There are times when I wonder if Hillary Clinton gets it. Why she lost and the reasons for it. If she is so out of touch with the malevolence, both public and private, the vitriolic hatred of her, the mistrust, misguided as it was today as it was nine months ago, then she is as clueless today as she was last fall.
I write this because her book is coming out soon and from the title, “What Happened,” it seems she still doesn’t understand. She doesn’t understand the disconnect between resentment and perception, the constant chants of “Crooked Hillary,” “Lock her up,” and “Benghazi! Benghazi!! BENGHAZI!!!,” even though countless investigations of her found nothing. But the perception of her, so crafted over 30 years as something that she’s not, from Richard Mellon Scaife’s constant attacks on her to Sean Hannity’s recent assertions that she had Seth Rich killed, just like Vince Foster (both untrue, but as was bore out last fall, the truth doesn’t matter to these people). In her book, “Dark Money, the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” Jane Mayer describes the lengths to which Scaife went to discredit Clinton, both of them, in the never-ending battle to destroy the social safety net that these people, whom most Americans have never heard of, see as the work of communism or hippies. Or Saul Alinsky.
They always have a boogyman. Someone to scare the less-than-college educated into believing that with just a few changes, we could go back to the days of Make Room for Daddy, Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver.
Well, that America never existed, either. But a segment of America has always longed for that kind of America, a homogeneous, white picket fence America where kids play until the street lights come on. Where milk was delivered every day by the milkman and every one had a perfect family. Which, of course, was absurd. But still, they believed in that fantasy.
John Steinbeck once observed that Americans see themselves as temporarily poor, soon-to-be-rich beyond their wildest dreams. But of course, that never happened. So people worked and were promised if they worked hard enough and long enough, they would get rewarded when they retired. Except, it never happened but for a few.
This is how we ended up with Donald Trump. A voter in Pennsylvania said, in describing the difference between Trump and Clinton, “I actually understand what he’s saying,” he told Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, “but, like, when fricking Hillary Clinton talks, it sounds like a bunch of bullshit.”
We are now 200 days into “Absurd America.” In eight years, we have gone from “Yes, we can,” to “I want my country back,” to “fuck it.” We have a disingenuous, uninterested, greedy narcissist in the White House and a myopic dysfunctional Congress, put there by voters who either can’t or don’t see the end result of nearly a half-century of labyrinth ministrations of people most will never know or even recognize.
The zealotry of their efforts and the dismantling of the flow of progress through various ways and means — racism, misogyny, xenophobia, Saul Alinsky (who either co-wrote ‘Do the Loco-Motion’ or fixed the 1919 World Series) — which manifests itself in the demonizing of liberals, immigrants, the poor, disabled, seniors living on fixed incomes, voter fraud, climate change denial (which isn’t just a river in Africa) and staying on message since the days of Barry Goldwater and the John Birch Society.
In 2012, Grover Norquist, the man who has proudly said “I want to drown government in the bathtub,” on 60 minutes, told an audience at C-PAC, “we don’t need a statesman. We just need someone with enough working digits to operate a pen.”
Well he got his wish. But be careful what you wish for, there, Grover. Because Congress can’t seem to get the ball across the goal line. Even with a 30-vote majority in the House and a 52–48 edge in the Senate and a President who loves to make a show of signing (mostly) meaningless declarations, the drowning still hasn’t occurred.
We are 200 days into a Presidency that should never have been and might not last much longer. The same unseen forces that put the vulgar yam in office are now ruing their decision. Robert Mueller, the former FBI head, is looking into the tangled web of Trump, Inc. and could be making his case known very soon. There is a grand jury impaneled in DC (in addition to at least three others) and the GOP-controlled Senate refusing to adjourn for August recess as so the vulgar one doesn’t fire the Attorney General or Special Counsel.
This is madness. Not since Harding or James Buchanan have we seen the likes of this. This cannot continue much longer. The Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” seems apt, but we need to not only live through this, but survive. Whether we do or not remains to be seen.
Source material: Dark Money, The Hidden History Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer.
Insane Clown President, Dispatches from the 2016 Circus, pg. 283–84. By Matt Taibbi.