by Bob Cesca
The standard format for role-playing video games is essentially to fight off various smaller enemies, and then, at the end of each level or at the end of the game, the main character must confront a “boss.” Bosses are either bigger and more powerful or, at the very least, more difficult to defeat than the previous rogues gallery of enemies. Invariably, the boss confrontation forces us to utilize the skills and coordination we accumulated while fighting our way through that level.
After watching this week’s episode of PBS’s Frontline, titled “The Choice,” about the dual lives of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I’ve gained an entirely new appreciation for Hillary Clinton as a woman and as a public servant, not to mention the journey that Hillary’s taken to arrive at this lofty station in her political career. Unlike a video game, obviously, her journey has been strikingly real with tangible consequences — real emotions and real ambitions, with soul-crushing doom lurking at each turn.
While Hillary’s life has been spent serving the greater good through activism and political change, be it on her own or in her complicated partnership with President Clinton, Trump’s life, meanwhile, has been spent enriching his own wealth and brand. Badly. Comparatively, Hillary’s goals have been outward; Trump’s goals have been inward. Namely, Hillary has become a better person for her experience, while Trump has only endeavored to become a bigger year-over-year dick. Accordingly, Frontline walked us through Trump’s life of failed business decisions; the lavish spending of other people’s money; the unforgivable and brutally racist demonization of the Central Park Five; and more than a few horrendous choices that ought to have been major campaign issues but which simply haven’t been.
Sure, Hillary’s track record hasn’t been spotless. Whose is? But her goals and motives have always been laser-focused on country first. Trump, on the other hand, probably can’t name all the states and capitals.
It’s almost as if both candidates are being confronted by the ghosts of their pasts. In Trump, Hillary is facing an amalgam of all the misogynistic rat-bastards who’ve fought to hold her back. Conversely, Trump is facing an opponent who represents, in a way, all of the women he’s wronged — only this time, it’s very likely he won’t win, despite the crazy-strength of his psychoses.
Yet in the face of all the mayhem, there’s something poetic about this campaign. After fighting for the approval of her father; after fighting the good-old-boy network in Arkansas — men who demanded that she change her hair and lose weight in order to be taken seriously as a First Lady; after fighting Newt Gingrich and the “vast right wing conspiracy”; after her fight against Rudy Giuliani; and after her temporary fights against current-day allies Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders, Hillary only has Boss Trump remaining in her path.
Until now, I never really appreciated her lifelong struggle against an embedded patriarchy that’s tossed one enemy after the next into her path. Most of those enemies have ranged from sexist to fully misogynistic — some, like Obama or Sanders, have ultimately been benevolent foes, but they’re the exceptions — and too many of the fights have been waged simply because she’s a smart, driven, non-traditional woman.
One of the many stories about Hillary via Frontline included a time shortly after she moved from Washington to Arkansas in the ’70s. Several of her former colleagues from DC visited Hillary and joined her and Bill for a fundraising cookout. After dinner, they were shocked to learn that only the men, including Bill, were allowed to discuss politics in public. Sexist tradition and the Southern social order mandated that the women had to stay behind while the men absconded off to talk about very serious matters. During this and several other moments, Hillary, given her acumen and her own resumé, would’ve been justified in simply walking away from her marriage. The fact that she and Bill are still married through all of the cheating and humiliations, reveals, perhaps, a deeper love between the Clintons than they let on. Bill might be the only man in her life to whom she’s repeatedly acquiesced, and I’d like to believe that it’s out of big love more than political convenience or advantage, in spite of Bill’s many flaws,.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently. There’s only one Democratic politician who was destined to both confront and to, hopefully, defeat Trump and his unreal, undisciplined exercise in public masturbation. It’s no wonder she was able to so adeptly bait Trump into making a poop-flinging-monkey of himself during the first debate. She’s been forced to outflank one preening strongman after another, and she’s brilliant enough to have learned all of the best buttons to push.
Hillary’s been accumulating experience to that end and preparing to run against Trump for 68 years, but it’s not just Trump standing in her way now. It’s Trump and tens of millions of white, non-college educated fanboys who unapologetically idolize their orange messiah almost as much they hate Hillary. Why? Because she’s a woman and she’s a political juggernaut who refuses to quit. It’s also due to 30 years of false narratives and unfair caricatures that’ve relentlessly orbited Hillary, in part because she refuses to accept barefoot-and-pregnant as her station in life.
The truth is that Hillary Clinton is no more or less conniving or ambitious than anyone else in politics. But what separates her from her peers is her gigantic brain and her killer political instincts. When Barack Obama said there’s been no other candidate more qualified to be president than Hillary, he was 100 percent accurate. While Obama will always be “my president,” Hillary is one of those mythological characters who’s half human, half Resolute Desk. She belongs in the White House.
Hillary Clinton is an astonishing woman as well as a one-in-a-million role model for anyone who’s had to overcome great adversity to achieve great things. She might not be your BFF, but she doesn’t have to be. Contrary to what we’ve been sold for too many years, presidents don’t have to be besties — pals you’d have a beer with. Of course, I’d have a beer with Hillary on a moment’s notice, though I’m sadly aware of the unfortunate conventional wisdom that inaccurately paints her as a prickly, calculating technocrat.
In service of that unfair, too-easy stereotype, she’s had to catch and absorb more bullshit than just about any other human being in politics, male or female, and she’s emerged from all of it as a strong, poised and presidential woman (fuck you, Trump) with the very real potential to be one of our greatest chief executives. Her life and her experiences have uniquely prepared her to take on the most powerful and most challenging gig in politics, and I’m convinced that she’ll more than rise to the occasion.
Please consider this my enthusiastic endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. When and if she wins, and more than anyone else, she will have fully and completely earned it.
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