April 17, 2012

The Hillary Meme Explained


TEXTS FROM HILLARY came and went, but it really didn’t end because the meme lives on. In the last few days, for example, the Tumblr electricity was captured and relayed through the wire photo from Cartegena above. But if Hillary’s the epitome of cool right now, the question is, why?

Well, for one reason, Hillary’s all that because she’s the biggest A-tier politician, public figure, and cultural celebrity in this PR-driven, me-me-me culture right now who could care less about the attention. She’s everywhere because she doesn’t seem ego-invested. (Otherwise, this wouldn’t be funny).

Remember the utopian vision of the Obama campaign and the early days of the Administration — that Washington would lay down the switchblades and embark on a new “post-partisan” era? The dream might have been blown to bits in an instant, except that, after one of the most epic political brawls in history, fueled by race, gender and a previous Presidential legacy, Hillary kept faith with it.

And, how many ways has the State Department gig played a role in the Tumblr phenomenon?

First off, the Secretary of State position is a solemn one and Hillary, mindful of the propriety, has managed to keep her head down (in contrast to all the pols in town who relate to his or her position as a personal vehicle). Second, whereas Condi floundered in the job for years with hardly anything non-self promotional to show for it, Hillary has helped heal America’s neocon-induced international alienation (and the Gaddafi and bin Laden erasures haven’t hurt her either). Third, a more procedural point but a significant one: holding the State Department job means Hillary cannot do any electioneering. The fact that she’s been depoliticized, especially in an election year, has put her a quantum leap above the fray.

And then, the fact she insists she’s not running for president again (and who in our narcissistic culture with similar assets wouldn’t start to salivate over the brass ring?) is again très cool.

Finally, let’s not overlook the gender dimension. As females are being rolled like bowling balls in the direction of every possible oncoming bus, how rare is it to find a woman in the political sphere (keep your pants on, Weiner) who can’t be f-cked with?

(photo 1: AFP caption: Just hours after attending Saturday’s official dinner for the heads of state and government attending a 34-nation Latin American summit in the Colombian tourist resort of Cartagena, Clinton, pictured here on April 15, was seen partying in a nearby nightclub. Pictures of Clinton’s happy moment went viral, the second time in a week that her fun side has become an instant hit on the Internet. photo 2: Diana Walker for Time)

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Michael Shaw
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