Lost in Clintonworld
By Joshua Shnayer on 9.23.13 @ 4:01PM
In a succinct 5,930-word profile of Hillary Clinton, New York Magazine shed some light yesterday on what author Joe Hagan refers to as “Clintonworld”—a swirling and nebulous configuration of hangers-on, loyalists, sycophants, and a former president who comprise the Clintonian version of Camelot. And in this Clintonworld are many disembodied voices (read: anonymous sources) declaring that Hillary is running—and knows that she is—whether she realizes it or not.
The former first lady and secretary of state described some of the pleasures that she and Bill have been able to enjoy since her departure from the Obama administration. “[W]e laugh at our dogs; we watch stupid movies; we take long walks; we go for a swim,” Hillary says. She often has an opportunity to “[let] loose one of her loud, head-tilted-back laughs” and keep “doin’ what we’re doin.’”
And if that image isn’t ghastly enough, Hagan describes Clinton as experiencing a kind of “weightlessness,” “midair, launched from the State Department toward … what?” The thought of Hillary Clinton floating through space with the ponderous strains of the Blue Danube Waltz playing—a kind of homage to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey—must be terrifying to most readers. One can only imagine how nightmarish the idea of a ballistic missile version of Hillary, aimed at the offices of The American Spectator, must sound to Bob Tyrell.
But when asked about her political aspirations, Hillary is a typical politician, managing to string together a lot of words which, combined together in sentence form, could be interpreted to mean 5,930 different things. Asked about her interest in running for president, she offers:
I think I have a pretty good idea of the political and governmental challenges that are facing our leaders, and I’ll do whatever I can from whatever position I find myself in to advocate for the values and the policies I think are right for the country. I will just continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence me making a decision one way or the other.
But from within the confines of Clintonworld emerge the aforementioned disembodied voices, three witches gathered around a cauldron to offer forecasts about Hillary. “She’s running, but she doesn’t know it yet,” says “one such person.” Her run for president is a “force of history. It’s inexorable, it’s gravitational,”—a sharp contrast with Hagan’s earlier image of weightless Hillary, applying the force of gravity to her and dragging her from the heavens.
As highlights of her work and her qualifications, the vassals of Clintonworld cite some very dubious accomplishments. We are told that “[a]t State, she was the head of a smoothly running 70,000-person institution,” which sounds absurd when one considers the whirlwind of criticism that the State Department suffered after the Benghazi debacle on September 11, 2012—an organization that ignored the embassy’s requests for additional security and kept the families of victims in the dark, but could afford to spend $630,000 to generate “likes” for the State Department Facebook page.
The work of the Clinton Foundation is described as sterling, in spite of a scathing story in the New York Times which described the Foundation as being partially a crony publicity organization which consistently runs financial deficits. And we are reminded of the involvement of Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, who heads Hillary’s “transition office.”
Still, there are things about Hillary which make one pine for the good old days. Hagan quotes Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post on the differences between Hillary and John Kerry:
Whatever one says about how [Secretary of State] John Kerry is doing, […] he has nothing left to lose. You can see he takes risks. He’s plowing into the Middle East stuff when people are saying this isn’t going to get you anywhere. Hillary never would have done any of this stuff.
Talk about an understatement.
In general, it appears that it’s not really Hillary who’s running, but Clintonworld itself:
On some level, the network is almost impossible to control—Clintonworld is bigger than just the Clintons. ‘People do things in their name, or say they just talked to Hillary or to Bill, and the next thing you know, they’re doing something stupid,’ says a former aide of Hillary’s whose interview she sanctioned. ‘You take the good with the bad. Hopefully, the good outweighs the bad.
So, if Hillary Clinton is not in fact a liberal ballistic missile but rather the figurehead religious leader of a massive crusade, in which people “do things in [her] name,” would it be wise for Americans to vote Clintonworld/Insert Name Here in 2016? Well, what difference does it at this point make?