« Malvolio Production Diary: learning the lines | Main | Malvolio Production Diary: seven scenes »

Funny, innit?

Without wanting to get into the details of Hillary Clinton’s security scandal (short form: nothing criminal, and what we have learned about her character and her penchant for secrecy and coverup is not new, and if that is her greatest flaw, it’s certainly troubling but not, imao, disqualifying against her other assets) I feel moved to respond to what seems to be a large number of people saying if an ordinary Joe did what she did, he’d be in jail. Maybe that’s just my internet, but it seems to me that this response is striking a chord with a lot of people.

And on the face of it, Your Humble Blogger finds that sentiment hilarious. There is no such thing as an ordinary person in that position. No ordinary Joe has to decide what to do about the tremendous paper trail of classified, classifiable, potentially classifiable and “secret” information coming to him every day. Furthermore, any ordinary Joe who served as Secretary of State would in fact get all kinds of privileges and benefits, and yes, Joe’s infractions of his own policies would be treated with tremendous leniency. Surprise! Privilege exists! And people in the Cabinet are treated differently than people who are, you know, not.

The less hilarious part is the strength of the outrage. I don’t think the various threads of it can be disentangled—there is on the one hand a largely positive element of democratic egalitarianism, certainly, but on the other a kind of delusional expectation that somewhere in the nation are potential leaders for whom voters would not have to hold their noses. There’s misogyny in it, too, along with some good-government idealism and some ignorance and some partisan polarization and some reasonably high standards and some self-interested hype and some healthy skepticism and some mistrust and some other stuff, too. Some of it is applying observations about a seriously broken criminal justice system that does very real damage to the lives of the underclass (mostly) to an unusual situation that doesn’t really relate to the general problem. Some of it is applying observations about a seriously skewed capitalist economy that concentrates wealth (and therefore power) into fewer and fewer hands to a situation that doesn’t have much to do with that at all.

As we have been seeing, there is a sizable chunk of the country (and I think of all the countries in the seemingly senescent West) that is in a state of outrage about an unjust, unauthorized and unaccountable elite. It’s not a single political point of view. I’m putting together people who see that elite as a libertine and cosmopolitan culture of decadence and the people who see the elite as a gated community of CxOs and banksters. My point (at the moment) isn’t whether those people have correctly identified the oppressors, or if there are actual oppressors at all, or whether Hillary Clinton is or is not on the side of the oppressors or the oppressed. Those are all good things to think and talk about, but that’s not my point at the moment. My point, really, is just that this instance of a risible reaction to the FBI’s assessment that prosecuting the former Secretary of State would be very unlikely to result in a conviction in court—the sense that this was a break that Hillary Clinton was getting that would not be available to an ordinary working-class former Cabinet Member—is yet another symptom of society that feels… I was going to write on the brink but that seems at the moment unduly optimistic. Over the brink, and falling.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

Among the threads of the outrage should be mentioned the relentless and baseless efforts to create an impression of wrong-doing by the Republican Party and right-wing media outlets. (I was subjected to about an hour of this stuff during two stints at McDonald's while traveling over Independence Day weekend--apparently, if you watch Fox News, you would receive the impression that nothing else of great importance is happening right now and that Clinton's e-mails and the failure of the FBI to indict her is one of the most nefarious political crimes ever perpetrated on our country.) If our society is on the brink, that is mainly because the right-wing minority prefers attempting to destroy or neuter democracy and Constitutional government to losing their hold on power. As better information about the laughable vacuity of the accusations against Secretary Clinton gradually spreads, most of the people who are not the Republican base will drop their outrage and move on.

I don't discount the wider growing outrage you describe or its causes, but I don't believe that, over the long haul of the election campaign, the putative connection between outrage over unaccountable elites and Hillary Clinton's state department e-mails can or will be sustained outside of the Right-Wing Noise Machine.


It's true, I really should not have neglected to mention the Republican-aligned media, or, rather, done more than slide them in with the rest of the 'self-serving hype'. The fires of outrage are deliberately created and stoked, and it's irresponsible of me to not say who is doing it.

At the same time, I am seeing a good deal of outrage on the 'left' of My Party (I put left in scare quotes because I don't really think that tribe is further left than I am in terms of preferred policy but differs in methods and traditions and whatnot) as well, from people who (I think) are as insulated from Fox News and talk radio as I am. The memes contrasting (f'r'ex) the treatment of Snowden and Clinton don't come from the Right. Now, of course, we're all swimming in the water the Right is polluting, I don't mean to say they lack responsibility there, but it seems to me that this particular outrage is more widespread among my acquaintance circle than I would have expected.

Thanks,
-V.


Quite possibly there is more outrage on the 'left' than would be expected. I haven't personally witnessed any, but i live under a rock with respect to hearing personally about politics from individual people, whether Left, Right, or Center. The Snowden Contrast Meme, for example, is new to me, and certainly seems, from where I stand, to be an invalid comparison. That doesn't mean Snowden has been treated appropriately or fairly, but the circumstances of his deliberate release of concealed information and concealed information-gathering programs and Clinton's routine use of e-mail to conduct the business of her office are so vastly different that there is no relevance of the one to the other, except, perhaps, to say that Snowden was treated by the Intelligence Establishment the way that the Political Right would have liked to treat Clinton, if they had been empowered to do so by under any color of law.

How much of the expressed outrage on the 'left' do you think is attributable to the raw feelings remaining from a hotly contested primary?


A good question. I know that there were some amongst the supporters of Bernie Sanders who expected (or claimed to expect) an indictment and the candidate's subsequent withdrawal. Those people are bitter now. I doubt they are terribly numerous, but perhaps they have sufficient internet influence to get a few memes passed around.

Thanks,
-V.


Comments are closed for this entry. Usually if I close comments for an entry it's because that entry gets a disproportionate amount of spam. If you want to contact me about this entry, feel free to send me email.