s all out there.”
It is well past time to give the woman a break.