Ira Smolensky

 

                          Hillary Clinton is not a monster . . .

 

       Such moments are to be expected in the heat of an especially sizzling political campaign.

       Samantha Power, a Harvard professor who advises—correct that—advised Barack Obama on foreign policy, opined to a Scottish reporter that Hillary Clinton is a ruthless “monster” who would do anything it takes, no matter how unethical, to win the Democratic nomination for president.

       Inhabiting the ivory tower of academia as she does, Professor Power thought that her assessment was “off the record.”

       In that the lass was just a wee bit naēve.

       The upshot was an ill-timed embarrassment for the Obama campaign, for which Professor Power, not unlike Mary Queen of Scots, paid with her head (which is to say that the good professor was forced to resign in disgrace from the Obama campaign).

       All in all, with Power properly apologetic and the Clinton campaign doing some embarrassing name calling of its own (likening Obama to special prosecutor Ken Starr of Monica Lewinski notoriety), the incident was over in a hurry.

       Indeed, it all happened so quickly that, so far as I can tell, no one actually investigated Power’s indictment of Clinton to see if it was true or false, an omission this column seeks to address.

       According to my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (which my 5th grade teacher gave me way back in 1959), a monster is 1) “an animal or plant departing greatly in form or structure from the usual type of the species,” 2) a fabulous or actually existing animal of strange, grotesque, or horrible form,” 3) “any enormous animal or thing,” or 4) “a person of unnatural ugliness, cruelty, etc.”

       There is, of course, a lot of room for creative interpretation here, especially if one was in the mood to stretch a point or two.  But the truth of the matter is that scientific analysis of Senator Clinton in light of the definition above proves conclusively that she is not a monster.  (Off the record, similar analysis also proves conclusively that Senator Obama is not Ken Starr.)

       With regard to definition 1), careful observation indicates that, while Clinton is, in fact, highly adept at hurling pejorative rhetoric at her opponents without the least regard for fairness, this actually proves that she is a supremely “usual” (or common) example of her species, the American politician.  (Ironically enough, in his hesitancy to stoop to Clinton’s level, and his stubborn commitment to a campaign based on “hope,” it is Obama who actually is a monstrous freak of nature.  As Clinton would put it, “shame on you Barack Obama.”)

       Likewise, skipping to criterion 4), while Clinton’s strategy may be cruel and even ugly, it is not “unnaturally” so.  Republicans and Democrats alike have long employed a strategy of dampening popular enthusiasm for politics rather than risking any real disturbance to the status quo.  Negative ads and long boring campaigns have provided a solid basis for the dominance of our two major political parties despite their abject failures in the realm of public policy.

       As for criteria 2) and 3), Clinton is simply not “strange,” “grotesque,” “horrible” or “enormous” enough to be accurately described as a monster.

       I therefore conclude that Hillary Clinton is not a monster.

       On the other hand, there is some basis for calling Barack Obama a monster, albeit a lovable one, for his unnatural effort to take American politics out of the gutter.

       Of course, as my dear departed Mom often told me, there are worse things to be than a monster.

       For example, not to mention any names, one could be an out and out hypocrite, haranguing her opponent for his alleged inexperience (perhaps to draw attention from her own rather limited experience in office) and then attempting to woo his supporters with the lure of the vice-presidency.

       A Clinton-Obama ticket might make sense, I suppose, if the Clintons had not been zealously proclaiming Obama unfit for the presidency. 

       Sounds like someone is not being completely honest with the American people, or with herself.

       As my Mom might have put it, “Shame on you, Hillary Clinton, shame on you.”

 

3/17/08