I have to confess that when I saw Hillary and Liz in their slapsticky-sweet Sisterhood of the Traveling Power Pantsuits show on Monday, I couldn't help thinking about an old episode of I Love Lucy and wishing for a reprise.
You know, the one where BFFs Lucy and Ethel show up at a gala event wearing identical outfits? And how their raucous rendition of the Cole Porter tune "Friendship" gradually devolves into chaotic cat-fighting hilarity? Retro and pre-feminist, to be sure. But even in these modern times, it's still considered a fashion faux pas for two women to be caught wearing the same thing at the same elite affair. Or, as Cosmo put it in a recent spread on sartorial redundancy in high places, awesome and awwwkward at the same time. Shallowness yesterday, shallowness today, shallowness forever.
Watching that Lucy episode when I was a kid in the early 60s, I couldn't for the life of me understand why Lucy and Ethel would throw such a hissy fit over something so stupid as matching apparel. I thought it was stupid mainly because the pouffy dresses with the fake vines cascading down the front like snakes were so damned ugly and unflattering on both of them. But back in the 50s, when the series first aired, fashion was one of the few things then allowed to individually define the repressed, stuck-at-home middle class woman.
I did learn a very valuable lesson in irony from watching that episode. I learned that it is indeed possible to sing "Friendship, Friendship, It's the Perfect Blendship" even as you subtly elbow your fellow humans out of your way before ripping them to shreds. This tactic was honed to perfection by the Clintons. Just ask Lani Guinier, or Peter and Marion Wright Edelman, or Joycelyn Elders.
So, perhaps Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren dressing nearly identically and doing fist bumps at their first campaign event together was to cover up their historical disagreements and to make a unifying political statement in the form of a cohesive, rather than competing, fashion statement. If there were any subtle Lucy/Ethel elbow-jabs or squeals of pain, they were well-hidden beneath the deafening audience hysteria, the high fives, and the hugs. After all, the campaign theme this week is #$tronger Together. These are two powerful, professional women who have so, so moved on from those medieval times when Ricky Ricardo wouldn't let his wife be in the show, and when Fred Mertz couldn't bear to even talk to his wife without also gruffly mentioning her weight and her age.
Instead of making the Democratic campaign about the issue that most threatens our democracy - the class war - Liz and Hill are reprising the battle of the sexes that was the implicit theme in every single episode of I Love Lucy.
Hill and Liz might not be total ideological soulmates as regards the economy, but they are every bit as facilely united in their disdain for Donald Trump as Lucy and Ethel were in their serial attempts to escape their domestic confines and thwart their chauvinistic spouses in a search for glorious independence. In fact, all Warren and Clinton could kvetch about on Monday was mean old Donald Trump. Donald Trump was the whole obfuscatory theme of their show in the buckle of the Clinton/NAFTA-decimated Rust Belt.
Forget the looming, job-destroying Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Hillary helped to write and which Liz used to loathe, when they can distract voters by making fun of Trump's ridiculous hat and his thin, withered, senile and unmanly skin! Forget Hillary's multi-millions in paid private chitchats with predatory bankers when they can deflect the conversation to Donald Trump's regressive lying, cheating, woman-hating ways!
Goldman Sachs and Citigroup might fraudulently take your home away from you, but Donald would do you even worse. "He'd crush you in the dirt!" yelled Elizabeth Warren to a solidarity chorus of boos and You Go, Girls.
This election - like all elections - is nothing but a TV show (A Special Place in Hell for Women Who Don't Support Other Women: teleplay by warmonger Madeleine Albright). So of course the diva would invite the rising star to be her regular guest player and stand-in, if not her permanent sidekick. After all, this isn't, ahem, meant to be seen as a remake of All About Eve.
So relax, everybody. All you cash-strapped voters stuck out there in Precariatville need do pack up your troubles, sit back, and root for Hillarity Ricardo and Ethelbeth Mertz. Or is it Hillary Mirth and Lizzy Ricardo? As Hillary herself once scoffed about the who, what, when, why and how of Benghazi: "What difference, at this point, does it make?"
What is so vitally important in all our lives is Donald Trump's collection of dorky baseball caps with their "Make America Great Again" logo. Responding to his diss of her as a silly Pocahontas because she once allegedly claimed aboriginal ancestry on a college application, Liz retorted: "You want to see goofy? Look at him in that hat!"
(Don't look over here at Hillary, for goddessake. It might remind you that she is under active FBI investigation for her illegal email arrangements and possibly also for her family's money-laundering charity slush fund.)
Since Clinton forever seems to be in a self-inflicted Lucy-like jam, Warren will take her hand. In a bit of a Berning mess, Hillary sent out the S.O.S. (But if she does end up in jail, I doubt that Liz would go so far as to post her bail.) It's friendship, friendship, a perfect blendship... for the TV cameras. Their outfits bleed together so perfectly that at times you think you're seeing a two-headed woman. Even their hairdos are style and color-coordinated.
I must be color-blind, or maybe my TV set is defective, because according to CNN, Liz donned royal blue and for Hillary, it was the very appropriate wearing of the deep purple. Hillary wouldn't want the proles to mistake who's the queen in this show, and who's merely the lady-in-waiting. But I'm sticking with my two heads on one body scenario anyway, because I prefer comedy and horror spoofs to schlocky political stories that serve the status quo.
"Imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office the next time America faces a crisis," Clinton told the crowd, grimly nodding her head up and down in that annoying way that she has of punctuating every sentence. "Imagine him being in charge when your jobs and savings are at stake. Imagine him trying to figure out what to do in case of an emergency."
Imagine Hillary telling the truth and admitting that the real unemployment (U-6) rate in the United States is close to 10% when you factor in the millions who have simply given up looking for work.
Imagine her acknowledging that a fifth of Americans actually have no savings at all to worry about, while 62% have less than $1,000 stashed away for an emergency expense. Imagine Hillary being even remotely aware of how hard life is for the bottom 90% whom she is supposedly trying to woo.
Imagine Hillary with her trigger-happy finger at the ready at all times to answer any emergency, surrounded by her sycophantic chorus of bloodthirsty neocon pals. Imagine her being in charge of continuing the Neoliberal Project she and Bill started, in which your jobs disappear, your wages plummet, the inequality soars and universal health care is forsaken for the plutocratic profits gleaned by the waging of permanent war.
Fasten your seat belts. Because whether the car is driven by Goofy Don or it's driven by Reckless Hillary, this won't be just another bumpy ride. We must all brace ourselves for the inevitable crash.