Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pow - updated

This. In case anyone was getting nervous.

Also worth reading.

Update: I know it's premature to say, but Hillary Clinton's presidency began yesterday (kinehora pooh pooh). She is already acting as our Commander in Chief, protecting us against enemies foreign and -- in this case -- domestic. America is safer than it was 24 hours ago.

And it's very interesting to me that her first act as president was not an exercise in the wonkery that is her natural metier, but an aggressively political J'Accuse. The first woman President of the United States is going to take on the bad guys with brilliance and vigor. She is going to be a bracing and inspiring breath of fresh air -- as far from "the status quo" as it's possible to be.

Update 2: Think about how the world is different today because of this speech:

1) The terms of the election and the actors in it have been defined -- both Trump and Hillary. We now know what this contest will be about. We know who the contestants are. And we know which team will be playing offense. Hillary is the force of nature here, and Trump is a cardboard figure who will struggle to remain upright. We knew that just watching her (because we all agree with her definition of him -- even those who believe they support him), but if more proof were needed, Trump provided it in his pathetic (sic) response.

I had been thinking that Hillary's best plan for this campaign would be rope-a-dope -- namely, to stand off to the side and let Trump punch himself silly. There has never been a major party candidate in my lifetime who is as likely as Trump to strut into the middle of the ring and start punching himself in the head. I thought he would knock himself out.

But yesterday was not rope-a-dope, not Ali, not even float like a butterfly, sting like a bee (i.e., Obama). It was Mike Tyson in the first round, who famously said, "Everybody has a plan until they get hit." The Donald will, of course, continue to punch himself in the face and the balls (plenty of low blows). He'll be a regular Jim Carrey from Liar, Liar. But Hillary will not stand to the side and gesture to the audience while he does that. She will finish him off. She already has.

2) Bernie has been completely marginalized. This was a speech he could not give. He neither knows enough about foreign affairs or the world, nor is he capable of being the world's leader in anything like the way that Hillary described here. One can substitute his name for Trump's in the speech's most vivid and chilling passage, and the answers would be the same:
"Now imagine [Bernie Sanders] sitting in the Situation Room, making life-or-death decisions on behalf of the United States. Imagine him [Bernie] deciding whether to send your spouses or children into battle. Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account [his rallies and stump speech] at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal. 
"Do we want him making those calls – someone thin-skinned and quick to anger, who lashes out at the smallest criticism? Do we want his finger anywhere near the button?"
Yesterday Hillary enacted -- not just described, but embodied -- a kind of leader Bernie is incapable of being. She didn't mention his name, nor did she say anything about the contrast between the two of them-- because she didn't need to. It's like watching Olivier play Lear. He doesn't have to say, "Jerry Lewis can't do this." It's self-evident.

3) The questions about Hillary herself have been blown away. She doesn't have to answer her critics, because she has seized the agenda from them. Sure, they'll continue to natter about emails and Vince Foster and Benghazi -- but the majority of voters won't pay any attention to them. Trump can say "crooked Hillary" all he likes. It would be as if -- again with the Shakespeare -- an audience were walking out of a performance of Olivier's Lear and somebody said, "Well, okay, but you know the playwright was sued by his tailor." Absolutely no one would care. Absolutely everyone would regard such a person as silly.

4) Most importantly, we have all been reminded what real leadership, true gravitas, looks like -- and how it changes the way we feel about our prospects and ourselves. Obama may have thrilled a lot of people, but he didn't have this kind of depth or seriousness. FDR did, and so does she -- only hers is informed at an even deeper level by the seriousness of women's history and consciousness.

All of this is already evident in the coverage of the speech -- including from the left.

Eight years ago, something happened. A powerful woman allowed her heart to be seen in public, and the public (at least the female portion of it) fell hard.

Yesterday, something happened again -- not a transformative moment of vulnerability and shared humanity, but a moment of metamorphosis, the butterfly shucking its larval skin.

It's a new day.

Update 3: Gail Collins gets it.


Unknown said...

First it needs to be said -- Falstaff is on a roll. This is a fantastic piece! Just wow! Thank you for putting all of this in complete context.

The funniest thing about all of this is that The Donald -- and his followers -- probably don't realize what just happened to them. Even the Bernie supporters have to be looking at each other saying "what was that?"

She just crushed him.

Game. Set. Match.

Falstaff said...

Thanks, JP. I do feel as though we just saw history.

anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog since 2008, but finally feel compelled to comment.

As JP Frenza said, she crushed him.

You've quoted from Yeats many times and especially from his most excerpted poem, "The Second Coming". I've enjoyed introducing many of my blue collar co-workers in the last few years to that stirring original, as well as to relevant others ranging from T.S. Elliot to Edgar Lee Masters to A.E. Houseman. Their response to my random quotes was, approximately, "That's poetry?? But it's good!!"

The one word placement, of which Yeats is the absolute master, in that poem is in the line "Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world"

Hillary Clinton's speech hit over and over on anarchy and in describing Donald, implicitly and undeniably invoked the word "mere".

Falstaff said...

Wow -- and welcome to the conversation, Just Publish. I was also thinking of another Yeats line today, re the Hillary now emerging: "a terrible beauty is born" (with "terrible" not used in the sense of "really bad" but in the sense of inspiring "terror," of the kind the Greeks meant when they talked about tragedy producing terror and pity).

But... that's a bit grandiose. :)

Anyway, at least we're finally seeing one of the best who does not lack all conviction.

anonymous said...

Yep - and even though that "all conviction" line was aimed at stirring conservatives up against the Easter Rebellion, it still works here and now for an (in my not-so-humble opinion) better cause.

If -I- may be a bit pretentious, I thing that's the power and beauty of literature - it escapes its creators and belongs to everyone.