The Fabulosity of Hillary

The voting majority of the Nineties resembled working woman Hillary much more than the embalmed sorority of Republican ladies-if-you-please like Phyllis Schlafly (she of the beatific smile glittering with spite) and the then (could you die!) “most beloved grandmother in America,” sweet, toothsome Barbara Bush, “authoress” like so many GOP first ladies of a book about living in the White House from the point of view of a dog. (Upon first meeting Barbara Bush, Richard Nixon remarked to his wife, “I like her. She knows how to hate.” )

Hillary knew how to hate too, but she knew something even more important. How to stay on her game. Never let them see you sweat, to quote an unknown Ascended Master of Madison Avenue. Could there be a more stupendous FUCK YOU to the anti-Clinton freaks than how far the lady in the headband traveled after the White House? Again let us count the ways.

New York Senator. Big-bucks “author” of a hit autobiography (no talking dogs in sight). First woman running for president so hard and so sure that her gender stopped being part of the storyline, except, of course, when Hillary deployed gender in her adorable, shameless way, using it to chill “sexist” criticism (Chris Matthews was rightly chastised for harping on her “shrill cackle”) and to win votes from her sisters-in-arms.

Who can forget her fabulous New Hampshire gambit, the voice throbbing with — important qualification — unshed tears, the eyes glossy with all the artistry of Joan Crawford, who like Hillary never quite cracked, the waterworks never quite overran the dam, nothing that would distract from the tremulous line readings. Hillary telling the woman voters of New Hampshire that she cared, she really cared, about this country, speaking with an air of sudden amazement not seen since Sally Field’s Oscar speech, as if the rush of love for this nation overflowed even her self-control, then gratefully accepting a completely unnecessary Kleenex. Gamely, bravely she looked up to field the next question, which appropriately enough was: How did she keep her hair looking so great during the campaign?

Shameless? This was a master class in shameless.

And it was matched, not for the first time, by her Indiana election-night speech. No matter that she barely squeaked out a win in Indiana while losing North Carolina by a knee-capping 14-percentage points, no matter that her concession speech already loomed like a dark shadow over the lectern and was but a month away, Hillary came out on stage that night like a champ, addressing a sea of blue Hillary signs, beaming an insane sort of victory joy from every pore and blonded follicle.

Any minute now she’d float that ripe canard about “being open” to offering Barack Obama the vice presidency. (The Holy Family at right; everybody soo happy)

Reader, that’s shameless, drag queen division — drag queen having a brawl with convict husband in a back alley, being filmed for Cops, who have to jump in to stop the convict from getting bloodied up too badly, and then with a hand on her head steer the druggy drag into the backseat of the police car where she looks up and slurs “when will thisss be broadcast?” Those kind of brass knockers .

And then, presto, it was all over. But for the shouting. But for the back-room negotiations where, trust me, the Clintons came out on top in every pore and follicle. At her concession speech, Hillary Clinton strode out to a room crammed with supporters and TV cameras, still a winner, once again very much a Clinton, and vigorously, without any ifs, ands or buts, rallied them to elect her rival.

As for Barack Obama. Of course I’ll vote for him. It will be a kick to elect the first black president in America, an absolute thrill. For surely he will win. No matter what they call it — the Bush economy or the Bush war — this year the country will be voting on the Bush years. And John McCain, loyal lemming that he is, is cheerleading for those years, no matter how suicidal.

Frankly, the Dems could run Goofy this year and still win.

Election night 2008 promised to be one long anti-climax. And it was, as the avalanche of Obama votes cascaded across CNN’s map of America. The real excitement that year, the contest the history books will remember, was the Democratic primary of 2008, with all its Hitchcockian twists and, thanks to Hillary, Mildred Piercian flourishes.

No matter how god-awful uplifting the Obama years may yet become, we’ll still have Bill and Hill working their shameless Clinton magic.

*Did I write that Obama was”solemn” and “dour?” Ouch . What I mistook in those 2008 debates for solemnity would turn out to be Obama’s unflappable coolness. A hip self-containment that in office earned him the admirable nickname “No Drama Obama.”