Saturday night, I went to the Jefferson Jackson dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, and listened to Nancy Pelosi and all of the Democratic candidates (except for chic-magnet Dennis Kucinich, who wasn't invited). By the way, Nancy, it was me, who in moments of silence, kept shouting "Impeach Cheney!" I wasn't heckling you. I was REMINDING you. Here's the rundown:
Edwards was the most dynamic, Richardson was the most reassuring, Biden was the best screamer, Dodd doesn't stick in my mind, Clinton was the most programmed, and Obama was more serious and mature than I had expected from his pictures.
Subsequently, I read Andrew Sullivan's article in The Atlantic about the meaning of Obama's candidacy, Joe Klein's article in Time about Clinton, Joseph Stiglitz' article in Vanity Fair detailing the economic shit that is going to hit the fan as a result of Bush's War Crime (and here I decided I had better move to France if I don't want to be impoverished in my old age). I read the Blackwater contract in the October Harper's (a must-read). And then I had a dream in which I interviewed Hillary Clinton:
Hillary: Thank you, Jane, for interviewing me, and giving me a chance to discuss my real feelings about the issues confronting the American people.
Jane: My pleasure, Senator, but please don't use that phrase "the American People." Whenever anyone uses that phrase, I know that he or she is about to pronounce some bit of political bullsh*t.
Hillary: What is your first question?
Jane: What is it that you most want to happen to the U.S.?
Hillary: I want to end the divisions in the American People between the right and the left, and to calm the political storm that we see round us. I want to move forward toward a more just society where children have healthcare and Americans feel safe--
Jane: Excuse me, Senator Clinton, but these phrases don't mean anything. They are too general. Let's take the issues of your candidacy one at a time. In the hypothetical situation that your candidacy proves as divisive as polls say it will be (84 percent of Republicans would not vote for you under any circumstances), how would you expect your candidacy to quell divisions?
Hillary: Giving speeches, advertising, enunciating policies, and plain old familiarity could reduce that number.
Jane: Opposition to you is more entrenched than it is to any other candidate.
Hillary: Well, to tell the truth I don't care about that. This is something I want to do. I feel that I have worked hard and I deserve this. This is my payback.
Jane: But don't you risk taking the whole Democratic party down with you?
Hillary: That's the business of the Democratic party, not me. I want to do this, and I have the money and corporate support. The donors know me, and I know them, and we understand each other. That's what's important to me.
Jane: On to another question, then. On many issues dear to the Democratic base, you have voted with George Bush. You have failed to act on your stated opposition to his disastrous policies. Why is that?
Hillary: I have always explained my votes. There are details to every issue that the American People don't understand that I do understand. Elected officials are expected to know more than their constituents, and I do. The average citizen really can't have an informed opinion, but I am very experienced, and my opinion is the best informed.
Jane: So, on balance, you have agreed to Bush's policies, even though they are almost uniformly deleterious to the U.S. economy, society, and world prestige?
Hillary: I don't AGREE with them, but I don't MIND them. I can see his point of view. And when things come up for a vote in the Congress, I DO see his point of view. Don't forget, I've been in the White House. A president doesn't like to go hat in hand to Congress, or have his or her ideas subject to Congressional oversight. I want to be president, so as a member of Congress, I don't plan to pre-empt my own future power. That's the most important thing.
Jane: What about your ties, and those of your husband, to powerful corporate donors?
Hillary: CEOs are people like anyone else. They have needs and desires. Just because they have lots and lots of money doesn't mean we should ignore them. And it is good for my campaign not to ignore them. Look at John Edwards. He can't even afford TV advertising in IOWA of all places. It isn't realistic to act in opposition to your own ruling class. You can give them most of what they want and still have okay healthcare and schools and infrastucture. At least, that's what I believe now. We'll see how that works out when I am elected.
Jane: Why do you want to stay in Iraq for your first term?
Hillary: Because it would be a sign of weakness, in me and in the American People, to cut and run. I'm a woman and a Democrat. I can't simply redefine character and courage. The American People like to swagger and act tough, and I have to act that way in order to get elected, which is my first priority. Also, we've built all those buildings and bases over there. We can't just walk away from them.
Jane: Your main principle seems to be to talk big and carry a small stick. When I heard you in Des Moines, you seemed to want the "Hillary production" to distract us from what you were saying -- you left specific ideas for the end of a long speech, during which your supporters, who had been equipped with inflatable bats to beat together, repeatedly prevented the audience from actually listening to what you were saying.
Hillary: That is my principle, and who's to say, if it gets me elected, that it's not a good principle? I'll do anything to get elected, and my handlers think that voters respond better to hypnosis than they do to ideas. That's fine with me. My whole campaign is about the power of advertising.
Jane: At the same time, if you enunciated your principles more clearly, then we would have something to hold you to in the unlikely circumstance that you were actually elected while forgoing the votes of something like a third of the voters.
Hillary: Exactly! Why should I give you something to hold against me? You liked my husband when he was president. That should be enough for you.
Jane: Is it enough for you?
Jane: Do you see what a dangerous moment in U.S. history that this is?
Hillary: I say I do.
Needless to say, I woke up from this dream screaming.