There have been many words used to describe this election season.
Words like "depressing" and "ominous" and "irritating" and "terrifying" and "infuriating" and "apocalyptic," etc. All of these descriptions are quite accurate, even if they tend to understate things a bit.
But there's a particular term, on top of all of these other very appropriate ones, that has been coming to my mind with increasing regularity whenever I read the latest news from the campaign trail. It's the first adjective that popped into my head when I saw this clip of Hillary Clinton at a rally on Monday, unable to begin her speech because she was in the middle of a violent coughing fit. As I watched the awkward footage of this woman wheezing and sputtering for breath on stage, I could only shake my head and mutter one word: pitiful.
It's pitiful. Just pitiful.
Hillary Clinton is many things, most of them bad, but she is nothing if not pitiful. There have been rumors flying around for months surrounding her declining health, and every coughing fit, every image of the candidate needing help to walk up the stairs, every time she falls down, every lengthy break she takes from the trail, every piece of evidence must lead an observant person to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton is not exactly a picture of health and vitality. And all of these concerns seemed to be officially validated late last week when an authority on Hillary Clinton's health came forward to confirm them. That authority being Hillary Clinton herself.
It was revealed on Friday that, while being interviewed by the FBI, Clinton cited brain damage and a blood clotting problem as reasons why she couldn't remember vital details from her time at the State Department. Her health was so bad, she claimed, that she was forced to stay home and illegally conduct government business on her secret private servers. This is a weak -- and yes, pitiful -- excuse, but we can say with relative certainty that she did have these medical issues. And, even if she's embellishing and using them as cover to weasel out of felony charges, it does seem true that her various health crises impeded her ability to operate competently as Secretary of State. This is according to her own testimony, remember.
(Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Her physical frailty is understandable, of course. She's pushing 70 years old. She's an elderly woman. She's less than a decade away from the average age of death for females in the United States. This is about the time when many human beings start to slow down. At this point, or in a few short years, they find that their bodies begin to fail them, their health becomes a constant concern, and they spend more time at the doctor's office than they'd spent, cumulatively, through their first six or seven decades on Earth. It's quite natural, and we'll all go through it if we're fortunate enough to live that long.
So it's not Hillary's physical malfunctions that I call pitiful. She can't be blamed or judged harshly for those, obviously. The pitiful thing is that she -- a sick old lady with a lifetime of scandal and corruption to her name, an unofficial criminal record, a sex predator husband, and a closet full of skeletons and dirty laundry that have been and will continue to be uncovered and aired publicly, at least on the internet if not on CNN -- is still so desperate for control and authority that she cannot give up the pursuit, even if it kills her. We are all witnessing this disgraced and despised woman as she scratches and bites and kicks and crawls through the muck and the mud, coughing and gasping for breath along the way, hoping to drink from the Cup of Absolute Power just one time before she goes.
It's hard to watch, honestly. It's like an episode of Cops where the meth head comes screaming out of her trailer, half naked and half insane, scratching and punching at the police officer who confiscated her drugs. There's nothing funny or entertaining about it. You can't take delight in seeing a woman lose every last shred of whatever dignity she had left. But at least with Cops you can turn it off or change the channel without having to worry that the poor addict from the trailer park will be in charge of the whole country come January.
Indeed, Hillary is just like the trailer park meth head, the only difference is the pantsuit. And that her elixir of choice is power rather than methamphetamine. And, scariest of all, that she may soon get her hands on the purest and most potent drug on the market: the presidency. Putting this power-obsessed junkie in the Oval Office would be like taking that drug addict from Cops and making her CEO of Pfizer. A guaranteed catastrophe, both for her and for everyone else.
Hillary Clinton has more than enough money from her Wall Street speaking gigs to step away from public life and live her final years in peace, comfort, and prosperity. She could run her foundation from the shadows and pick up a few million from foreign dictatorships here and there, and spend the rest of her time doing whatever rich women do when they retire. She could have done the right thing for herself and the country.
She could have escaped the physical toll of the campaign trail, and the shame and embarrassment of being one of the most hated, distrusted, and incompetent presidential candidates in history. She could have avoided the disgrace of potentially losing to Donald Trump, only 8 years after losing the primary to a no-name junior Senator from Illinois. She could have passed the baton to someone else -- anyone else -- and that person would have breezed through the general election and won the White House in a landslide for the godless Democrats (provided Trump is still the nominee in this fanciful alternate universe).
She could have gone to her doctor's appointments, taken care of her health problems without scrutiny from the peanut gallery, and lived in ease and luxury with all of her skeletons buried and her dirty laundry packed away and out of sight. But she chose this path instead. One of shame, disgrace, and intense physical strain.
Because this is all she knows how to do. It's all she has ever lived for. She strives for power because she simply can't conceive of doing anything else, which is reason enough never to give it to her. She chases after the presidency because she has to have it, she can't live without it, she can't face the possibility of never having it. Hillary Clinton refuses to exist in a world that she doesn't control.
She is, in more than one sense, very much like Gollum, only without the cave or the riddles or the alliance with a giant man-eating spider (well, besides Debbie Wasserman Schultz). Indeed, I can imagine Hillary finally sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office for the first time after being sworn in, swiveling slightly in her chair, gliding her hands across the shiny wood, gingerly touching the pen that she will use that afternoon to sign the Executive Orders banning guns and legalizing partial birth abortion across the country, and whispering lustily to herself, "My precious."
It's this image of a power-hungry madwoman who has tried to manipulate and coerce and blackmail and lie her way to the White House that leads many people to describe her in terms more suited to a super villain than a drug addict. Those terms -- "dangerous," "corrupt," "wicked," etc. -- are all fitting, without a doubt. But we can't forget that there is also something quite sad and pitiful, even tragic, about this woman and her lifelong hunt for political domination.
And if she manages to finally seize the throne, it will somehow be even more pitiful than if she loses again and is forced to retreat into obscurity once and for all. Pitiful because she will be reveling in the thing she dedicated her whole life to chasing, only to find that the pain and longing in her soul cannot be satisfied by mere power, and that the stresses and rigors of the job are only hastening the end of the life that she wasted pursuing it. It is sad to think of a person at the end of their life trying desperately to enjoy the hollow rewards of their corruption and sin. Not to go back to this analogy again (sorry, I'm a nerd), but it's like Gollum finally putting on the ring and basking in its power as he plunges into the fires of Mount Doom.
Don't get me wrong. I feel more sorry for my children, who will have to grow up in a country controlled by the likes of Hillary Clinton, than I do for Hillary Clinton herself. But that does not change the fact that she is a sad character. Dangerous, yes. Scary, yes. Corrupt, yes. But pitiful. Just pitiful.
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