Hillary hits the road for the White House … again

On the Edge

Áine Ryan

Hillary hits the road for the White House … again

On The Edge
Áine Ryan

SO Hillary is back. Not exactly a surprise, is it? When Obama outflanked her in the 2008 presidential election, there had to be some wheelin’ and dealin’ and her appointment as Secretary of State for his first term was a perfect and pragmatic launch-pad for her continuing trajectory back to the White House, this time round as President and not First Lady.
That old nugget of a joke about herself and Bill speaks volumes, or does it? She and Bill were out for a drive when they ran into an old flame of hers who still works as a mechanic.
“Just think,” says Bill, as they drove away. “If you had married him, you’d be the wife of a mechanic today.”
“No,” she replies. “If I’d married him, I’d be the wife of the President of the United States.”
But really, whether Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is a virago who will walk over hot coals, and bodies, in her bid to be the most powerful woman in the western world, is pretty matterless this time around. The symbolism of a first female president of the United States seems to have faded since Obama became the first black president. Citizens rights have occluded the once emotive and powerful clarion call of feminists for equality in the western world. (Of course, that doesn’t mean the gender card will not be used.)  
Gender issues have been subsumed by the demands of more general economic equality since the global crash exposed deeply unfair societies throughout the west.
While the cosmetic focus on the recent launch of her campaign stressed a softer image and use of language, the reality is it will be the policies and her appeal to key demographic groups that will get her ultimately elected.

IT is worth remembering that her Senate vote authorising the 2003 war on Iraq  exposed a key policy weakness and offered a significant opportunity to those on her left in the Democratic party’s primary race for the White House eight years ago. From that more left-wing flank rose the relatively unknown, but gifted orator, Barack Obama, who garnered mass appeal with younger and more radical voters.
However, it may well now work in Hillary’s favour that the issue driving Democratic activists more than any other is income inequality and its huge impact on lower and middle-income Americans who have watched their living standards decrease over the last two decades while feeling (a bit like many struggling in the same income bracket here in Ireland) they will not benefit from the fruits of the economic recovery.
The increasing chasm between the Democratic and the Republican parties should act in her favour, with the increased wealth of the rich pushing the policies of the latter party further to the right. Commentators highlight the fact that modest tax hikes have infuriated Wall Street and further confirmed a political polarisation between the two parties that has not been in evidence since the Civil War.
Whether her own political baggage and that of her husband’s is used effectively to erode these potentially ideal circumstances is a matter for conjecture. Who knows what the increasingly intrusive media will dredge up during the next 18 months?

WHAT is a certainty is they will parse, analyse and question her new image as a doting grandmother. It is interesting that just before her ‘low key’ launch, her publishers released an updated version of her second memoir, ‘Hard Choices’. In the epilogue, referring to her baby granddaughter, she writes: “I’m more convinced than ever that our future in the twenty-first century depends on our ability to ensure that a child born in the hills of Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta or the Rio Grande Valley grows up with the same shot at success that Charlotte will.”
Reportedly, the new maternal Hilary will be warm and spontaneous not like the chilly, scripted candidate of 2008. Unsurprisingly, she will be the champion of the average American while capitalising on the allure of becoming the first woman president.
Seems like a simple campaign strategy.
But why then does she need to spend a staggering and obscene $2.5 billion to make her the income equality champion grandmother of the US? Wouldn’t she have been better off spending a weekend with that mechanic she dumped for Bill? At least, then she’d know what it’s really like to live on the edge.


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