Hillary Clinton: the post modern and the real

Sam Smith

More than a few of Hillary Clinton’s supporters remind me of Mormons or Scientologists in that their faith is considered infinitely more important than any facts. And if you sully that faith with facts, then – just as the way critics of Israel are so quickly dubbed anti-Semitic – you become a “Clinton hater” and part of a “vast rightwing conspiracy.”

Having lived with this nonsense for more than a score of years, it doesn’t bother me, although I still wonder how you can hate something that has no consistent or tangible character.

Further, as one of the earliest (and too few) spillers of Clinton facts, I got my first information not from vast right wing conspirators but from an Arkansas progressive student group. Yet, before I was through, I had been banned from CSPAN and a DC local NPR station. Nobody actually questioned the facts, just who they pertained to.

I was not alone. Some ten reporters covering the Arkansas scandals were fired, transferred off the beat, resigned or otherwise got into trouble.

I came to see the hyper-reality of the Clinton saga as the true introduction to America’s post-modern political era.

As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes:

Baudrillard presents hyperreality as the terminal stage of simulation, where a sign or image has no relation to any reality whatsoever, but is “its own pure simulacrum” The real, he says, has become an operational effect of symbolic processes, just as images are technologically generated and coded before we actually perceive them… “From now on,” says Baudrillard, “signs are exchanged against each other rather than against the real”

We face an election in which Democrats – and liberals in particular – are joyfully supporting the first First Lady to come under criminal investigation, a candidate who had nine major fundraisers or backers convicted of, or pleading guilty to, crimes, who had three close business associates end up in prison, and who – in just one appearance before a congressional committee – claimed that she didn’t remember, didn’t know, or something similar some 250 times.

But while reality doesn’t mean much anymore, the battle of signs and symbolism has taken its place. And even in a post-modern world, it’s fair to analyze the impact of it all.

If you listen to the Democrats, things could hardly be rosier. For example, Brent Budowsky actually wrote in the Huffington Post:

It is very possible that Hillary Clinton will be elected president by a substantial margin, return the Senate to Democratic control, name Supreme Court justices who will create a liberal court for a generation and help elect enough Democrats to the House to have a working majority in Congress for history-making progressive achievements, beginning with her first 100 days in the White House.

The problem with this assessment is that it bears no relationship to reality. Forgetting for the moment how the GOP has gerrymandered congressional districts, consider the running averages of polls in a number of key states.

In Colorado, for example, Hillary Clinton is in single digit proximity to all the major Republican candidates and even trails Rand Paul. In Florida she is only two points ahead of Bush. In Iowa she has only a single digit lead over all the Republicans except for Cruz. In New Hampshire she has only a single digit lead over Bush and Paul. In Virginia her lead is single digits against the pack. And the same is true of Wisconsin, except for Huckabee.

But aren’t single digits enough? On election day, yes. But more than a year and half ahead of the vote it is a serious warning signal.

For example, although Democrats like to blame the loss of the 2000 election on Nader, in fact Nader’s position hardly varied during the campaign but – still unrecognized by either the media or Gore’s backers – Bush’s poll average went from minus nine to plus six in just the last two months.

Another factor in the race that didn’t get reported was that 68% of voters thought Bill Clinton would go down in history more for his scandals than for his leadership. 44% said that the scandals were somewhat to very important and 57% thought the country to be on the wrong moral track.

And Gore wasn’t even married to Bill Clinton.

It is worth noting how silent the Republicans have been about Hillary Clinton. With her huge lead, the last thing they want to do is discourage Democrats from nominating such a prospectively attractive target. But once nominated this will undoubtedly drastically change and the moderates and undecided will hear things about the Clintons that the media has chosen not to tell them all these years.

In short, the Democrats are on their way to nominating a political IUD that could explode at a time or place unexpected. The sad thing is that Hillary Clinton has so hogged their attention that they don’t really have an alternative any more.

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