Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hillary's Panopticon

"Vote for the top tee shirt design" invites the Hillary Clinton website. And one of the five choices really seems to me to capture Ms. Clinton's world view. Hillary, it blazons across a field of dense type listing denizens of the fifty states ("Alabamians, Arizonians..."). We're all a part of her bigger picture.

In its quasi-benevolent -- or should I say omnibenevolent? -- way, this Planet Hillary vision seems as overdetermined as her use of an assassination to illustrate a long campaign season. Hillary's got us all in her sights. She will take care of us all. It's all about her.

At her best, Hillary expresses and doubtless feels what would be called a "paternal" view of government if she were male ("maternal" doesn't really hit it). She has the solutions; we can hand her the ball, and huddle at her feet. As she suggested on February 5, she is Lady Liberty, embodiment of our body politic, speaking for us with a royal 'we':

So today we say with one voice -- give us the child who wants to learn, give us the people in need of work, give us the veterans who need our care. We say give us this economy to rebuild and this war to end. Give us this nation to heal, this world to lead, this moment to seize.

And, as she suggested in a December video, she is Santa, wrapping up our future for us in gifts labeled "universal healthcare," "alternative energy," "bring troops home," "middle class tax breaks" and "universal pre-k" (we're all in her kindergarten class).

We're all a part of her bigger picture feels creepier than those earlier top-down images of governance. Why? Because "all" by this point would seem to refer primarily to "hard working Americans, white Americans"? Because her "picture" of this campaign's metrics and ethics seem so radically at variance with that of the larger reality-based community?

Or is it because the "bigger picture" of anyone so desperately willing to say and do anything to get elected evokes something like Total Information Awareness, the Bush Administration's program to integrate reams of data about each of us and put it at the government's fingertips?

Please, Hillary -- stop staring at us.

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