I like Hillary Clinton more than most of my peers and if I thought she had a snowball's chance in hell of beating John McCain I might've voted for her a few Tuesdays back, and I'm grateful that I'm enough of a sucker to let polling data keep me from having to make a difficult decision.
Despite my not voting for her, I spend about forty-five minutes a day on the phone with someone defending her, and a couple weeks ago I realized that I have been having this very same conversation for years, but only recently about Hillary. I've been making the same reluctant argument in favor of Courtney Love since I was about 15, and the opposition has been saying the same thing back, and with good reason -- they're kind of the same person.
Hillary and Courtney are both:
-Blamed (inaccurately) for their husband's worst behavior -- Hillary for Bill's failed initiatives in his presidency and his infidelity, Courtney for Kurt's drug problem, rift with Dave Grohl, and suicide.
-Two of the most talented people in their field, and probably not quite as talented as their husbands.
-Dogged by allegations that they would be nowhere without their husband's success, which is total nonsense on both counts.
-Robbed of credit for their own strengths/accomplishments -- people who say "it'll be fine since Bill will be back in the White House" and "Kurt probably was writing those songs anyway" are saying the same thing about the shadow male player.
-The most controversial woman in politics and the most controversial woman in rock and roll, despite having not created anything particularly controversial. Hole's three albums are absolutely fantastic, but in the age of the riot grrl movement of the 1990s were no more controversial than a universal health care plan similar to ones that plenty of nations had already.
-Hated by many on an irrational and emotional level. There is no cow more sacred to the Democratic party than Bill Clinton's presidency, and no cow more sacred (post-Beatles) in rock and roll than Nirvana, and all of their talents are lost compared to whatever role people imagine them to have played in their husbands' downfalls.
-They both have only-daughters with slightly left of center, but not incredibly silly names that happen to be the names of famous hotels.
Once their husbands' most powerful days were behind them (Kurt shot himself in the head, Bill's second term ended with him shooting himself in the foot over and over again between Monica, the Marc Rich pardon, on and on and on), Hillary and Courtney have continued to hold hands on their own rollercoasters. They surprised surprised their detractors with a strong senate term and 1998's Celebrity Skin, both effective works that will be remembered as great, if close-to-the-vest points in their career that did a lot to prove their talents - if they are not overshadowed by their follow-ups.
Love's next album, her first without Hole titled America's Sweetheart was an overproduced disaster of an album unparalleled by nothing in history, until a month ago when Hillary's campaign caught up with it, and unless the album that Courtney has been working on since then comes out in the next two weeks is the next Sgt. Pepper, I'm inclined to believe that Hillary has a tough road ahead of her.
Having come of age in the 1990s, I possess a jerky nostalgia for the days of grunge and the dot-com boom, and hope that the women of the two most important couples of the decade are not frozen in history in their current frames: Hillary at the tail end of a mess of a campaign and Courtney in a mess of a drug problem and a crappy album. Behind the recent missteps and the remarkably similar emotional hatred that the two of them are party to are good and respectable records that stand up on their own and are worth looking at and listening to. Hillary '08 and that gig where Love got dragged off the stage opening for Jane's Addiction will be tough to rebound from -- we'll see.
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