Steyn on Culture
As we announced earlier, SteynOnline is marking the official launch of Hillary 2016! by rerunning some favorites of mine since I first started writing about Mrs Clinton back in the Nineties. So, as we pitch base camp on the Hill to die on, here's my review of her memoirs, Living History, from Britain's Sunday Telegraph of June 16th 2003. That was a long time ago, but, as you'll see towards the end, this piece marks the moment when I began to discern just where her ultimate ambition might lie:
WHO IS Hillary Rodham Clinton? We all know her husband. He's a hard guy to be non-intimate with. Early in his presidency, he was asked on television what kind of underwear he wore and replied that he mostly preferred boxers but occasionally wore briefs. Then his penis was officially examined by a US Naval surgeon when its curvature became a matter of legal dispute. Next his semen was analysed by the FBI crime lab.
Now go back to that early revelation: boxers or briefs. Imagine asking Hillary what kind of bra she wears, underwired or not. You can't do it. In inverse proportion to her pants-dropping husband, Senator Clinton has become ever more swathed in protective clothing. For years we've wondered: What's she really like? What's going on deep inside, under that I-Speak-Your-Weight-machine voice?
Now in this searingly intimate portrait, the most intriguing woman of our time finally tells all. You'll marvel at her painful candour as she reveals: France's Bernadette Chirac is "an elegant, cultured woman"!, Nicaragua's Violeta Chamorro is "an elegant, striking woman"!!, Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto is "a brilliant and striking woman"!!!, Canada's Aline ChrÃ©tien is "intelligent, sharply observant and elegant"!!!! ...but Russia's Naina Yeltsin is merely "personable and articulate about children and their health care needs".
Hmm. As for Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, they aren't in the least bit elegant, cultured, striking, elegant, brilliant, elegant, striking, elegant, sharply observant and elegant, so Senator Clinton has less to say about them. No one will ever confuse Living History with oral history, that's for sure. And Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick aren't even personable and articulate about health care needs, so they don't get mentioned at all.
Somewhere in this book, 300 or 400 pages in, the Senator reveals, apropos Whitewater or some such, that "I've always believed in a zone of privacy" for public figures, but that it's increasingly difficult to maintain in an era of the "politics of personal destruction". Yet Mrs Clinton - courtesy of her publisher's advance - has created a fabulous $8 million zone of privacy, an impregnable stockade from behind which she lobs over an unending barrage of woozy platitudes.
By my calculations, for that five-word description of the Prime Minister of Canada's wife, Simon & Schuster paid 200 bucks. You might think they got ripped off, but I'm not so sure. Hillary's constituency doesn't want soul-baring, they want dullness - the dullness that reassures them that there remains an alternative Clinton history without interns and Gap dresses and whether the deponent touched the adumbrated parts - but with lots of important accomplishments on serious matters.
As it happens, there's as little in here about the specifics of Hillary's health care plan as there is about the specifics of Bill's penile curvature, but no one will ever know because no one who isn't being paid to will get that far. Hillary's fans will buy the book, open Chapter One, and read, "I wasn't born a First Lady or a Senator. I wasn't born a Democrat. I wasn't born a lawyer or an advocate for women's rights and human rights. I wasn't born a wife or mother . . .", and think, well, that's just like the early bits of the Old Testament, all the begetting, or in this case all the things she wasn't begot as, so I'll just skip ahead to Chapter Two, and I'll bet it's really cracking along by now.
And Chapter Two begins:
And you think, well, isn't that just wonderfully diverse, and she heard it from an actual tribe in Kenya! Any tribesman in particular? Or did they all yell it out in unison as her motorcade passed by? Either way, it's the sort of soothing multicultural sentiment that separates enlightened Democrats from rabid redneck Clinton-haters, and that's all you need to know. So you put the book up on the shelf and never open it ever again.
The main victim of this approach is Bill Clinton. From the moment they met, she knew he "had a vitality that seemed to shoot out of his pores", but not a lot shoots out in these pages. One reason is that Monica got to all the personal details first in her interviews with Andrew Morton for Monica's Story: Bill and Hillary's song was "I'll Be Seeing You", and so was Bill and Monica's. He gave Hillary Walt Whitman's Leaves Of Grass after their first date and he gave it to Monica after their first "date". The Leaves Of Grass quote that opens Monica's Story - "All these - all the meanness and agony without end, I sitting look out upon . . ." - would be much better for Hill's, but Monica's book came out first, and to be honest it captures Bill's oozing pores better than his wife's does.
Monica's Bill is the Lounge-Lizard-In-Chief:
Hillary's Bill is a clunky wonk:
Monica says, "The irony is that I had the first orgasm of the relationship." Hill's account reads like she's still waiting.
In Monica's Story, the intern's continuing contacts with her previous adulterer drive the President of the United States into paroxysms of jealousy: "He's such a jerk!" rages the leader of the free world over his rival - high school drama teacher Andy Bleiler. In Hillary's version, you feel only the absence of Bill's much vaunted "passion".
For anyone who still cares, there are two versions of events. Either Hill is Bill's co-conspirator and, in the furtherance of their own ambitions, they used the Democratic Party the way Bill uses women. Or there's this book's version, in which she's the last person on the planet still willing to believe Bill's version of events - not the smart, savvy operator her fans claim but such a poor judge of character, who'd want her as president?
But time and again the Clintons have survived setbacks that would have clobbered lesser politicians. And the more one reads between the unreadable lines of this book the more one begins to wonder if using gregarious Bill as the advance man for chilly Hilly's own ambitions wasn't all part of the plan. I can see her running, and I can see her narrowly winning. History repeats itself: first, trouser-dropping farce; then, pantsuited zombie horror.
~from The Sunday Telegraph, June 16th 2003. Many of Mark's best columns on the Clintons can be found in his anthology Mark Steyn From Head To Toe. Personally autographed copies are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore, and go to support his pushback against serial litigant, Big Climate enforcer and fraudulent Nobel Laureate Michael E Mann.
from Hill Fever Week at SteynOnline!, April 14, 2015
Why are media feminists more agitated over fake rape than real rape?
The murder of Matthew Shepard 17 years ago - is the clearest example of what happens when a favored lobby group inserts itself between the news coverage and reality
So, just as President Obama is giving a big speech on cyber-security, the jihackists of the Islamic State manage to take over the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the Pentagon's Central Command...
America's federal-motorcade hooker-culture is depraved
A superpower unmatched at everything - except winning
The courage of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the cowardice of Brandeis University
Here are two jokes one can no longer tell on American TV...
From two years ago, here's Mark's first thoughts on the Kermit Gosnell case
He who controls the language shapes the debate: In the same week the Associated Press announced that it would no longer describe illegal immigrants as "illegal immigrants," the star columnist of The New York Times fretted that the Supreme Court seemed to have misplaced the style book on another fashionable minority. "I am worried," wrote Maureen Dowd, "about how the justices can properly debate same-sex marriage when some don't even seem to realize that most Americans use the word 'gay' now instead of 'homosexual'..."
To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, but aldermanic power corrupts all der more manically. Proco "Joe" Moreno is Alderman of the First Ward of Chicago, and last week, in a city with an Aurora-size body count every weekend, his priority was to take the municipal tire-iron to the owners of a chain of fast-food restaurants. "Because of this man's ignorance," said Alderman Moreno, "I will now be denying Chick-fil-A's permit to open a restaurant in the First Ward." "This man's ignorance"? You mean, of the City of Chicago permit process? Zoning regulations? Health and safety ordinances? No, Alderman Moreno means "this man's ignorance" of the approved position on same-sex marriage.
Media types like to talk about "the narrative": News is just another form of storytelling, and certain plot lines grab you more than others. The easiest narrative of all is anything involving young people. "I believe that children are our future," as the late Whitney Houston once asserted. And, even if Whitney hadn't believed it, it would still, as a point of fact, be true. Any media narrative involving young people presupposes that they are the forces of progress, wresting the world from the grasping clutches of mean, vengeful old men and making it a better place...
Unlike the government of the United States, I can't claim any hands-on experience with Colombian hookers. But I was impressed by the rates charged by Miss Dania Suarez, and even more impressed by the U.S. Secret Service's response to them...
(VIDEO) "'Celebrate diversity' â€” the great bumper sticker â€” actually means 'celebrate stultifying homogeneity,'" Canadian best-selling author and columnist Mark Steyn told The Daily Caller. In an exclusive interview this week with TheDC's Ginni Thomas, Steyn railed against liberal "diversity"-speak and the lack of tolerance for traditional values...
Our lesson for today comes from George and Ira Gershwin: "They all laughed at Christopher Columbus When he said the world was round They all laughed when Edison recorded sound They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother When they said that man could fly They told Marconi wireless was a phony..." Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sang it in the film "Shall We Dance?" (1937) Seventy-five years on, the president revived it to tap-dance around his rising gas prices and falling approval numbers. Delivering his big speech on energy at Prince George's Community College, he insisted the American economy will be going gangbusters again just as soon as we start running it on algae and windmills. He noted that, as with Wilbur and his brother, there were those inclined to titter...
I'm writing this from Australia, so, if I'm not quite up to speed on recent events in the United States, bear with me – the telegraph updates are a bit slow here in the bush. As I understand it, Sandra Fluke is a young coed who attends Georgetown Law and recently testified before Congress. Oh, wait, no. Update: It wasn't a congressional hearing; the Democrats just got it up to look like one, like summer stock, with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid doing the show right here in the barn and providing a cardboard set for the world premiere of "Miss Fluke Goes To Washington," with full supporting cast led by Chuck Schumer strolling in through the French windows in tennis whites and drawling, "Anyone for bull****?"
Have you seen the official White House version of what the New York Times headline writers call "A Responsible Budget"? My favorite bit is Chart 5-1 on Page 58 of their 500-page appendix on "Analytical Perspectives." This is entitled "Publicly Held Debt Under 2013 Budget Policy Projections." It's a straight line going straight up before disappearing off the top right hand corner of the graph in the year 2084 and continuing northeast straight through your eye socket, out the back of your skull and zooming up to rendezvous with Newt's space colony on the moon circa 2100...
Announcing his support for Commissar Sebelius' edicts on contraception, sterilization, and pharmacological abortion, that noted theologian the Most Reverend Al Sharpton explained: "If we are going to have a separation of church and state, we're going to have a separation of church and state." Thanks for clarifying that. The church model the young American state wished to separate from was that of the British monarch, who remains to this day Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This convenient arrangement dates from the 1534 Act of Supremacy. The title of the law gives you the general upshot, but, just in case you're a bit slow on the uptake, the text proclaims "the King's Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England." That's to say, the sovereign is "the only supreme head on earth of the Church" and he shall enjoy "all honors, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities to the said dignity," not to mention His Majesty "shall have full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, record, order, correct, restrain and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts and enormities, whatsoever they be." Welcome to Obamacare.
This has less to do with any utilitarian benefit a condomless janitor at a Catholic school might derive from Obamacare, and more to do with the liberal muscle of Big Tolerance enforcing one-size-fits-all diversity. The bigger the Big Government, the smaller everything else...
For our Dutch readers...
VIDEO: Italy's Costa Concordia disaster has Mark Steyn mulling the "women and children first!" idea with Michael Coren on The Arena.
Abe Greenwald of Commentary magazine tweets: "Is there any chance that Mark Steyn won't use the Italian captain fleeing the sinking ship as the lead metaphor in a column on EU collapse?" Oh, dear. You've got to get up early in the morning to beat me to civilizational-collapse metaphors. Been there, done that.
When Christians take the Christ out of Christmas
Christmas in America is a season of time-honored traditions â€“ the sacred performance of the annual ACLU lawsuit over the presence of an insufficiently secular "holiday" tree; the ritual provocations of the atheist displays licensed by pitifully appeasing municipalities to sit between the menorah and the giant Frosty the Snowman; the familiar strains of every hack columnist's "war on Christmas" column rolling off the keyboard as easily as Richard Clayderman playing "Winter Wonderland"... This ...
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