“Avoid the line. Vote from home. Text Hillary to 59925.” — an online joke by Douglas Mackey
“Conspiracy Against Rights”? How about lèse-majesté, an offense in this case against soreheaded loser Hillary?
Paul Begala is credited with the quip: “Politics is show business for ugly people.” Given his close, working connection with Hillary Rodham Clinton, it is a safe bet that HRC up close was his inspiration for that deliciously cynical bon mot. American politics is show business of the low-brow, carnivalesque genre, and the American presidential election has become the traveling Big Top Circus, replete with sideshow freaks and clowns. John Fetterman, Maxine Waters, anyone?
The sinister impresarios behind the curtain employ an array of gaslighting fast-talkers and credentialed phonies: pollsters, pundits, campaign strategists, and talk-show oracles devoted to turning this quadrennial Opéra bouffe into a source of perennial entertainment. It helps that the typical headliner comes with an unsavory history and a gangrenous mass of character defects that bars him from honest employment.
What made the 2016 contest more fun and unpredictable than usual was the spectacularly garish Orange Man doing Don Rickles, crashing the invitation-only party and pouring down a tsunami of insults on the pre-programmed stuffed shirts who didn’t take him seriously until it was too late — “Lock her up!” If only.
As we approach election year 2024, the promotional machinery is already moving into speculative — “who’s it going to be?” — high gear. Injecting a unique element of burlesque into the upcoming election-hype is the serious bind the Democrats are in, wondering what to do about Slow Joe. The leader of the Free World resembles someone’s “missing pieces” uncle in his slippers and bathrobe, stashed away in the Memory Care unit at Crazy Horse Village for Senior Living. Biden’s backup is a grotesque, Affirmative Action stooge whose singular talent is to make her every public appearance an occasion for ridicule and embarrassment.
To provide some temporary relief from the growing agitation about 2024 for what will likely be the most dishonestly covered, heads-we-lose/tails-we-lose presidential election in history, it would be entertaining, as in horror-show frisson, to entertain a historical counterfactual. Let’s challenge our imaginations with the what-if of the aftermath of a Hillary Clinton victory in 2016.
In a certain sense, our own, lovable Madam Defarge did win that election: consider the Douglas Mackey verdict, the Trump indictment, and the “martyrdom” of George Floyd – not exactly what the voters on the winning side wanted or expected. Who on Inauguration Day in 2017 could have predicted that things would go so badly, so quickly, and that the myrmidons in both parties would unleash the rabble to plunder the cities and declare war on white Americans?
Below is what America might have become if on November 8, 2016, a few thousand deplorable, irredeemable voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania had forgotten to go to the polls.
On January 21, 2017, Hillary Clinton, wife of the “first black President” of the United States and Secretary of State of the second one, was inaugurated as POTUS numero 45. Snoop Dogg was chosen to perform his commissioned rap version of the National Anthem at the inauguration ceremony. “Overdue and deeply moving,” was the Washington Post’s response. The benediction prayer was given by Washington, DC imam, Mohammed Hossam-Basser. Clinton’s inaugural address made several references to glass ceilings, the burning of black churches, and reverential mentions of Emmett Till and Matthew Shepard.
From the New York Times: “An inspirational inauguration for voiceless Americans.”
Three weeks later, Senate Republican leaders, after a series of unanswered requests, were finally granted a brief audience with the new POTUS. The President had been busy meeting with Al Sharpton, who was tapped to create and lead the cabinet-level Office for Reparations and Racial Justice. As well there were antifa leaders, LBGT advocates, and throngs of Hollywood celebrities who had supported her campaign. The future of the Lincoln bedroom was, once again, weighing heavily on her mind. Would Saudi or Chinese Clinton Foundation donors get first crack at the overnights?
The Republicans still enjoyed a slender majority of Senate seats, but majority leader Senator Mitch McConnell couldn’t wait to meet with the new Commander-in-Chief and announce that, after consulting with Paul Ryan, the Republican Congressional leadership had concluded that the “opposition” — as in “loyal opposition” — was a hopelessly outdated male-chauvinist trope, and that under his leadership, loyal opposition would have no operational function in the 115th Congress: “We understand, Madame President, that for powerful men to oppose a strong woman would simply show our insecurity and weakness. We acknowledge that you are a strong woman, and we, as powerful men, of course, want you to be successful.”
President Clinton seemed to be pleased, but was skeptical. “Okay, Mack, I think this is a good start, but . . .”
“It’s Mitch,” interjected the Kentucky Senator.
“Yeah, whatever.” President Clinton was obviously annoyed. “But don’t interrupt me (a slight sneer breaks out). Maybe you think you’re a ‘powerful man’, but ‘powerful’ — are you joking? And the other part is, well, somewhat questionable, from what I have heard. So, if you are really serious, here is the latest newsflash: Ruth Ginsburg has — surprise, surprise — decided to retire, having barely survived the Trump nightmare. Who would have guessed that so many Americans were so stupid? Then, of course, there is the Supreme Court seat of the dead Dago, Tony, that needs filling. And by the way, thanks, Mick, for holding up the Merrick Garland nomination last year. Since we already have three Jews on the court, what good does another one from that tribe do us? Wait till you see who I have in mind. How does the first trans, disabled SCOTUS justice sound for Scalia’s replacement? Ha! Roll over, Antonin, you fascist pig! And Ginsburg? I haven’t decided yet, but you boys have a lot of pent-up Islamophobia to deal with, so just think about that and how you can atone for it. Another ‘first’ for Rainbow America. Better late than never. No opposition, right? I’m counting on it.”
Senator Marco Rubio, who had been allowed to come to the meeting, jumped in at this point. “Madame President, we’ll be eager to confirm your nominees. You could conjure up the ghost of Che Guevara, give him an honorary law degree, and — aw, shucks — we’d give him the nod. You are the President, and you get to put whoever you want on the court. As we go forward, you may hear now and again of public criticism from me of you, but I need to do a bit of that to keep the Right-wing rednecks in north Florida and the Panhandle off my case. Please know that I am committed to making the first woman President successful.”
President Clinton heaved a sigh of relief (thinking to herself, “Wow, these schmucks are even bigger pushovers and suckups than I could have possibly imagined. So much for that ‘vast Right-wing conspiracy.’”) Then, sarcastically: “Thanks, little Marco. Yes, I am glad that you comprehend that I am the President. How do I say it in Spanish? Yo soy . . . Never mind. Did you get the gift I sent you last week, the lifts for your shoes? Those will help with the optics when we put you up as the token opposition in my 2020 reelection campaign. I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, little guy. You need some extra inches. No extra points for me in a landslide against a shrimp. Ah, that silly word, ‘opposition.’ Okay, I guess, as long as it stays token. After this meeting I think I am now feeling very confident. Thank you.” A long, loud cackle from the President helps to break the tension.
John McCain, who was still kicking at the time, was also present at this meeting. He seemed to be one of the few Republicans that Hillary had a soft spot for, from her days in the Senate. Senator McCain made a plea, hoping that the new Clinton administration would take more aggressive action against Iran. President Clinton was quite pleased with this. “Yes, John, I am very inclined to bomb the Iranians back to the stone age. Hey, why not? Better than that aspirin factory Bill incinerated in South Sudan back in 1998 after he was diddling, you know, that fat slut in the Oval Office. Barack was way too soft on the Iranians. That’s what happens when you turn a pussy like John Kerry out on his own. Those sexist Mullahs will learn that if they try to fuck with this woman, they’ll all be flirting with the 72 virgins sooner than you can say Allahu Akbar. But now that I’m thinking about it, I’d like to get rid of Putin, too. Give him the old bayonet-up-the-bum once over like we did with that jerk Gaddafi. Remember? One of my best lines ever: ‘He came, we saw, he died.’ How is that for a robust foreign policy statement? But what a douchebag Vlad turned out to be — another man who can’t relate to a strong woman. So, before we decide to turn Persia into smoke and ashes, we’ll need to sort out just what our priorities are going to be for making the world more humane, safer, and less violent, especially for women.” Senator McCain was a bit disappointed with her tentative response, but thought to himself, “I think she’ll be fine.”
Senator Rubio was attempting to follow up with some additional foreign policy questions, but President Clinton cut him off. “Now, if you boys will excuse me, Bill is outside the Oval Office. I do love to keep the old Hound Dog waiting a bit. He needs my approval for his list of White House interns. Don’t worry, I have him on a short leash now. No more looney tunes this time around to get us off track. Besides, I have cut off his Viagra prescription, permanently. Whoa! Is that Freudian, or what?” She gasps and clutches her Tahitian Pearl necklace, a gift from the world-renown women’s rights advocate, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon. “In any case, it’s unseemly for an ex-President, don’t you think? Let me know, though, if any of you could use it. E-mail me — first come, first served — and do I have to say, use my personal e-mail address.”
In her first State of the Union address, President Clinton unveiled her plan to deal with that large block of “deplorables” who did not vote for her. “As I stated in my campaign,” she said, “these people are ‘thankfully, not part of America,’ and I fully intend to see that they indeed remain ‘irredeemable,’ and will never again threaten the foundations of our vibrant democracy.” She was then interrupted by applause from both sides of the aisle. “On the presidential campaign trail last fall, I saw many yard signs that said, ‘Hate has no home here.’ Well, I am telling the American people here tonight . . .” She raised her voice. “Hate has no home here, and not anywhere in this country — not in the schools, not in the universities, not in the churches, not on television or newspapers, not on the Internet or social media — and I am putting you on notice, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Mark Levine, and all your hate-spewing wannabees: not on the radio!” She was again interrupted by wild, standing applause from both sides of the aisle. “Tomorrow, I will sign an executive order that will make it a criminal offense to use language that makes those who have suffered from white privilege to feel intimidated, offended, or uncomfortable. To make any powerless person in my United States of America feel excluded will be a serious crime. This may eventually be challenged in the Supreme Court, but I am very confident . . .” She cast a stern glance at Senator McConnell, who smiled weakly. “. . . that this effort will prevail.”
There was, of course, more on President Clinton’s agenda than the eradication of hate speech. “For too long, gun violence has plagued this country. Under my administration, gun violence will come to an end. I will ask Congress to sponsor comprehensive legislation that will finally address this issue head-on. As of tonight, I am declaring the National Rifle Association to be an organized criminal enterprise, complicit in the death of victims of school shootings. Its officials will be arrested and prosecuted under the existing Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and the organization dismantled by federal marshals with the assistance of the National Guard. Gun manufacturers will, under the new laws, be held criminally and civilly liable for mass shootings. Gun ownership is a privilege, not a right, and that privilege will only be extended to those who bear the burden of protecting those of us in public service from the threat of violence from the growing threat of White Nationalist extremism. Once again, I am confident that Supreme Court will support the truly democratic voice of the American people in this matter.” There was again standing applause, minus a few Republican Congressmen.
President Clinton was still not finished outlining her agenda for a kinder, gentler America. “America must have comprehensive immigration reform, and it must happen now!” More applause. “Our democratic values are those of diversity, inclusion, and equity. The American people voted against exclusion last November, and as your President, I stand before you tonight. And I say that for those of you who are undocumented and hiding in the shadows, afraid of the racist police and those bigoted xenophobes who voted for the Republican candidate: no one is illegal. The whole of America is your precious sanctuary, and with the path to citizenship that I will propose, be assured that the weight of your votes will very soon ensure that the electoral influence of those deplorables who nearly ended our democracy last fall will rapidly shrink. They will soon experience – deservedly — what it is like to be a despised, and eventually tiny minority.” There was then wild standing applause, with only a few elderly Republican Congressmen sitting and looking scared.
By two years into the Hillary Clinton presidency, the official violent crime statistics, excluding offenses by neo-Nazis and White Nationalists, were at an all-time low. With talk-radio now defunct, hate speech was just another dark spot in America’s racist history. Michael Savage had died from a mysterious illness, and Rush was doing infomercials on cable TV for anti-smoking products. Federal employees were “encouraged” to make regular contributions to the Clinton Foundation, which were then automatically deducted from their paychecks. The Foundation was bequeathed to Chelsea to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, and then managed from her $10 million penthouse in Manhattan. First Husband Bill led a national effort to raise awareness of and to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.
With nothing but glowing, positive coverage from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN, HRC’s approval ratings was running at an average of 90%. Texas, Florida, and Georgia were all trending blue. Rumors were circulated in the Wall Street Journal that the Republicans were considering forgoing the nomination process for a candidate in 2020 and asking that Hillary Clinton’s reelection be affirmed by popular acclamation alone.
Late one evening in 2018, the President was reviewing the long list of her new campaign donors and pondering which popular actress should be given the role of playing her in a movie that would soon be released on Netflix, which was being produced by a rehabilitated Clinton campaign donor, Harvey Weinstein. Perhaps Meryl Streep, but she was a bit old for the part, Hillary concluded. She looked over at Bill, who was thinking about which White House furniture the First Couple could take with them when they left DC for the second time.
“Hey there, William Jefferson Clinton,” Hillary said, “is this just what we always dreamed of back at Yale law?”
Bill looked up and grinned. “Well, Hill, like I said before, it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”
* * *
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