Sunday, October 28, 2007
Hillary The Hippie
The GOP Media Meme Manipulation Machine aka The Dirty Tricks Squad is masterful at defining their opponents in the most unflattering light possible. They take a grain of caricature and transmogrify it into a mental shorthand in the minds of the voters. It doesn’t matter how disingenuous the cheap shot, all it has to do is resonate in the mind of the public. Just ask Internet Al the Serial Liar or Jean-Paul Kerry the Flip Flopper. Let me introduce their next work of genius: Hillary the Hippie.
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, recently co-sponsored a rather piddly one million dollar earmark for a museum in upstate New York. This is the type of petty penny-ante pork barrel stuff that a junior senator is supposed to support. Except the museum is in Bethel, New York, the real site of the Woodstock concert, which makes it The Hippie Museum. That piece of routine home district bone-throwing will prove to be a strategic error for the Clinton campaign on par with riding in a tank while wearing an Elmer Fudd helmet or windsurfing off Nantucket Sound in a hundred dollar farmer john. Just check out the first salvo in this McCain commercial:
As Joel Achenbach explains in the Washington Post, the Woodstock connection is mostly incidental. The museum is an ancillary piece of the much larger Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. And by “center for the arts”, they mean an outdoor concert pavilion designed to cash in on the lucrative summer shed tour business. It competes with Saratoga Springs for shows that hit places like Wolf Trap, Nissan Pavilion, and Merriweather Post. Bob Dylan played there this summer. So did Dave Brubeck, Brad Paisley, and the Boston Pops. The concession stand sells ginger and garlic hummus. It’s a place for sipping six dollar Heinekens, not rolling fatties from a nickel bag.
In short, it’s a tourism development project with a gift shop attached. The museum portion is strictly to bring in some daytime gawkers between shows and sell some tchotchkes to aging Baby Boomers who may or may not have been at the original Woodstock, depending on the clarity of their memory and quality of their weed. Check out the online preview if you doubt me.
That this vistors center with a few exhibit halls has been exaggerated into a monument to Free Love and Brown Acid is no accident. By rhetorically turning it into some budget-busting tribute to the counter-culture, the Right Wing Echosphere can confabulate Hillary the Unreformed 60s Activist with Hillary the Free-Spending Liberal into Hillary the Hippie. Just mentioning the Hippie Museum will invoke all the subliminal baggage the eventual Republican nominee needs to paint Clinton as a wild-eyed, drug-crazed, tax-and-spend radical.
Whether that image is true or not doesn’t matter. If it’s a portrait they can make stick, it will become true, and everything she says, does, or promises will be filtered through that perspective. People have tried to pin an image on Hillary before. There has been Hillary the Ashtray Throwing Housewife, Hillary the Health Care Harpy, Hillary the Carpetbagger. While all these previous views appeal to those who already hate Hillary (which is a not insignificant bipartisan percentage of the electorate), they don’t put that cynical spot of doubt in the mind of the fencesitter.
However, Hillary the Hippie could have legs. Unshaven hippie legs turned into pantsuit-wearing politician legs. Expect to be deluged with every Sixties era snapshot of Hillary the Opposition Research teams can unearth. The bigger the glasses and the longer the hair, the better. Once Hillary the Hippie becomes a talk show staple punchline, the swiftboaters can relax and let the mainstream media do the rest of the dirty work. By this time next year, the Halloween stores will be filled with latex Hillary masks bundled with peace symbols, fringe vests, and love beads. Check out my poorly photoshopped mock-up. It’ll be the most terrifying costume of the 2008 election.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Which Hillary do you see?