Perhaps no modern American politician is as uncomfortable in their skin as Hillary Clinton.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
Last Wednesday night, an hour-long interview with Hillary Clinton, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, aired on television. This alone is remarkable. Few candidates at this level, at this stage of the election cycle, grant any media outlet that much time.
Even more remarkable: This sit-down wasn’t with “60 Minutes,” Charlie Rose or “Meet the Press.” Instead, Clinton took questions from little-known former rock ’n’ roll groupie and celebrity-hanger-on Amanda de Cadenet, who has a talk show on the Lifetime network.
The event was not heavily publicized — curious, as the network is attempting to rebrand itself. Landing Hillary should have been an obvious coup: the longest sit-down of 2016 with the first viable female presidential candidate, here on a network expressly for women.
But it’s easy to see why they buried it. Here was the candidate, perched uncomfortably in the corner of a fluffy white couch, arm resting on a needlepoint pillow that read “A Woman’s Place is in the White House,” fielding questions about emotional wounds, abandonment issues, triggers, the shame and fear of womanhood — basically everything we associate with Hillary Clinton.
“How do you process all the emotion coming at you?” de Cadenet asked, before advising one of the world’s most powerful women to “process it somewhere at home, because if you don’t . . . yeah.”
“This is so much fun!” Hillary squealed.
Perhaps no modern American politician is as uncomfortable in their skin as Hillary Clinton. No matter what you think of their politics, the same cannot be said of Obama, Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders — and the latter is now polling within striking distance of Hillary.
It’s her bête noir: the less she’s seen in public, the more people like her — and the more visible she is, her poll numbers plummet. No wonder the DNC is burying the Democratic presidential debates on weekends, when viewership is lowest, in order to protect Hillary. (There’s another one tonight.)
The Lifetime debacle is part of some demented, Sisyphean quest to make Hillary Clinton seem hip and cool, and it’s beyond uncomfortable.
It began in earnest last September, when she sat down with Lena Dunham. It was days after Lenny Kravitz had a wardrobe malfunction while performing, a slip that went viral. Lenny, it turned out, was also the name of Dunham’s new online magazine, and Dunham lobbed a softball that was meant to seem spontaneous — just two gals gossiping over the hot guy.
“Did you see the footage where, like, his pants split?” Dunham asked. “I mean, his stuff, like, fell out of his pants.”
“No, I missed that,” Clinton said, finger on chin. “Do you think I could get that . . . on YouTube? Yeah, I’ll look for that.”
Last week, Hillary also appeared on “Ellen,” where she attempted a hip-hop move.
“Hillary Clinton ‘dabbed’ on ‘Ellen’, and we just want to know why,” said USA Today.
And Thursday night, during an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” the famously techno-phobic Hillary — who, we learned in last year’s e-mail dump, does not know how to work a fax machine — claimed to avidly be using “Snapchat, Twitter” — all of it.
Could millennials be buying this?
In the 2008 campaign, Hillary ran away from her gender, while Obama deftly, subtly navigated the historical import of becoming the first black president. Now, it’s as though she took the Obama playbook in its crudest form and is running explicitly as a woman, which she seems to think means being silly and frivolous. It’s pandering, and it’s a betrayal.
Watching her forcibly interact with a carefully cultivated mix of YouTube stars on de Cadenet’s show — strangers far too comfortable unloading their personal struggles with infertility and mom guilt — you could see Hillary straining to appear engaged, to elevate garden-variety narcissism into social awareness.
“My YouTube channel was born out of me giving myself permission to celebrate who I am without shame or fear,” said Shameless Maya.
Hillary played along, tossing out aphorisms of the sisterhood. “Don’t let anyone take your power away,” she said.
A stylist named Chriselle Lim had a question. “I would like to know . . . what attribute do you think that a female president could bring, you know . . .”
“To the White House!” de Cadenet added.
This may rank among the most unbelievable things to ever come out of Hillary Clinton’s mouth:
“I believe we need more love and kindness and nurturing in our country and in the world,” she said. “And I don’t mean this to be real gushy . . . I mean it seriously.”
“Preach it,” said panelist Glozelle.
“What does a girls’ night look like?” Shameless Maya asked.
“With my friends . . . having a great time,” Hillary said. ”Tellin’ stories, uh . . . makin’ fun of each other. And I was with a group of my friends at a big event the other night, and we were dancing, and it was crazy. Oh my gosh. It was dancing. Oh my God. So much fun. And you know, I sort of forgot that I had high heels on and I was jumpin’, jumpin’, jumpin’, and you know.”
“You whipped a nae nae,” said Glozelle.
“We were so happy — thank you,” replied a befuddled Hillary.
So here we have Hillary Clinton, version 3.0, whipping nae naes, Snapchatting, searching for Lenny Kravitz’s junk online and all around just being down. No way this can’t work.
As it turns out, however, de Cadenet’s last question was unintentionally telling. “What is your idea of freedom?” she asked.
“Being able to be who I am,” Hillary replied. If only the American voters knew, after all this time, just who that was.