Thursday, 10 November 2016

A mercy for Hillary and for the country

When Hillary Clinton finally delivered her concession speech she was at her best. Though dressed for the circumstance in funereal black and purple, she was calm and poised, she spoke graciously and sensibly. If she'd spoken like this during the campaign, who knows how different the result could have been? But I don't think she could have spoken like this during the campaign - or at any time during her long and persistent political career. The reason she came across so well, I believe, is precisely because she was conceding defeat. Her presidential ambitions, nurtured through decades of scheming and revearsals, had at last come to nought. There was no longer an agenda; no calculation behind the eyes, no lying, no tightly reined in fury, no shouting and screeching when the fury got the bit in its teeth, no malevolent sense of entitlement. There was only her, and she seemed like a perfectly nice lady. On that showing, the death of her ambitions was the best thing that could have happened to her as a person. If she'd conducted all of her life without a consuming political ideology, who knows how much genuine good she could have accomplished? She could might even have baked the odd batch of cookies, with a love and generosity. Defeat in 2016 also spares Hillary the physical rigours of the Presidency. She has rallied commendably since her ailments culminated in a September collapse but it is difficult to see how she could have weathered four years of a job that would make the intensity of the campaign trail pale in comparison. Where the country is concerned, it is a mercy Mrs Clinton was not elected on the basis of her being woman. This was the ever more strident demand from her and from her celebrity supporters: to elect her because she's a woman. And this is where the old Hillary peeped through in the concession speech, when she addressed little girls specifically, and pushed the limitless ambition thing on them yet again. It was cringe-making partiality and a reprehensible focus on 'gender' (or sex as it used to be called more accurately). If the tenure of the First Black President has resulted in hugely increased, not decreased, racial antagonism then a First Woman President, elected simply for being a woman, could easily have led to more, not less, gender obsession. Better to elect a woman President when the right one comes along, one who is right because of every other consideration apart from her sex.