This is an article I wrote for the Huffington Post during the US Presidential election 2008...
Hillary is mean!
I have just been lying by the pool in a hotel near Stratford-upon-Avon, jetlagged and trying to sleep. But I can't! And the reason? An image of Hillary Clinton is haunting me. There she is, captured mid-tirade, her eyes steely and cold, her mouth distorted like a Francis Bacon painting, and I am scared. I can't sleep. Hillary is haunting me! I don't like Hillary! Hillary is mean!
I used to like her a lot. But she lost me when she voted for the war. She knew what she was doing and, unluckily for her, she got it wrong. Nowadays thankfully, we admire the people who stood up against Bush and the WMD lies instead of those, like her, who voted with him to prove that they had the balls to run a country. Baby, you should know more than most women that it takes more balls to stand up for what you believe in and not cave to what the word thinks or what you think the world wants you to do.
But hang on, did I maybe stop liking her in 2005 when she started cuddling up to Newt Gingrich in a transparent attempt to begin the wooing of wavering Republicans in this presidential race? (He, like me, has changed his tune, recently calling her a 'nasty woman' who runs an 'endlessly ruthless' campaign. Wow, I never thought I would have anything in common with Newt Gingrich.)
But I have decided my tossing and turning on my sun lounger downstairs in the spa will not be for naught.
Here are my reasons why I think Hillary is mean, by Alan Cumming, aged 43:
1. She tries to tell us that we are stupid to believe in the power of words. That hope doesn't get things done, that inspiration is futile. That is so mean. That is actually the meanest and most stupid thing she has ever said. Because in addition to it being wrong, she has totally underestimated the need and desire of the American people for precisely what Obama can give them - hope, inspiration, words that make them believe that the world can change, and the old style politicking and fear-mongering that she has aligned herself with can be turned around and America can have a new beginning. Call it a fairy tale if you like, but this is what people want to hear. Because this is what people want.
2. She has failed to make us believe in her for her own merits so she now has to make us believe that we should vote for her because of her opponents alleged demerits. On so many levels that is mean. And stupid. And duh, not true. Which brings me to...
3. The fear factor. Who would we rather have pick up the phone at 3am? Well, actually Hillary, Barack Obama! Not an hysterical person who tries to make us vote for her by scaring us, and even stooping so low as to use footage of Osama Bin Landen and 9/11 in her own political broadcasts, something which she has spoken out against in the past when the same semiotics were used by the Republicans, her true rivals. (Remember those days when we thought they were the enemy?)
4. The race card. Oh this is a doozie, as you Americans would say. In her pursuit of stopping a black man become president, she has conveniently forgotten that she is actually married to the first ever black man to have held that office. Yeah, right, how utterly patronizing that whole Bill being black thing now seems. But then Bill has conveniently forgotten his popularity among the black population, but that's because, er, he doesn't have it any more after a series of race blunders that made him look condescending, out of touch, and yes, mean. So now that she does not have to court the black vote so avidly it seems Hillary has no qualms about using the race issue to churn up ancient and disgusting bigoted ill will that only her opponent seems willing to discuss and analyze. How ironic that Obama, shortly after one of the most amazing speeches about race ever, should have to defend the notion that race is still an issue in the campaign, and indeed American life. Don’t you know, Hillary? Why don't you ask your formerly black husband and see how he feels about it?
5. And talking of race, and Obama's speech about Jeremiah Wright's comments - why should he leave his church? Did every Catholic ex-communicate themselves when it became apparent that there was wide-spread abuse of children by priests? Like Barack said, we all have people around us who say and do things we don’t agree with but we don’t kick them out of our lives. We all know there are many things that Bill did that were an abuse of his power, a violation of his office, to say nothing of a mockery of his marriage, and yet we respect Hillary’s decision not to leave him. Yeah, that's right, you know what I'm talking about. So why is it inappropriate for students to bring up that whole deal, yet fine for Hillary and her team to endlessly whip the dead horse issue that is Rev Wright? It's just mean.
5. The flag thing. Oh shut up! This reminds me of being in the schoolyard and being taunted for not having the cool sneakers. Patriotism is not about wearing a pin. Patriotism is about saying you love your country and what it stands for, and you are willing to do whatever you can to get it back on track and to make it what it once was, and to make people believe that they really do live in the land of the free once more. Flag waving is a scary business, Hillary, as of course you have so cleverly realized. But there is a very fine line between patriotism and nationalism. And duh, you weren't even wearing a flag on that debate, so shut up again, you're just mean.
6. Elitism. Ok, this is the last one and then I am going to stop and try to sleep again. But this just takes the biscuit. Obama is elitist? Uh, hello? Please don’t confuse serving the public with being one of them. When is the last time you had to worry about a mortgage payment? I'll tell you what is elitist: being a member of one of the two families who could potentially rule America for seven terms! America is only a couple of hundred years old, it's supposed to be the land of opportunity, where anything is possible for anyone, yet we could have nearly thirty years of the presidency sliced up between two wealthy, powerful political dynasties. Uh, that's elitist
And finally, she lies!! Big ones! She says she got shot at by enemies when she just didn't. And then she tries to say that she 'misspoke". Uh no, Hillary, you lied. That makes you a liar. And not only that but a stupid liar because there was a film crew a few feet away from you when this supposedly happened. Stupid and mean.
The reason I am here in Straford-upon-Avon is for the celebrations for Shakespeare's birthday. Here is one of my favorite passages of his, from ‘Hamlet’,and it seems really appropriate right now..
This above all — to thine ownself be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man
But you can be mean! I'm going to sleep now.