Just last night we were watching ER, of all things, when suddenly, quite early on in the episode we were watching, Dr. Romano grabs Dr. Chen’s ass with his prosthetic hand. Now I know that the blog of late has not really been delivering a blow by blow account of our progress through the series, so that sentence may contain more than one surprise for the dedicated reader. Romano has a prosthetic hand? How? Why? What happened to his old hand? Well, with time and patience, we may get to these mysteries but the question that is today at hand, as it were, is more prosaic but also more timely.
Chen’s reaction to the grab—more of a prod or a poke really—was to straighten up and throw her shoulders back. She didn’t jump or cry out. Her lips came together firmly and her mien was decidedly stern as she swiveled her head and looked down her nose at the diminutive doctor. Chen has never been my favorite character. She does not inspire confidence as a doctor and I find her professed sexual appetite unconvincing. But these days, whenever I see her, she puts me in mind of someone else, someone I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on—a friend of my mom’s? A professor I had? An ex-client?—and as a result I’ve softened toward Chen, granting her the privilege of her faults.
And then last night, as I saw her reaction to the ass-grab, I realized who it is she reminds me of: none other than Hilary Clinton. A woman in a man’s world, smart as hell, ambitious, beautiful if a bit cold, competitive, calculating, somehow superior without actually being particularly competent, hard-working and entitled, angry at the stereotypes that are thrown onto her, judgmental of others, and, ultimately, just kinda lame—this could describe either woman, though, when all’s said and done, I’d still rather have Dr. Chen in charge of my health care.
For one thing, she knows when to call it. You won’t see Jing-Mei Chen flogging a corpse that is dead beyond redemption. She will take all reasonable measures, she will even reach for heroic measures, but when the time comes she will snap off the gloves and pronounce the time of death. Then she will walk out through those double doors and deliver the news to waiting family, and she will do it with a fair measure of compassion. We’ve seen her do it time and again.
And it’s time for Hilary to follow suit.
Not that it matters but I have been a Hilary supporter for sometime now—well, ever since John Edwards dropped out right up until recently when two things happened in rapid succession. First, all the Jeremiah Wright stuff bubbled up and Hillary didn’t have the nerve to step forward and say what she surely must believe: that the preaching of the one man is no reason—no reason at all—to condemn the politics of the other man. I mean, this is a woman who has dined with dictators and taken killer’s wives on the rose garden tour while—she’s a woman who knows what’s what, in other words, and ought to have been able to say, “Forget about Mr. Wright. Let’s talk about Obama and me.”
What I wish she’d said: “We’ve got two great Democratic candidates in this race. I believe that American would be well served with Mr. Obama in the White House. But I believe that I will do a better job and that I am a better choice for the following reasons. . .”
Then she would have to come up with a reason better than the gas tax holiday, which is a holiday I won’t be celebrating any time soon because it is, well, at the risk of sounding critical, a very small, dumb idea that amounts to nothing at a time when a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America really needs to be offering something.
My major complaint with Obama, in fact, now that we’re on the subject—the thing that has kept me from jumping on the big, happy, young and hip bandwagon—is the vaporous nature of what he has to offer. A vote for Obama is a vote for hope. That’s like a vote for wish or a vote for maybe. Maybe if he gets elected things will change somehow. I hope they will change in a good way.
If that’s a platform, the planks seem pretty thin, but these days I’m thinking I’ll take my chances and hope they hold out.
I remember, eight years ago, being disgusted by the choice that faced us. “The senator’s son and the president’s son? Is this really the best the country has to offer?” Wow, does that seem naïve in retrospect. Eight years has taught me a lot. For one thing, who ever thought that the best the country has to offer—the smartest, most thoughtful, kindest, hardest working, most inventive, most inspiring people—would run for president. You’ve got to consider context. I work in advertising and I can assure you, you won’t find any monks or divine prophets wandering the halls of even the finest agency. It’s just not the right place to look. Likewise, you’re not going to find true greatness on the campaign trail. The stuff it takes to do the one thing kills the stuff it takes to be the other.
That’s how it seems to me anyway and it helps limit the disappointment. Barack Obama seems like a better choice than we’ve had in a while and, who knows, he might be the kind of man who reveals an ambitious agenda once he’s in office. I’m willing to hope for that.
In the meantime, here’s what I think Hillary needs to say now:
“These last eight years have been something of a national nightmare. Never has a country been so prosperous and so powerful. Never has that prosperity been so squandered. Never has that power been so misused. 9/11 was our national tragedy, but it was also our challenge and our opportunity. We could’ve lead the world. We could’ve risen above the hate and built connections around the globe. Instead look where we are—isolated, at war, without a plan for the very real dangers that are around us. Without a national goal, our principles in tatters. That’s why I decided to run for president. To lead the country back to the things that have always made us great. And that is why, today, I am throwing my support behind Barack Obama. I believe he can lead this country forward and, as of today, I will work as hard for him as I have worked for my own candidacy. In life, no matter what you lose, you always have your hopes and dreams. I have dreamed of being your president. But today I realize that my hopes for myself are nothing compared to my hopes for this country. If you support me, if you believe in me, then join me in this quest. We set out to bring dignity, principle and leadership back to the White House. And that is exactly what we will do when we elect Barack Obama as our president.”
She won’t do it. But it’s nice to hope.