In the wake of a cataclysmic loss to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has remained a central figure in the Resistance era of American electoral politics. Even now, one year into Trump’s presidency, the ringing anthem of his Democratic critics has been “Still With Her”.
It’s then no surprise to learn that Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened – a personal recollection, documenting her experience as the first female presidential candidate nominated by a major US political party – has been devoured by her fans, making it one of Amazon’s best sellers of 2017.
Hillary Clinton during the presidential debate with Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Sept. 26, 2016.
Hillary Clinton’s book tour is now scheduled to make waves here in Australia in May, and for a whopping $195 you’ll be able to have “an evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton” in balcony seating, and this, mind you, doesn’t include a copy of her book. For that you’ll have to fork over $495 for a VIP ticket that comes with access to a pre-show party.
Before the general election, polling conducted by the Lowy Institute revealed that Donald Trump was an unfavourable candidate among Australians, with just 11 per cent preferring him over Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States.
On the other hand “84 per cent [of Australians] thought Clinton would do a better job than Trump of handling US foreign policy.”
The Growth Faculty, which is facilitating her speaking engagements in both Australia and New Zealand, has an abbreviated profile on Secretary Clinton, boasting of her critical role in imposing “crippling sanctions on Iran” – sanctions which have impacted access to pharmaceutical products, medical equipment, spurred rising food costs, and plane crashes, as those economic sanctions prevented Iran from purchasing necessary parts for ageing fleets.
In Honduras, while acting as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton helped facilitate a violent chapter in Honduran history, mired by catastrophic violence, including the targeting of local activists. In 2016, Bertha Oliva, who in 1981 founded the Committee for the Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras, was quoted by The Intercept as saying “Now, it’s like going back to the past. We know there are death squads in Honduras.”
Despite this chilling reality, Clinton’s biography is glamourised, and in a follow-up sentence from this over-inflated sales pitch, Clinton is referred to as a defender of “universal values [who has] pushed the frontiers of human rights.” Yes, for a meagre $195 you too can sit in the nosebleeds, and have an unashamedly hawkish former US politician explain how she managed to lose to an enthusiastically bigoted and misogynist reality television star.
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The allure of Hillary Clinton, and what made her campaign so moving for countless women across the US, was the possibility of watching her break the glass ceiling. Far from subtle, Clinton’s election night venue was even held under an enormous glass ceiling at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre in Manhattan.
Despite the best marketing efforts, no metaphorical ceiling was broken, and as a result Clinton’s loss was devastating, especially to women who had invested so much of their political identities in a foreseen election landslide in her favour.
Hillary Clinton, who is undoubtedly the most prominent icon of imperial feminism in recent history, will touch down in Australia to a throng of enthusiastic women who refuse to acknowledge the victims of her foreign and domestic policies, many of whom are of the same gender.
What Australians find particularly mesmerising about Hillary Clinton is arguable, though it’s certainly a mix of politics and personal taste. But beyond the glow of bureaucratic celebrity it’s quite plain to see that Clinton’s offerings, especially when it comes to post-Trump insights, are few and far between.
Her profitable book tours are often marketed as providing audience members with seductive, insider secrets from an insular domain that’s closed off to much of the world, but there’s nothing that can be gleaned from an hour with Hillary Clinton in a Sydney arena that one can’t find in her policies.
In What Happened readers were left with her misery and self-righteous indignation – there is little reflection in the way of parsing her own failures; her fragility and emotional candour are characterised by her persistent supporters as revealing her humanity instead of self-pitying blame shifting.
For Australians still interested in learning more about Clinton’s campaign mishaps, they’re better off visiting a local library, or spending a little more than $35 on a copy of What Happened, instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a sub-par TED talk in order to possibly hobnob with Clinton. Salesman Elmer Wheeler coined the saying that “you don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle”, but in the case of Hillary Clinton’s Australia tour you’re getting little steak and a lot less sizzle.