What will it take to make Clinton interesting?
This week CBS joined NBC and CNN in the Hillary entertainment business. While NBC airs a 4-hour miniseries produced by James D. Stern, the son of a top Bill Clinton donor, whom the New York Times accused of pushing Hillary Clinton’s candidacy eight years ago, CNN will air a documentary about Hillary and CBS is developing Madame Secretary, a television series about a female Secretary of State.
The biggest challenge for all these projects is how small a figure they have to hang so many hours of dead air on.
The NBC series will "recount Clinton's life as a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member." Tellingly, the political side of her life comes last. The CBS series will cover "the personal and professional life of a maverick female Secretary of State as she drives international diplomacy, wrangles office politics and balances a complex family life."
It always comes back to the family life, because what else is there? Turn off the cameras and sitting there is the compulsively dishonest and corrupt wife of a compulsively dishonest and corrupt former president. The wife of a dishonest, but popular, president, running for his old job, may have a slight Latin American or Middle Eastern flavor, but it’s not even Evita; let alone Hillary of Arabia.
Hillary’s closest supporters don’t have much to say about her weak tenure as Secretary of State. Once you get past the usual material about serving as a role model for girls and facing the challenges of being a wife and a mother, there are very few specific mentions of what Hillary actually did while in office.
Hillary took a lot of trips and spent a lot of money on art in embassies and green energy, but you couldn’t find her actual accomplishments with a microscope.
The only two moments of her diplomatic career that anyone remembers is the bungled Russian reset button and her clumsy participation in the Benghazi cover-up. Even the most favorable reading of both events, a misspelled gimmicky button and blaming her subordinates for not providing adequate security funding which helped lead to the murder of four Americans, don’t make for much of a resume.
After Hillary stepped out of the State Department to begin her 2016 campaign, the medals and awards came pouring in almost as fast as the television shows.
The National Constitution Center awarded her a Liberty Medal because she “traveled to more countries than any other Secretary of State” and “used social media to engage citizens”. That’s not the bio of a Secretary of State. It sounds like a celebrity getting some meaningless UN humanitarian award for tweeting about Rwanda.
The National Defense University Foundation will follow that up by giving her the Patriot Award in the Ronald Reagan Building in order to celebrate “the American spirit of patriotism” which she embodies in some unspecified way.
The ridiculous parade of awards and shows is a rerun of how Obama, an uninteresting Illinois politician, was transformed into the most interesting figure in American politics through obsessive attention and hysterical praise. But Hillary Clinton, who will be pushing seventy by the time her big moment in the sun arrives, has fewer excuses for needing to slap this much greasepaint on an undistinguished resume.
The positions that will be used as props in her quest for higher office came to her only by way of being married to the former President of the United States. And it’s impossible to find anything revolutionary that she did with those positions, except use them as launching pads for an office she was even less qualified for.
The miniseries, the series, the movies, the books and the adoring pundits will zoom in on her gender, but even that isn’t a breakthrough.
Hillary Clinton was one in a long line of female senators. She was the third female Secretary of State and her tenure is pathetic compared to either Madeline Albright, whose actual biography title was Madame Secretary, or Condoleezza Rice, the first black female Secretary of State and a major figure on the world stage. No serious historian would compare Hillary to either woman in influence or power.
Albright and Rice, for all their flaws, were hard workers with interesting biographies. Hillary Clinton, like John Kerry, was a mediocrity who got their job as a consolation prize for not winning a presidential election.
In his book The Dispensable Nation, the earliest work of Hillary historical revisionism, Vali Nasr claims that Clinton was an indispensable diplomatic genius and yet his only real example of her contribution was making a unilateral apology to Pakistan. That’s probably not going to play well in a miniseries.
Hillary’s defenders are forced to claim that they can’t assign her credit for anything because mysterious forces around Obama didn’t allow her to get anything done, reducing her bio to more victimization.
With that kind of backdrop, it’s not hard to see why CBS has to develop Madame Secretary or NBC has to air its own fictionalized version of Hillary history. There is nothing factual in Hillary’s background to justify her inevitability as a candidate. Her time as Senator and Secretary of State was a shapeless blur of undistinguished mediocrity culminating in one final bloody disaster.
Like John McCain, Hillary Clinton isn’t inevitable; she just happens to be next in line.
Transforming Hillary of Westchester into Hillary of Arabia forces her backers to reinvent her life as a work of fiction, emphasizing the challenges of her family life to distract from her lack of accomplishment. Saturating the television with Hillary fiction is the only way to distract a nation from all the troubling Hillary facts and the sobering Hillary truth.
The woman behind the pantsuit is another mediocre liberal with little to show for her life except a philandering husband, an immature 33-year-old daughter who works for her parents and a bunch of jobs that she received through her husband’s political connections.
Without Bill, Hillary would have never even made it to Congress, let alone earned the right to have her name mentioned next to Madeline Albright and Condoleezza Rice. Today she would be holding down some petty bureaucratic post or teaching political science at a local university.
Bill Clinton’s accomplishments, as destructive as they were, are real. Hillary, on the other hand is nearly as unreal a figure as Obama. Unlike Obama, there is no way to make her seem larger than life. None of the millions spent on consultants and image experts has bought her a personality of her own.
As with Obama, the entertainment industry is replacing the real Hillary with the unreal Hillary. But say what you will about Obama, he never needed an actor to play him. Hillary however will be played by Diane Lane, Geena Davis or Carey Mulligan or anyone who can convince voters that a politically connected mediocrity is interesting.
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