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Clinton’s Announcement Subtext

A look at the subtext of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy announcement video.

Many electrons have been spent on Hillary Clinton’s candidacy announcement. From “When Will It Happen” pieces to pondering the strange form of the video announcement, her announcement has some scratching their heads. So today I thought I’d write about the real subtext in the video.

You can watch the video if you haven’t seen it: YouTube: Hillary Clinton: “Getting Started”.

The Green Thumb Lady

The video features a lady who grows tomatoes. This lady represents worries over agricultural pollution and GMOs. Hillary wants to strike a super-cool balance for all of us that both eat and want a planet that doesn’t suck.

Kindergarten Daughter

The video features a young person getting ready to start school. The rub is that they have to move to get her into a better school. This is a subtle nod to the immigration process and Hillary’s desire to finally get some real immigration reform.

The Entrepreneurs

The business-minded brothers happen to be Hispanic, which strengthens the previous segment’s nod to immigration. But they’re also starting a business, which is Clinton’s way of telegraphic plans to increase funding in the Small Business Administration, as well as improve lending practice rules for small businesses, to help entrepreneurs get started.

Back-to-Work Mother

She’s got her kids past their vulnerable years, and now wants to go out and make some deals and do non-poopy, non-wipey business. But will the workplace be hostile to her? Clinton wants to make business safe for women, including pay equality and other benefit parity.

The Parents-to-Be

A nice couple with a woman who happens to be pregnant. Clinton is obviously saying that under her administration, she will help new parents by expanding access to daycare, paid sick-leave for parents, and strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Commission so that things like cribs and toys are safe.

The Young Whippersnapper Job Seeker

She’s a go-getter, and under Hillary Clinton, jobs will be abundant, especially for the young. That’s the message here.

The Engaged Gay Men

They pull back from a couple holding hands, and it’s a nice gay couple. The message here is that Clinton will work for LGBT equality not just in marriage, but in anti-discrimination legislation, too.

Fish Child-Actor

A young lad is going to portray a fish in an upcoming musical performance. Here Hillary Clinton is promising that she will work to strengthen the bargaining power of unions, including media industry unions such as the Actor’s Guild of America.

Retiring Lady

As the woman says, retirement means reinvention. Here Clinton is obviously speaking to the Baby Boomers who are continuing to age and retire. She will work to strengthen Medicare, Social Security, retirement planning, elder care, and other services and laws for the aging Boomers.

Home Renovators

They only get a fast nod in this action-packed video, but this is actually the keystone of the entire piece. Clinton will clean house in the government (as well as an actual renovation of the White House), if elected.

The Trash-Eating Dog

The video features a dog that keeps getting into the trash. This dog represents NSA spying. Clinton wants to teach them not to be so voracious in gobbling up every piece of data on every person. The fact that this comes directly after the renovation segment only strengthens the notion she will clean house.

New Career Guy

While his career is new, the company is fifth-generation. Clinton will work to help aging businesses modernize and improve efficiencies through new legislation and tax benefits targeted at investment in new IT and manufacturing/delivery processes.

Woman Running for President

Which brings us to the climax of the piece. Hillary Clinton is running for president. If elected, she will stop running for president for at least a couple years at first, and if re-elected, she will stop running permanently (though she might help others run after that).

Hillary for America

This is the campaign thingy that they are using. They could have gone with “Hillary and America,” but that would clue people into the fact that they aren’t the same thing. By using for, it becomes natural to think of her as an accessory for the country. Like a rug that ties the whole room together, or that sort of thing.

And the fine print at the end reads, “Paid for by Hillary for America,” as though she bought America a video. Very clever.

That’s it. Although it seemed like Clinton was just throwing out a bunch of random non-political Americany type things, there was a lot of subtext about policy going on. The one issue that wasn’t mentioned was foreign policy. No nod to the commander-in-chief role she is also seeking.

That’s by design, too. Peace, that’s what that says. Sure, we’ll still have a military, but we won’t need to use it so much with Hillary Clinton at its head. Peace! Think of it! All the streets without tanks, the airs without drones, and so on.

I hope you enjoyed my deconstruction of “Getting Started.” If you have any deconstructions to add, feel free to comment.

May the Funnest Man Win?

I think the issues in politics are important. But whether they are the most important thing, not when it comes to our collective future, but when it comes to which human is elected, seems debatable.

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the President of the Imperial Galactic Government is:

[A]lways a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it.

Okay, so to avoid conspiratorial lines here, the claim is that in modern history the selected president has been the one which is perceived by the electorate as more fun.

That is, toe-to-toe, the one that seemed not smarter, kinder, fiercer, or any other factor could win. They had to be more fun. And I’m judging this from Eisenhower forward. It’s probably true going back, but modern history is easier for me to get a grasp on.

Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower v. Adlai Stevenson II (1952, 1956)

People were happy to vote Eisenhower, as Stevenson won the nickname, “egghead.” Eisenhower had the slogan, “I like Ike.”

John F. Kennedy v. Richard M. Nixon (1960)

A televised debate made it clear that Kennedy was a hell of a lot more fun than the stodgy Nixon.

Lyndon B. Johnson v. Barry Goldwater (1964)

Goldwater said, in 1961, “[S]ometimes I think this country would be better off if we could just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea.” The problem was, he wasn’t serious. It would have been a massive undertaking, and certainly a lot of fun. Johnson, for his part, one-upped Goldwater. He promised to annihilate little girls with lackluster math skills picking flowers in the famous “Daisy Girl” advertisement (see Wikipedia: File: Commercial-LBJ1964ElectionAdDaisyGirl.ogv) (actually, he offered a choice of either loving each other or annihilation, but it was a really fun choice).

Richard M. Nixon v. Hubert Humphrey (1968), Richard M. Nixon v. George McGovern (1972)

In the years since 1960, Nixon wasn’t able to make himself more fun. But the democrats nominated a couple of duds (in the fun department). In 1968 George Wallace ran, which added to the trouble. He was definitely no fun. But the base perverseness of his campaign made the choice of fun a bit wonky. It was like offering someone a choice between soda, water, and pureed cauliflower with a garnish of pet hamster.

People still choose soda over water, and all the more when they worry that the hamster might have been drinking from the tap.

Plus, Nixon ran a “Law and Order” ticket, which always reminds the electorate of the kids’ game, “cops and robbers.” They’re thinking, “Nixon’s going to give us all squirt guns and bandanas and little tinfoil badges!”

Most of all, the Vietnam war loomed large. Humphrey did not call for an immediate end to the conflict, and so he drew the majority of anti-war protests. That turned people off. Who wants four years of protests? Nobody.

On to 1972. George McGovern spoiled the dreams of the nation when he fired his initial pick for vice president. The poor man had undergone psychological treatment years before. In the ultimate move to continue the stigmatization of mental illness, he was deemed unfit and thrown by the wayside.

But McGovern was also seen as too extreme. People don’t find extreme particularly fun unless things get so bad that they just want something to keep their minds off of everything. While McGovern promised to end the war, and the people wanted the country to get out of there, Nixon was seen as the choice for a more drawn out withdrawal.

One other factor Nixon had going for him was the 1952 “Checkers” speech, in which he blamed a dog for giving him bad advice on managing a political expense reimbursement fund. It stuck in the national psyche, and talking dogs have a lasting value in politics.

Jimmy Carter v. Gerald Ford (1976)

Just in time for the Bicentennial Nixon resigned, and the public was looking forward to a formal impeachment trial. Ford ruined that, by pardoning the disgraced former president. We had in our grasp the greatest domestic spectacle of the 20th century, ruined. That was enough to sour the campaign.

Ronald Reagan v. Jimmy Carter (1980), Ronald Reagan v. Walter Mondale (1984)

An real live actor. Running for president. Carter didn’t stand a chance.

Mondale was seen as too liberal, and he was not a member of the Screen Actors Guild, which Reagan had presided over.

George H.W. Bush v. Michael Dukakis (1988)

Bush had been the director of the CIA. A spook in the White House. Or Dukakis, who let rabid criminals roam free. Interestingly, one of Bush’s ads against Dukakis criticized him for not cleaning up the pollution in Boston Harbor. A republican hitting a democrat for environmental recklessness? How far we have come since those days.

Bill Clinton v. George H.W. Bush (1992), Bill Clinton v. Bob Dole (1996)

It’s Bill Clinton. Both Bush and Dole looked incredibly stiff by comparison. Even today, Clinton is the funnest president anyone can remember.

George W. Bush v. Al Gore (2000), George W. Bush v. John Kerry (2004)

This was nearly the exception to the rule. It took the fun meter of the SCOTUS to bend the American will to fun. Al Gore, for all his virtues, was not nearly as fun as Bush. Bush had that twinkle in his eye of a school-aged miscreant. Someone who might, at any moment, pull down someone’s pants. Legend has it that they had a closet converted into a pantsing room, with mannequins and a full range of bottoms to choose from, just to keep his urge at bay.

Kerry was stiffer than Gore. He may have seemed more presidential than Bush, but the yuk fest was just getting started. It was close. Bush had squandered a great deal of his fun capital in two ill-conceived, expensive wars. But Kerry didn’t bring anything fun to the table. Not even a rubber chicken! It was his race to lose, and he lost.

Barack Obama v. John McCain (2008)

Obama rose quickly, and in 2008 found himself nominated for the top. The war in Iraq was a major issue in the campaign, and a lot of time was spent debating which side would be better suited to handle the nation in the new era. Then the economy went haywire.

But ultimately, I don’t think anyone can make the case that McCain was more fun than Obama.

Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney (2012)

The future isn’t written yet. But this looks to be a repeat of 2008. Can anyone honestly say that Romney is more fun than Obama?

Maybe fun isn’t the only factor in elections, but I honestly believe that, at least since 1952, the winner in each presidential election has been more fun a persona than the loser. There have been close elections. Ones where a bore nearly topped a firecracker. But the shiny ones have prevailed, even when it took the courts to see to it.

I think the issues in politics are important. But whether they are the most important thing, not when it comes to our collective future, but when it comes to which human is elected, seems debatable.