For folks who don’t spend any time of Facebook, a meme called Texts From Hillary has blown up, making Hillary Clinton popular amongst the Millenial set that resoundingly rejected her in 2008. The Nation has an interesting critical response to this phenomenon:
Yet the lessons the young, newly energized left learned after Obama ceased being a candidate and started being a president still apply: memification carries its own pitfalls. In 2008 it was Obama who had the pose, attitude and sangfroid perfectly suited to the Internet’s vocabulary of symbols, body language and hyperbolic shorthand. Obama was the candidate who was both pilloried and celebrated for being a “celebrity.” Yet after he took office, it was his very beatification during the campaign that seemed foolish. Many who fell for the Hope-Change-Yes-We-Can brand, burnished by poster art and that Will.i.am video, felt that their sincere belief was revealed as overeager projection.
So once we absorb the sheer irony of Hillary being the a Post-Teen Choice Favorite, we should consider whether or not she, were she holding elected office, would be doomed to disappoint her young fans in the same way. After all, as Joe Biden knows, looking good in sunglasses is just one of many criteria for strong leadership.
Even Traister, a Clinton supporter in 2008, noted last August in the New York Times that
“visions…of Obama as an appeasement-happy crypto-Republican and Hillary as a leftist John Wayne who would have whipped those Congressional outlaws into shape — they were all invented…. She was…a senator who…[co-sponsored] legislation with Republicans, who voted to go to war in Iraq, who moved to the center on everything from Israel to violent video games.”
Much of Clinton’s record as secretary of state is admirable, starting with her diplomatic philosophy, as quoted inThe Economist: “In the 21st century, a diplomat is as likely to meet with a tribal elder in a rural village as a counterpart in a foreign ministry, and is as likely to wear cargo pants as a pinstriped suit.” Yet for progressives, Clinton’s aggressive militarism is still a problem. Her presidential campaign received far more money from defense contractors than any other candidate—Democrat or Republican. In both her 2007 and 2009 speeches before the Council on Foreign Relations, she called for a “tough-minded, muscular foreign and defense policy.” Clinton engineered the US intervention in last year’s Libyan conflict, in a move that won her accolades for her celebrated resolve, but set a precedent for aggression justified by humanitarian objectives. Is a fantasy of a take-no-prisoners unilateralism—the sort Obama, for reasons good and bad, hasn’t embraced—the real attraction behind the viral sensation?