If John F. Kennedy was the first president elected by television, Hillary Clinton might become the first elected by meme. The “Texts from Hillary” trend a few years ago loaded Clinton with gigabytes of viral cred, and she capitalized on the recent congressional hearing on Benghazi by flashing her most shareable facial expressions.
Clinton’s ascension to the Oval Office, if she wins, will not be solely because millions of people chuckled at captions put with photos of her epic eye-rolling, as she is a more qualified candidate than JFK was, and anyone else who has since become president. The Benghazi hearing revealed nothing but what we already knew: that Hillary Clinton is exceptionally intelligent, self-possessed and patriotic—and many Republicans despise her.
Yet, the little that was learned from the hearing is symbolic of how little I know about what type of president Hillary Clinton would be. It’s stunning that someone could be a national political figure for more than two decades, and impart no certainty about how she would vote or lead on any issue.
The only thing I know for sure is that I would never be shocked by Clinton supporting policy that is shockingly antagonistic toward the values she professes while campaigning. Of course, all politicians are calculating and conniving, and Clinton is a rarefied politician and double-crosser.
Hillary die-hards insist she is immune from accountability for her husband’s presidency, and pretend she has sufficiently atoned for the triangulating betrayals of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Defense of Marriage Act, welfare reform and expansion of our nation’s prison industrial complex. Just last week, Clinton continued to peddle the insulting suggestion that DOMA was a masterful strategy to protect LGBT relationships from discrimination, and we were just too dumb to realize it (if anyone accepts this rationalization, they are indeed as stupid as Clinton hopes we are).
She was hardly a liberal exemplar during her eight years as a U.S. senator, most of which she spent trying to cultivate a centrist even hawkish) reputation to improve her presidential prospects. Clinton’s actions as Secretary of State were admirable, including being a force for LGBT rights, but recently exposed e-mails again display her reflexive willingness to forsake the dignity of same-sex spouses in order to avoid “a huge Fox-generated media storm.”
No matter how sincerely Hillary Clinton may personally support the LGBT movement, it’s foolish to expect her to be as committed to our cause as she is to her poll numbers. I have no expectation that Bernie Sanders will provide stellar leadership on LGBT rights, and his obsession with class sometimes white washes how labor, capital and economic fairness are influenced by factors such as skin color, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Claims that Sanders could not win a general election are discredited echoes of what Hillary supporters said about her chief opponent during the 2008 primary. But our president today is Barack Hussein Obama … and he is black … and same-sex marriage is now part of America … and legalized recreational weed is dawning, even in our nation’s capital … and Black Lives Matter … and a socialist could be president.
Many are celebrating the Benghazi hearing as Clinton’s “Bye, Felicia” moment to her competitors, but I remain unconvinced that she can lead a challenge to the status quo she helped create.