Monday, August 01, 2016

August 1, 2016--Bill & Hillary

It's Shakespearean, Bill & Hillary Clinton's relationship. But even after all these years it is yet unclear if it's a comedy or a tragedy.

For a glimpse of what might be the truth, here is how Bill began his Philip-Roth-like speech the other night at the Democratic convention--
In the spring of 1971, I met a girl. The first time I saw her, we were, appropriately enough, in a class on  political and civil rights. She had thick blond hair, big glasses. Wore no makeup. And she exuded this air of strength of self-possession I found magnetic.
After the class, I followed her out, intending to introduce myself. I got close enough to touch her back, but I couldn't do it. Somehow, I knew this would not be just another tap on the shoulder, that I might be starting something I couldn't stop. 
I saw her several more times the next couple of days but still didn't speak to her. Then one night in the law library talking to a classmate who wanted me to join the Yale Law Journal, he said it would guarantee me a job at a big law firm or a clerkship with a federal judge. I said I wasn't interested--I just wanted to go home to Arkansas.
Rachel Maddow on MSNBC thought the speech was "weird," perhaps even demeaning. Certainly, she said, it was not feminist to talk about the Democratic nominee, the first female nominee, as just a "girl."

What I on the other hand took away from the speech were feelings about love and sadness.

The love upwardly-aspiring Bill had for Hillary as more than just brilliant and seething with ambition, but a flesh and blood woman for whom stirred an immediate attraction and even lust. It humanized her. Which he felt necessary to do since she has a problem in public with appearing to be human.

The speech's comic side was quickly revealed by all the late night comics who quipped--

"In 1971, I met a girl. In 1972, I met a girl. In 1973, I met a girl. In 1974 . . ."

The sad, the tragic side was of love lost. Or compromised.

To have begun this loving way 45 years ago and to know about the wreckage he later brought down upon that love and to the life-long commitment he claimed that began that first day when all he wanted to was touch her back.

In his speech of course there was no mention of that other girl he met in November 1995, in the Oval Office, a girl who . . .

It was, though, a remarkable speech. Hopefully even in large part genuine.

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