I’ll never get past my burning anger at Hillary Rodham Clinton for giving us Donald Trump, but I’ve alway respected her brains, candor and toughness. And so last night I felt I had to see Nanette Burstein‘s Hillary doc on Hulu.
We’re talking 253 minutes broken down into four chapters — “The Golden Girl”, “Becoming a Lady”, “The Hardest Decision” and “Be Our Champion, Go Away”. And it just moves right aong. It’s all so familiar, of course, because
most many of us have lived through the whole Clinton saga, step by step, trauma by trauma. And yet I was engrossed and fascinated, and I’m glad I submitted.
I was never bored — it’s a smart, first-rate epic. I think it’s too friendly by half, but that was the shot going in — be kind, let Hillary tell her side, listen to her and consider the fact that she’s quite the remarkable figure, etc. (Which she is.) I admired Burstein’s decision to cut back and forth between the straightforwqrd biopic portions and the climactic and altogether tragic 2016 campaign.
There’s no mention of Susan Sarandon or Jill Stein or Mike Nichols‘ Primary Colors or Hillary collapsing like a sack of potatoes that that World Trade Center ceremony. Or Hillary voting for the Iraq War invasion in ’03 (or so I recall). Or her husband’s friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein.
There’s so much that is glossed over and ignored. Because it’s basically friendly. It goes easy.
I would have preferred an in-depth doc that stuck to the approach of Carl Bernstein‘s “A Woman in Charge“, which was respectful but at the same time tougher and revealing.
During the Monica Lewinsky-Ken Starr portion Hillary once again conveys how shocked and appalled she was when her husband, after previously lying to her, confessed all. For the 47th time nobody believes that brilliant Hillary didn’t know Bill was a hound from the get-go. Her deal with him was “we’re in this for the long haul and you know I’ll stand by you no matter what, but don’t be sloppy and don’t embarass me.” But of course he did time and again during his time as Arkansas governor, and again in the White House, and later with his Epstein association.
Not allowed to say this I’m saying it anyway: Looks matter in any walk of life, and Presidential candidates have to somehow exude the aura of glamorous rock stars. Hillary didn’t during the ’16 campaign (she looked well-tended but dowdyish), and she really needed to look extra-special because she’s never had the natural charisma thing. The doc reminded me that Hillary, who’d been slender and youngish-looking during her first 60 years of life, started to put on weight before the ’08 campaign. She seemed to have “stopped trying” (as a friend put it this morning) when she became Obama’s Secretary of State.
Before running in ’15 she really should lost some weight and had some work done. If she had somehow reclaimed a semblance of the appearance she had during her six-year term as New York’s U.S. Senator (’01 thru ’07) I think she would have beaten Trump. I really do. A lot of older male voters didn’t like her, but some would have gone along if she’d looked…well, a bit more like Jill Biden. I’m sorry but does anyone think Barack Obama would have done as well if he looked like Forest Whitaker as General Idi Amin? Would JFK had performed as well if he had thinning hair or looked like Tip O’Neil?
Posted on 6.2.15: Clinton’s problems are mainly due to a slippage among independent male voters, say pollsters, and are more particularly due to Eghazi fallout, a feeling that she’s greedy (ridiculous speaking fees, Clinton Foundation razmatazz), an inability to inspire trust, a sense that she lacks empathy for working schmoes, those puffy eye bags (go ahead and laugh but all aspects of a person’s physical appearance are metaphors) and her natural, God-given ability to generate strong negatives.
Hillary obviously has nothing to worry about with women voters — her problem is with guys. As much as I hate to say this (and please understand I’m in no way respecting or winking at this attitude) Clinton’s problems are at least partly due to the fact she has this crabby neghead ex-wife vibe, that she doesn’t seem to be all that mellow or kindly. She looks like a vaguely snitty, pissed-off granny who possibly sips a little too much wine. Guys are visually guided and like to vote for semi-attractive women, or at the very least women who don’t give off contentious ex-wife vibes. Elizabeth Warren has a far more genteel, agreeable manner than Clinton, which is one reason why I wanted her to run.
I know that if Hillary looked like Joe Biden’s wife, she’d be in a whole different place right now. Remember how a lot of Sarah Palin‘s support in ’08 was due to independent and rightwing guys thinking she was hot? Ask Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil about how male geezer Academy members like to vote for hot younger actresses. It’s sexist bullshit, agreed, but it all falls into place.
Hillary is not a naturally charismatic type, but Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are. If people like you they’ll let you skate on all kinds of stuff. But if they don’t like you they’ll seize upon stuff as reasons not to support or vote for you. Being a successful politician is all about chemistry, personality, vibes, comfort.
I myself don’t need or want Hillary to be some kind of silver fox. I admit that her cranky ex-wife vibes are a turn-off and that I find her eye bags unattractive, but I mainly want her to let loose her inner Bernie Sanders. It’s her calculating caution (listening to voters to determined what she should say) and center-right attitudes that irritate me more than anything else.