Monday, September 18, 2006

Culinary metaphor watch, politics edition--now with bonus metonymy!

Clinton left the White House angry, exhausted, and broke. He also had to live with the fact that he had hurt Al Gore in the 2000 election, thereby jeopardizing his Presidential legacy--and, as it turned out, so much else. Not a few people made the calculation that if Monica Lewinsky hadn't been on pizza duty during the government shut-down of 1995 (and Clinton not so predisposed to share the snack) there might have never been a Bush Presidency at all, or a hyped case for war in Iraq, a botched occupation, a skyrocketing budget deficit, a morally and bureaucratically bungled reaction to Hurricane Katrina, and a loss of American prestige around the world. His kingdom for a slice!
David Remnick's profile of Clinton 42 in The New Yorker of 18 Sept 06 offers this bit of fallacious historical reasoning, carefully presented with rhetorical finesse so as not to make the author seem unsophisticated. Remnick doesn't think that Clinton's dalliance with Lewinsky was the root cause of everything that is wrong with America, but not a few have made that calculation. Well not a few have made much worse calculations and so what? Is Remnick suggesting that Clinton torments himself with the thought that his oval office liaisons were the first step along a slippery slope down which we tumble to this day? Do those "not a few people" whose minds this thought crosses give it any credence? Perhaps Clinton thinks his actions were bad for him and even for Gore, but for the suffering New Orleanians and the Americans treated badly abroad because people despise Bush 43? And does he, like everyone who sympathizes with him, not know very well that there are others more culpable--say, the 97,421 Floridians who voted for Nader in 2000, or the five Justices of the Supreme Court who gave the Presidency to Bush, or the preposterous John Kerry who lost an election that any Dem should have won?

As important as Clinton's past personal woes or even those of the republic, though, the future (as far as lefty types are concerned) might depend on the presidential prospects of the would-be Clinton 44 whose reputation is inevitably tied to her husband's. And in Remnick's profile, we are constantly reminded of the double nature of Bill's reputation. He is on one hand brilliant, curious, indefatigable, and charismatic. But he is also on the other an inveterate horndog. Remnick seems to relish those details of Clinton's conversations when sex comes up, as if to remind us: if Hillary runs for president, here's what's coming. When Clinton talks about reading presidential biographies, the detail of them all he seems to find most fun is that John F. Kennedy slept with Jayne Mansfield when she was pregnant. And when visiting a natural history museum in Ethiopia Clinton launches into a description of bonobo behavior. These playful primates like to share food, and when the feast is done they jump each other and have group sex! Take out the "group" and this reproduces the sequence of those government-shut-down-of-'95 events. First Monica and Bill shared a snack, and then they shared a "snack."

What dogs Hillary as a public figure, politician, and candidate is not just that her health care scheme never came together, not just that she blamed a vast right wing conspiracy, not just that she carpetbagged into New York and pretended to like the Yankees, not just that she voted to go to war. It's a public perception that her husband doesn't desire her. Or, as Bill Maher put it (Rolling Stone, 24 Aug 06, 58), "The NASCAR crowd she thinks she can get votes from will never vote for Mrs. Blow Job. Never." Perhaps he gave his kingdom for a slice. Now what about hers?

2 Comments:

Blogger Kalyn said...

Brilliant.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Doug Barber said...

You *could* have begun this entry with my nominee for your "greatest hit": "If you want some of this raw meat, first you'll have to speak with my toy elephant" complete with the photo. That one still cracks me up.

9:20 AM  

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