MUST READ--IT'S GREAT! Pig In A Pastel...
Only a few days have passed since Hillary Clinton announced she is running for president, but already it is clear that much forbearance will be required from us all in the long months ahead. This is not just because Mrs Clinton has started wearing ominous pastels and smiling a lot, or appeared to enjoy a joke apparently about her husband's sexcapades in the White House — although these things do, of course, matter.
No, what is so lowering about Hillary and her rush for power is the merciless, unapologetic, chisel-eyed way she has pursued her presidential ambitions over the past few years, and her blatant attempt to make over her naturally acrid persona into something that American voters might find palatable.
Even from an ocean away it makes painful viewing, like watching someone trying to fold a balloon into a matchbox, or form a rounded human being out of leftover ectoplasm and a Martha Stewart wig. Yet the New York senator seems unstoppable in her aspirations, attempting a soft-focus rebrand on herself as a homemaker of meek views and kindly disposition, ready to whisk around with the duster, cook Bill a nice, eggy supper and sort out world problems at the same time.
In her new pearls and heart-shaped lockets, those telling little trinkets she hopes will send out the subliminal message that she is a biddable soubrette at heart, Mrs Clinton has become shameless in her pursuit of high office and the Hillary-lite ideal. Her official website reveals that the woman who once sneered at Tammy Wynette wives who baked cookies now talks of the inner calm that she finds in housework and gardening, and of how cleaning out her closets brings relief from worrying about North Korea and Iran. "I can't get my arms around that," she says, modestly acknowledging that there are bigger global problems that she can contend with, although folding sweaters and chucking out old tights, alongside the occasional skeleton, is an enjoyable breeze in comparison.
What happened to the forbidding woman who first stepped into the public arena 15 years ago, the militant feminist who was not afraid to air her difficult views on stay-at-home mothers and abortion on demand? Sister, she has long gone, dissolved in an acid bath of burning ambition, alongside the First Lady Hillary who had an agenda of her own in trying to push through healthcare reforms that appalled many Americans, but fitted with her own bossy, liberal views.
With the voting landscape now dominated by moral values and faith-based groups who wield enormous power and are easily affronted, Senator Clinton's route march to the White House must remain free of controversy, and if that means shaping herself into a vanilla vision of impeccably centrist views and somehow distancing herself from her own initial support of the Iraq war and other pesky matters such as gun control and gay marriages, then so be it. Not that any of this is going to be easy.
Mrs Clinton reminds too many Americans of the international embarrassment and sexual psychodrama of her husband's administration, an experience many would rather forget. Naturally, the far Right doesn't like her much, but even among Democrat supporters, she polarises opinion as if she was political Marmite: people either absolutely love her or utterly loathe her, although all are agreed that a little Hillary goes a long way.
There is even a thriving Hate Hillary industry that sells "I Hate Hillary" T-shirts, mouse mats and car bumper stickers, and feeds on the foaming bile of Hillary-hating blogs. Many of Mrs Clinton's detractors find it particularly annoying that she has made gender the focal point of her campaign, perhaps in an attempt to neuter the enthusiasm being whipped up around Barack Obama's bid to become the first black US president.
"I'm a woman and I'm a mom," croons Hillary-lite, while complaining about the double standards she must endure regarding comments on her clothes and her hair. Yet none of this is trivial. Everything Mrs Clinton now does and says is a deliberate political statement, from the honey streaks in her hairdo to the girly pinks she chooses to camouflage herself in, although the effect of the latter is unconvincing: think killer shark prowling the shallows in a party frock.
Of course, all politicians are guilty of a little repositioning and shaving of principles when the occasion suits, but until Hillary Rodham Clinton came along, no one has ever dared to politically morph themselves to quite such an astounding degree. Will it work? Let's hope not.