I'm watching Hillary Clinton doing her town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa. A man -- Representative Leonard Boswell -- is introducing her. He ends by waving his arm around and saying: "We wish you every success." Not a peep out of the audience. He goes on: "Let the conversation begin!" Still nothing! He adds "God bless ya... we're glad to have you here" and, finally, elicits a cheer.
"Thank you all," she yells in that harsh tone her voice gets when she's going for volume. "Well," she says, now properly modulated and holding her hands out, palms up. "I'm Hillary Clinton." She leans forward and laughs, like it's a big joke that she actually is Hillary Clinton. The crowd laughs, either because they get the "joke" or they actually are jazzed up at the experience of witnessing the grand personage in the flesh.
"I'm running for President, and I'm in it to win it." Has she been going around saying "I'm in it to win it"? This sounds clever for half a second, and then you get distracted thinking about what other possible reasons might lead a person to run for President. And then I find myself in a pit of irrelevance musing about the mind of Dennis Kucinich...
She has some material about how ordinary people aren't making enough money these days, unlike rich people, who make too much money. Democrats are required to say this. To me, it sounds like patronizing the audience. You folks are the good, deserving people. Elsewhere, there are bad people taking way more than their share.
Next, she talks about how a woman can be President. Americans are "good at breaking barriers, and I wanna see us get back to doin' that." Droppin' those gs is really gettin' to me. Kerry did that too, didn't he?
"We need strong leadership and smart solutions to deal with our problems."
Okay, enough generalizations. It's time for the town hall questions... the conversation...
The first question is about whether a woman can be President. Clinton's response sounds natural and decent enough, and I'm thoroughly bored with this issue now. Of course, a woman can be President, but we shouldn't elect her President just to prove the point. She's a specific person, now get on with it.
The second question comes from a doctor who wants to know what she's going to do about obesity and diabetes in the United States. I pause the TiVo and the expression on her face seems to show exasperation at having to respond to this sort of thing. I unpause and see the gears click into place: It's time for Universal Health Care tape loop. The system is screwed up because it's easier to get insurers to pay if you need to have your foot amputated than if you'd like to visit a nutritionist.
There's a question about education from a teacher, who informs us that her job requires her to deal with "raging pubescent hormonal individuals" -- 8th graders -- and the hard thing is she's going through menopause. She says this in a stand-up comedian style, and I get the feeling that she thinks Hillary is going to offer her some special menopausal camaraderie. Hillary does not. Bill may have told us about his underpants, but Hillary isn't going to let us in on the extent of her need for Tampax.
The next woman complains about how "women's work" -- she does air quotes -- is underpaid. "How do we change the culture" to value this work? The obvious answer is: not through the presidency. Hillary talks at length about women's work, the culture, etc.
How I'd have loved to hear something like: You know, what's ironic here is that I'm a woman, and you're undervaluing me, asking me questions about women's things, and not treating me like someone who is offering to take on the work that genuinely belongs to the office I'm seeking. How is a woman supposed to become President if all you ever picture her doing is taking on the caregiving responsibilities that have typically belonged to women?
I can't endure the whole event, not in one sitting... but I do vlog about it...
ADDED: Wait, it will take me a minute to get the vlog up. Meanwhile, the show was almost over, and I did watch it to the end. All the questions were on womanly subjects. I predict trouble if HC can't get people to think of her outside the traditional role while she's trying to get hold of a nontraditional role.