By now if you’re a liberal who frequents social media at all, you’ve probably seen the clip of David Axelrod interviewing Jon Stewart about this year’s election.
Side note: Of all the elections Jon, why did you choose this one to quit The Daily Show?
Anyway, the things that Stewart said about trump were the makings of classic Stewart-inspired headlines about “OBLITERATING,” “TRASHING,” and “DESTROYING” things. He said that he wondered if Trump was even eligible, but not because of some birther thing, just because of his freakishly small hands and generally shitty demeanor. He of course ended his rant on Trump by evoking one of my favorite pejorative nicknames he ever made up, “Fuckface von Clownstick.”
But did you happen to catch another segment of Stewart and Axelrod talking, this time about Hillary Clinton? Hillary Hawks might want to close their ears and eyes for the next three minutes. This is what happens when you ask comedians — whose true medium is truth — about subjects; you get truthful, funny answers.
Unsurprisingly to me, Stewart masterfully summed-up my own misgivings about Clinton. While Stewart went on to say he would vote for Hillary and I am staying “Bernie or Bust” because I live in a safely Democratic state, the remarks he made about Hillary’s inability to synthesize a human-sounding answer without it being an obvious, politically calculated remark is a major problem she has in selling herself to the public, but that’s not really all Jon said is it?
In his very first sentence in response to Axelrod asking him what he’d be saying about Hillary if he were still hosting The Daily Show, Stewart uncorked a witty, brilliant summation of the former Secretary of State that I think speaks to the true heart of the problems she will face in the General, and is the root of her problem both in 2008 and in this year’s primary (which yes, Hillary peeps, she is winning in a commanding fashion, but still not sweeping the table by any means).
In case you missed it, here’s what he said:
“What I think about Hillary Clinton is, you know, I imagine [her] to be a very bright woman without the courage of her convictions, because I’m not even sure what they are.” – Jon Stewart May, 2016
And there you have it. The “without the courage of her convictions” bit was a real stinger, but the “I’m not even sure what they are” line was the haymaker. It’s not that Hillary is evil. It’s not that she’s a crook — at least for those of us who disagree with her on rational grounds. It’s that her principles are slippery as fuck. They call her husband “Slick Willy” because nothing sticks to him and that’s because he’s a moving target, and so is Hillary. You can’t pin her down to one viewpoint she’s held because she has triangulating the living hell out of her political career and has stood on nearly every side of every issue.
Some say that makes her intelligent for changing with the times, and there is truth to that. As someone who came to a modern liberal way of thinking by way of years of conservative, Christian upbringing and values, I can appreciate people changing their minds. Then again, I’m not running for president, and on issues where I have already “seen the light” you won’t find me defending my previously held shitty opinions on things. I just won’t. Hillary, on the other hand, will defend every terrible vote she took and every horrid opinion she spoke so as never to admit being wrong, which is you know, how adults are supposed to behave right?
The bottom line is that Jon’s right. Hillary is a better alternative to Trump, and I in no way begrudge anyone who votes for her as they hold their nose. Hell, if I lived in a swing state I don’t think I’d be willing to risk my vote by going “Bernie or Bust.” But if you’re a true-blue Hillary supporter and you don’t come to full grips with how people outside your bubble think of her, you are in a for a very rude awakening.
I’m not saying that Hillary will lose if she does go and seal-up the nomination like she very probably will. What I’m saying is that I really don’t want to listen to Democrats kvetching two years from now when she pitches her boat hard right on some issue you swore she was super-duper liberal on. What Jon Stewart was speaking to, I believe, was this exact phenomenon. That she is so opaque in her rhetoric and so transient in her values that she comes off as empty, and unprincipled. It’s a major problem for her, and will be going forward. Stewart is a brilliant, funny man and he’s no ideologue, so I think you can take his words as face value.
Is Hillary better than Trump? Of course. Does that exonerate her for her absolutely cynical and transparent attempts to play every side of every issue? Ask the people whose loved ones died of AIDS in the 80’s and watched her praise Nancy Reagan for her efforts in the crisis that she and her husband were literally ignoring. Ask the children of those who are murdered using the guns she helped get shipped into war zones across the globe as Secretary of State how they feel about her bold stance against the gun lobby domestically. And maybe, if you do that, you must might see why Hillary has a morality blind spot that turns people off to her. Maybe it won’t turn enough people off to where she’ll lose, and maybe she won’t.
But you owe it yourself to view the world through as clear and reality-based a lens as possible; and Jon Stewart just did his best to try and defog your spectacles a tiny, tiny bit.