I couldn't help envisioning a scene from the great new Netflix series, Stranger Things, which I've been binge-watching all week as an antidote to the real horror of the Democratic National Convention. Right before tuning in to the robotic Chelsea introducing the robotic Hillary on Thursday night, I'd nearly gagged at the sight of a young boy coughing out a slimy eel-like creature into his bathroom sink. And so, at the sound of her first throat spasm, I braced myself in anticipation that Hillary, too, would be expectorating something even nastier than her hoarse-throated ode to great American exceptionalism.
I almost felt sorry for her early on, when she as much as admitted that she'd been an abused child. Dorothy Rodham, her wonderful late saint of a mother, had once heartlessly kicked her out the door to confront a group of neighborhood bullies all by her little pre-school self. I wonder why Hillary didn't also mention the anecdote in Carl Bernstein's biography, which had her alcoholic father throwing the toothpaste out the window if somebody left the cap off, and then making the kids go out to hunt for it in the dark. Daddy went ballistic on the frequent occasions when his wife and kids failed to live up to his impossibly great expectations.
But as with everything else in the radical centrism of Clinton World, I suppose there has to be balance in the bathos. Hillary had nothing but glowing words for her dear old bootstrapping John Bircher of a dad on Thursday night.
And there has to be balance, as the late Christopher Hitchens wrote, in manipulating populism in the service of elitism. Thus did Hillary give a condescending verbal pat on the snow-white head of Bernie Sanders, looking bored and grumpy in his seat as his wife Jane gave him frequent therapeutic pats on the back.
Clearing her throat ironically and ostentatiously, Hillary crooned out to her erstwhile nemesis:
Populism, meet the Neoliberal Project. Calling humanity-crushing corporate coups like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (ostentatiously allowed to survive in the party platform) "progressive" is a feeble but common way to fool people into thinking that job offshoring and subsequent wage suppression throughout the world is actually good for them.Our country needs your ideas, energy, and passion. That’s the only way we can turn our progressive platform into real change for America.
And then the gunk really flowed forth. It was a multi-colored, multi-textured oratorical mess that must have been festering all her political life:
This is highly unskilled obfuscation. Does Hillary's ghostwriter really think that by verbally juxtaposing domestic social problems with military might, people will then all join together in one big patriotic blob? Fight terrorism with hard work while acknowledging desperation and inequality and too many threats, be afraid, and then blame it all on the "paralysis in Washington" so beloved by the extreme centrists and the same multinational lobbyists who recycled a very small portion of their own corporate welfare to fund the spectacularly orchestrated Clinton Coronation.We will work with all Americans and our allies to fight terrorism.There’s a lot of work to do.Too many people haven’t had a pay raise since the crash.There’s too much inequality.Too little social mobility.Too much paralysis in Washington.Too many threats at home and abroad.But just look at the strengths we bring to meet these challenges.
It was no big surprise that after many of us gagged on Hillary's expectorations, she herself reportedly went on to party late into the night at a private shindig hosted by Lady Gaga, the rock star queen of the identity politics which barely holds the morally bankrupt Democratic Party together.
Before serenading Clinton, Gaga had given another exclusive concert in neighboring Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest cities in America. It benefited not the poor, but one of Hillary's Superpacs.
But back to the speech. Hillary's noxious juxtaposing continues, as she counters Donald Trump with her own inclusive neoliberal army of caring professionals solidly aligned with both the victims and the perpetrators of state-sanctioned economic and physical violence:
"Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem" is neoliberal code for Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste. (See: New Orleans/charter school takeover, Haiti/post-earthquake wage suppression, and just about any place where mostly man-made disaster strikes.)Troops on the front lines.Police officers and fire fighters who run toward danger.Doctors and nurses who care for us.Teachers who change lives.Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem.Mothers who lost children to violence and are building a movement to keep other kids safe.
But wait. Her acceptance speech may have started out as a few dry throat clearings, but Hillary's hacking is getting juicier by the minute:
Her speechwriter here skillfully combines democratic ideals with police state oppression. Of course no one person has all the power in America. It's a team effort of revolving door professionals from what's called the "establishment" or the "ruling class" or the "Washington Consensus" -- or what political theorist Perry Anderson calls the consilium of the Security Elite:Remember: Our Founders fought a revolution and wrote a Constitution so America would never be a nation where one person had all the power.Two hundred and forty years later, we still put our faith in each other.Look at what happened in Dallas after the assassinations of five brave police officers.Chief David Brown asked the community to support his force, maybe even join them.And you know how the community responded?Nearly 500 people applied in just 12 days.
"It extends across the bureaucracy and the academy to foundations, think tanks, and the media. In this milieu, with its emplacements in the Council on Foreign Relations, the Kennedy School of Harvard, the Woodrow Wilson Center at Princeton, the Nitze School at Johns Hopkins, the Naval War College, Georgetown, Brookings, the Carnegie Foundation, the Departments of State and Defense, the National Security Agency and the CIA, positions are interchangeable, individuals moving seamlessly back and forth between university chairs or think tanks and government offices, in general regardless of the party in control of the administration."And the militarized police forces protect this elite team effort both at home and abroad. Only witness the snipers on the rooftops at Hillary's convention, protecting her and her whole consilium cohort against the proletarian rabble as the rich partied in and around the Wells Fargo arena this past week.
But back to the regal phlegm. Hillary now pivots to the "personal" in order to re-introduce herself to a public which has gifted her a sad approval rating of barely 30 percent.
As CounterPunch's Jeffrey St. Clair quips in his brutally hilarious series on the convention: "HRC says the 'service part' always came more naturally to her than the “public part”. Well, that explains the private email server…"I’ve been your first lady. Served 8 years as a Senator from the great sate of New York.I ran for President and lost.Then I represented all of you as secretary of State.But my job titles only tell you what I’ve done.They don’t tell you why.The truth is, through all these years of public service, the “service” part has always come easier to me than the “public” part.I get it that some people just don’t know what to make of me.
Hillary went on to reprise her promise to "be president for the struggling, the striving and the successful," which is code for caring just as much about billionaires as she does for meritocrats sweating their Ivy League applications and elbowing their fellows in the ribs for a chance at a promotion or a corner office. She barely paid lip service to the crushingly impoverished. The P word - poverty - did in fact make the final cut in Hillary's coronation speech, with just one little mention. Overdoing it might have harshed the mellow of the USA! USA! USA! fight song echoing from the nosebleed seats, might even have burst a couple of those oversized balloons that a doddering and slack-jawed Bill Clinton just couldn't get enough of tossing around.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Hillarian hucksterism isn't quite done yet:
That's why, as the New York Times reports, Clinton's wealthy donors were literally coming out of their well-appointed, room-sized closets this week, descending en masse upon Philly's tonier spots. Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was quoted as gushing at the Ritz-Carlton: "This is a good place to be — for a lot of reasons.We must have set up five fund-raisers today. This is the bank.”I believe America thrives when the middle class thrives.I believe that our economy isn’t working the way it should because our democracy isn’t working the way it should.That’s why we need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics and expand voting rights, not restrict them. And we’ll pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United!
Hillary was certainly right as she ironically a-hemmed that "our democracy isn't working the way it should."
But never mind all that. It's always sunny in Philadelphia as long as the proles have a hopeful sunny outlook:
There she goes, echoing President Obama's platitude that dark-skinned people "feel like" their lives are disposable - thus putting the onus on the victims of state-sanctioned racist violence themselves. Anything rather than utter the active words of reality: on average, US law enforcement personnel actually kill one person every 24 hours. That picked-on feeling? It's too often the pain of a last dying breath.I refuse to believe we can’t find common ground here.We have to heal the divides in our country.Not just on guns. But on race. Immigration. And more.That starts with listening to each other. Hearing each other. Trying, as best we can, to walk in each other’s shoes.So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of young black and Latino men and women who face the effects of systemic racism, and are made to feel like their lives are disposable.
Now here comes that centrist, balanced approach again, putting even more of the onus on the working class and reducing lethal institutionalized social problems down to "rebuilding trust" between cops and communities. Meet the truncheons halfway - extend a helping head. Lift those hands a little higher behind your back to make it easier for them to cuff you:
Reduce social injustice to identity politics. And stand against the meanness and divisiveness of Donald Trump, every time you see him getting a billion dollars' worth of free campaign advertising from the same media conglomerate which has colluded in the coronation of Hillary herself.Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of police officers, kissing their kids and spouses goodbye every day and heading off to do a dangerous and necessary job.We will reform our criminal justice system from end-to-end, and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.We will defend all our rights — civil rights, human rights and voting rights … women’s rights and workers’ rights … LGBT rights and the rights of people with disabilities!And we will stand up against mean and divisive rhetoric wherever it comes from.
Thank you and may God bless the United States of America!(Thank god, it finally ended.)
-- e.e. cummings