Saturday,16 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1307, (11- 17 August 2016)
Saturday,16 December, 2017
Issue 1307, (11- 17 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Clinton’s cloven hoof?

The US and international media have been painting a relentlessly bleak picture of the two leading 2016 American presidential elections candidates, writes Gamal Nkrumah

Al-Ahram Weekly

Economic concerns are what count in the 2016 US presidential elections. Yet, while Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton has been solidifying her backing among party regulars, Republican Party candidate Donald Trump has not been able to consolidate support from steadfast Republicans. Trump trailed Clinton by double digits in a Monmouth University poll released on Monday.

Trump’s campaign Website lists six policy positions, only one of which deals with the economy. Clinton in sharp contrast has a page on her Website dedicated to the economy and the creation of jobs. Whether she will in fact enact a tax surcharge on multi-millionaires, as she has pledged in her campaign, remains questionable.

“I try and pay as little tax as possible and what they do with my tax money,” Trump touted hus tax cut agenda.

Social media has been unkind to Clinton and hostile to Trump. “The number of Google results when I typed in ‘Donald Trump’ was 228 million. I got 145 million when I did the same for ‘Hillary Clinton,’” said William Arruda, founder of Reach Personal Branding in the US and a best-selling author according to the US business magazine Forbes.

“The truth is that sometimes it is hard even for me to recognise the Hillary Clinton that other people see,” Clinton herself has said.

“I released 34 years of tax returns and 300,000 e-mails in my government record. To get the information from Hillary Clinton, you need to get a subpoena from the FBI,” Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, son of former president George Bush and brother to former president George W. Bush, has commented.

On Monday, Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer, announced that he would be running as a presidential candidate as a conservative alternative to Trump. “With the stakes so high for our nation and at this late stage in the process, I can no longer stand on the sidelines,” McMullin declared in a statement.

“Hillary Clinton is a corrupt career politician who has recklessly handled classified information in an attempt to avoid accountability and put American lives at risk including those of my former colleagues,” he added. “She fails the basic tests of judgment and ethics any candidate for president must meet.”

McMullin is not Clinton’s only critic. Others accuse her of being a “professional liar,” with former Republican Party presidential candidate Ted Cruz saying that “Hillary Clinton embodies the corruption of Washington.”

The politically influential columnist, political commentator and radio talk show host Benjamin Shapiro has had harsh words for Clinton. “Hillary Clinton is not that fascinating a person. According to those who have spent time with her, she’s harsh and demanding. According to those who haven’t, like her husband, she’s a delight,” Shapiro said.

McMullin did not have kind words to say about Trump either, however. “Republicans are deeply divided by a man who is perilously close to gaining the most powerful position in the world, and many rightly see him as a real threat to our republic,” he said.

The plethora of verbal bombardment of both Clinton and Trump is cause for concern. America is the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nation, and American politics deeply impact the rest of the world even if foreign policy per se rarely tops the agenda at presidential elections.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one foreign policy issue that is ripping the Democratic Party apart. Clinton herself has stated that she is against the TPP, but it is favoured by her running mate Tim Kaine. Trump has dismissed the TPP as a means for China to advance its economic interests, even though the People’s Republic is not a member of the 12 nations that have signed the TPP trade agreement.

“The TPP would lower tariffs on foreign cars while leaving in place the foreign practices that keep American cars from being sold overseas. That’s not all. Mark my words, China will enter the TPP through the back door at a later date,” Trump warned in a typical harangue.

It is not only conservatives who are critical of Clinton’s presidential campaign and policies. “Why over her political career has Wall Street been a major, the major, campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? You know, maybe they’re dumb and they don’t know what they’re going to get, but I don’t think so,” former Democratic Party candidate Bernie Sanders noted.

When Clinton refused to participate in the sixth and last Democratic Party debate scheduled for May in California, Sanders lashed out by saying “I am disappointed but not surprised by Secretary Clinton’s unwillingness to debate before the largest and most important primary in the presidential nominating process.”

Sanders, who announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in April but later withdrew, formally endorsed Clinton against her Republican opponent in July. Clinton also has admirers. “I like Hillary Clinton a lot. I know her,” said Chilean-American author Isabel Allende recently.

Trump, too, has innumerable detractors. “It is freezing and snowing in New York, we need global warming,” Trump has typically gabbled. He is seen by some in his own party as an impetuous trouble-maker. Yet, he has a following among a certain class of Americans sometimes dismissed as “rednecks”.

The views of foreigners rarely matter in American politics, and yet some note is being taken of those of politicians from nations regarded as close allies of America. “She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital,” Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said of Clinton.

The question is why Clinton has come under such a deluge of verbal assaults. It is understandable that Trump has come under fire, given his controversial statements and uncouth personality. But Clinton is supposed to be more sophisticated.

“There is something disquieting and secretively lascivious about her open-mouthed cackle. She does not so much laugh as lusts,” Luciana Bohne, co-founder of Film Criticism, a US journal of cinema studies, said. According to Bohne, Clinton’s ancient Roman analogue could be Agrippina, the emperor Nero’s murderous mother.

Bohne’s impression of Clinton is akin to how British author P G Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster felt about his Aunt Agatha – “the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth.”

Is it a question of facade? We are contemplating the political fortunes of a woman who could end up as the first female president of the United States. Bertie Wooster’s advice about aunts springs to mind. “It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof,” he said.

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