Buy One, Get one Free
For House of Cards 'tragics' who can't get enough of fictional President Frank Underwood and his estimable First Lady Clare, it must be tempting to view Bill and Hillary Clinton as their real-life political doppelgangers. Certainly there's fertile territory for those seeking common ground between the two main protagonists of this quintessential political soap opera, and our more flesh and blood 'heroes'. For starters, like their fictional foils, the Clintons inhabit a moral universe at the centre of which sits a massive, all consuming black hole.
To be sure, any critical assessment of Mrs Clinton's fitness for the Oval Office can't be undertaken absent some reference to the respective roles she and her husband have played in each other's professional lives. Many folks will recall their most indelible campaign slogan from Bill Clinton's successful tilt at the top job in 1992, where the pitch to voters was [you can have], "Two for the price of one". Again, not unlike the mantra the Underwoods might invent to offer their own 'constituents'. One wonders why the Clintons have not come up with a similar refrain in 2016, and here I'm thinking, "Buy one, get one free" would no doubt fit the (ahem) bill.
The Clintons then (cue Frank and Clare again) are the consummate political chancers, all the while style overwhelming substance, ruthlessness eclipsing truthfulness, and political expediency supplanting policy integrity. Occupying their own 'house of cards' is a long, yet not so illustrious history of deception, corruption, duplicity, careerist opportunism, avarice, malice, war-mongering, hubris, incompetence, arrogance, media manipulation, venality, hypocrisy, influence touting, and everything in between that the ugly, sleazy side of politics has on offer.
For those looking this reality was underscored most notably when -- in what must be the modern American narrative's most memorable "stand by your man" moment -- the then "Tammy Wynette" of U.S. politics vigorously defended her husband against allegations of unbridled lechery and sexual predation. These allegations in her view were concocted by what she later defined as a "vast right wing conspiracy", one that was trying to take them down and out before they even got halfway up the national political ladder.
But irrespective of whether this "conspiracy" was actually a reality, or a product of Mrs Clinton's penchant for delusional fantasising, or simply dirty politics (the perfect tautology if there is one), it is now safe to say it was going to take much more than a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to stop the Clinton juggernaut in its tracks. That this "juggernaut" shows few signs even after all these years of losing steam is evident; at the same time it continues to showcase all that's wrong about Establishment politics -- whether Republican or Democrat.
And whilst we might say now the
accusations against her husband contained more than a grain of truth -- an understatement
of heroic proportions -- either way, both were in for the long haul .
To be sure, the Clintons themselves are no slouches when it comes to playing "dirty politics", for whom we might imagine all's fair in love, war and their chosen vocation. Moreover, they embody raw political ambition at its hard-core finest, steeled by narcissistic megalomania, all of it unencumbered by accountability, integrity, transparency, humility, morality, ethics, honesty, scruples or altruism. Her seemingly inevitable selection as the 2016 Democratic flag-bearer -- and from there most likely the presidency -- is ample indication of that "long haul" ambition.
As dubious as it might be, to their credit they've been effectively dodging the slings and arrows of outrageous political snipers ever since they parachuted into public consciousness during the 1992 campaign. And if the current contest is any indication, the Clintons have not lost their innate talent in this regard.
As for Hillary, one suspects even her most zealous detractors could not help but admire -- if begrudgingly -- the mix of chutzpah and resilience that amongst other qualities have been key to her longevity, "longevity" of course being at least one of the candidate's 'trump' cards. "It's my turn" anyone? Even without playing the "elect me as your first woman president" card, the palpable sense of entitlement becomes 'icing on the Clinton cake'!