14 November 2016

A few years ago, in the title of an entry discussing the implications for the world of the failing health of Hugo Chávez, I alluded to a motto that ends leave a beautiful corpse[1]. That entry considered an observed practice:

When a charismatic leader dies aburptly while still in power, his or her supporters quickly begin building a mythology of what would have been accomplished had he or she lived.

I drew attention to how this mythologizing bears upon social policy:

The mythological episode of such leadership is treated as having the same standing for purposes of comparison as does historical fact. When an opponent tries to construct an argument founded on logic and general fact against policies associated with that leader, supporters treat the mythology as if it is a disproof by counter-example. What’s really happening then is that Faith is being mistaken for empirical data.

While death significantly amplifies the power of the mythologizing of a leader who was not given full opportunity to effect the programmes that he or she chose, death isn't essential for there to be some mythologizing; I noted that there was a developing narrative of what President Obama would have done had his party retained a majority in both chambers of Congress for the whole of his terms.

As it happens, charisma is also inessential, though it very much helps. And an odd substitute for direct charisma has been demonstrated. Barack Obama inflamed so much inverted narcissism on the part of his followers that a great many of them chose to treat his successor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as if she were magnificent though she is signally lacking in charisma.

At the same time, her health is failing her, and had she been elected to the Presidency, she would not likely have served through a full term. There would have been an odd sort of race between how rapidly she did things that repelled those who had been her supporters, and when she left office. Depending upon the outcome of that race, she might have left a beautiful corpse.

But Ms Clinton has lost the race for Presidential Electors. Although a few of her supporters cling to an implausible hope that the Electoral College will not merely turn its back on the detestable Donald John Trump but will elect Clinton (as opposed to some Republican other than Trump), she will not be President. And the mythologizing is already under-way, even to the level of having Ms Clinton imagined as rather prettier than she is. [image of Kathryn McKinnon Berthold in the rôle of Hillary Rodham Clinton, singing 'Hallelujah']

One does not have to regard Mr Trump as even tolerable to resist the mythologizing and to see Ms Clinton for what she has been. She has repeatedly been one of the people causing the United States military to engage in the slaughter of innocent people, for stated goals that haven't been obtained because they haven't been obtainable. She has engaged in calculated support of domestic policies such as the War of Drugs and aggressive incarceration policies that have literally led to many thousands of deaths and to the ruin of many thousands of other lives. She and her husband have got rich exactly as brokers of political influence. She has privately spoken against some policies as corrosive while publicly supporting them — or vice versa — depending upon the expected flow of dollars and of votes. She has casually disregarded laws, in the expectation (thus far vindicated) that her connections will insulate her from being charged, let alone convicted.

If Ms Clinton is to be made into a beautiful corpse, it is rather fitting that this transformation be effected while she is undead.

[1] In full, the motto is Live fast; die young; leave a beautiful corpse. It is an elaboration of an earlier motto of live fast and die young. A popular variant is Live fast; die young; leave a good-looking corpse.

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2 Responses to Evita

  • Jim says:

    I'm not saying you're a sad pig who is largely motivated by misogyny and will be alone his entire life, but... your post went from attacking her physical appearance to holding her to a different standard than male counterparts (a Sanders supporter hating Clinton for foreign policy?) and then back to attacking her physical appearance.

    Though, to be fair, if one were to judge you based upon your physical appearance, they'd assume you to be exactly what you are: a pathetic, lonely, angry loser whose associates sneer the moment he leaves the room.

    • Daniel says:

      To the extent that you aren't simply engaged in abuse, your argument hangs on a conjecture, delivered as if established fact, that I treat Ms Clinton differently as a result of her sex. You haven't bothered to seek nor stumbled upon what I've written about the fitness of anyone who might qualify as her male counterparts. (Some of what I've written may be found in other entries to this 'blog; some may be found in places such as my Facebook timeline.) I marvel that you imagine me as a supporter of Bernie Sanders.

      If you'd attended to my explanation of the metaphor of a beautiful corpse, then you'd have seen not only that it was not about physical appearance, but also that I first applied that metaphor to Hugo Chávez, who was of course not a woman. I mentioned Ms Clinton's physical appearance just once, not twice. That one point was in noting that Kate McKinnon, who was being used to represent Ms Clinton, was a rather better looking woman; it was not somehow my obligation to remain silent on the nature of the substitution.

      Since no one is attempting such substitutions in my case, my physical appearance is irrelevant here. As to whether my associates sneer at me after I leave a room, of course I cannot know, but it's not something about which I would worry.

      [I wasn't sure whether to bother replying to your comment, as opposed to deleting it. But then I thought that perhaps someone else might benefit.]

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