America’s Ex-Wife


image1The number of American presidential candidates varies with the sunspot cycle and the phases of the moon. Being a Republican, I’m backing Hillary Clinton.  Because she could lose.  The reason is not that she’s a woman.  The reason is that she’s the particular woman who taught the 4th grade class that every man in America wished he were dead in.  Hillary Clinton is Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.  Hillary Clinton is “America’s ex-wife.”  ~PJ O’Rourke

 I have to sheepishly confess my petty satisfaction when Obama garnered the democratic nomination for President.  It was pure schadenfreude for many watching Hillary Clinton cede her manifest destiny.  I am still not entirely sure why she bugs the hell out of me.  I begrudged her candidacy each painful step of the way.  It was the first time I felt like voting against someone instead for someone.  And yet, on the day it became clear that Obama had the mandate from his party, I felt a twinge of guilt.  Was it me?  Or was it her?

Many may vehemently disagree with me, but I have concluded that Hillary Clinton was perhaps the most qualified in the field of presidential nominees – both Democratic and Republican.  Wait, wait, don’t roll your eyes and groan.  Even my father, an ardent anti-Clintonite, agrees with me that as president, she may have very well turned out to be the most balanced – tough, focused and as a beltway insider, perhaps most bipartisan.  I have no doubt some of her policies would have had impact on those already concerned about being in too high a tax bracket and given shivers to those laboring in industries that would prefer less regulation and government intrusion.  Yet, curiously, our aversion to Mrs. Clinton seems to be driven less by her policies and politics and more by her persona.  It seems we focus less on what she is saying because we’re so focused on how she is saying it.  What is it about Hillary that gets so far under our skin?

I asked a psychologist friend to help me deconstruct my visceral reaction to Citizen Clinton in hopes that I might come to grips with my Hillary heartburn.  After hours of analyzing my misspent youth, relationship with my mother, ex-girlfriends, conservative father – all the while having me play with a GI Joe to get in touch with my inner child – he offered several theories..

1)    Latent Misogynist – This suggested that I secretly hated all women, particularly women who possessed intellect, confidence and ability.  Given that I married a woman who brought many of these attributes to our relationship, I could confidently say I was not harboring a secret nostalgia for the good old days “whar’ women folk was in the kichun’ bar’foot and pregnunt.”  I actually loved the fact that my teenage daughter had a role model who was cutting a path all the way to the White House.  Just why did it have to be Hillary?

2)    Clinton Hatred – I voted for Bill Clinton – twice.  He did a good job as President.  I recognize he was helped by a Republican congress that would not let him drift too far left.  Bill was and is a charismatic windsock – blowing in whatever direction the breezes of public opinion direct him.  However, he made you feel like you were important and possessed a great ability to motivate people into action.  I also spent several years living overseas and witnessed the incredible surfeit of goodwill the Clinton presidency accumulated for America, which the Bush administration has now overdrawn like a profligate teen.  Hillary was there every step of the way – physically, emotionally and intellectually.  And, if Primary Colors is to be believed, the woman some have dubbed “Lady Macbeth” had a lot to do with Bill’s success, including sweeping up behind his many personal transgressions.

3)    Clinton Conspiracy Theorist – What really happened to Vince Foster?  What about the mysterious deaths befalling the state troopers who had provided protective services for Bill during his alleged extracurricular activity?  Is Hillary really Jimmy Hoffa?  Oliver Stone, is there a grassy knoll here?

4)    Xenophobia – From the moment Hillary “took on healthcare” during the ‘80s, I was annoyed at her gall to tackle something as complicated, dysfunctional and profoundly in need of change as the US healthcare system.  Besides, she was proposing changes that would effectively mess with my industry’s mess…and my livelihood.  I mean, how dare she?  It didn’t matter that our efforts to date had done nothing to really fix the problems.  Who was this presumptuous interloper talking about healthcare purchasing cooperatives and increased regulation?  The male chauvinist in me wanted to yell, “Hey, lady, I smell something burning in the White House kitchen!”  It did not matter to me, or Harry and Louise for that matter, that much of what she was saying had merit.

5)    Political and Economic Mistrust – I was genetically programmed from the time of conception to distrust anyone who espoused the 3 R’s: regulation, redistribution or redistricting.  The road to serfdom is carved by politicos who enjoy spending other people’s money advocating collectivism and a massive centralized government.  Hillary scared me on several occasions with her bellicose rhetoric against business and free market economics.  She had a penchant for distorting issues that I felt did not inform the public’s IQ around energy, healthcare and foreign policy.  Here’s the problem: we are in the midst of a Republican presidency that has presided over historic deficit spending and its own dubious distortions.  So how can I hammer Hillary when the neo cons have led us so deep into a quagmire of self-inflicted decline.

At the end of our session, my counselor said he was pleased with my progress but that my recovery would still probably take years.  He recommended that I repeat over and over “Kenneth Starr swims out to meet troop ships” while walking around the house wearing Ilsa, the She-wolf, pumps.  We agreed that I should continue my therapy as one thing was for certain: Hillary Clinton is a fixture in American politics and will be a constant storm on the horizon.  With our country’s never-ending jet stream of social, economic and political crosswinds, she will remain an omnipresent low pressure system drawing purpose and strength from inequity in America.

Yes, Hillary has been voted off the island. But don’t count her out.

She’ll be back….

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