Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Hillary Clinton is a Cyborg Meme

An article appearing today, after Obama has officially secured his place as Democratic nominee for President of the US, has me thinking about figures of speech and how strongly evocative representations lifted from cyber-literature (fiction, film) can be.

NewsBiscuit: ‘Future cyborg Clinton’ warns voters they must still choose her: "The Democrat presidential nomination contest was once again mired in controversy and confusion today as a battle scarred cyborg Hillary Clinton from the year 2039 apparently travelled back in time to warn voters and super delegates that a victory for Obama creates a hellish future ruled by meta-droids intent on enslaving humanity.

"The cyborg Clinton, her left infra-red optical device growing weak, stressed that her past self’s rival was at no fault for the apocalyptic hell that awaits mankind, but that a string of events unravels all connected to Obama’s successful campaign to lead the party into the White House. ‘So you see you really must choose Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee while there is still time…’ she urged, as a piece of what looked like baking foil came away from her arm. ‘I am… I mean… She is the best candidate – select Hillary or have your brains sucked out as food for the droids.’"

I've noticed the image of politician-as-cyborg here and there in the past, but the article today from NewsBiscuit made me realize that Clinton is one of the most frequent recipients of this particularly unkind characterization. It's true that a lot of what we see on television seems to corroborate an image of her as hard, aggressive, non-empathetic, often lacking in what might seem to be human tenderness or passion. Of course we don't get to see her as a normal human with normal emotions when she's acting the role of the leader, and also shown mostly in carefully edited footage (but that's what made her a winner, too--a "masculine" strength of spirit and character that made her seem, perhaps, too tough and ambitious--thus the almost tears on the campaign trail were eminently newsworthy). The Clinton-cyborg meme deserves a little study in light of gender politics, I think. We've seen John Kerry looking like a rather bland and benign Tin Man on quest for a heart, but that seems more silly than cutting. Even the Daily Tube video Barack Obama is a Cyborg From the Future Sent to Destroy Us All is a spin on the Clinton-as-cyborg vilification.

Just a few examples from a quick search:

National Review online (May 7 2008): "Senator Clinton, Cyborg. Terminator IV," by Kathleen Parker:
All politicians adapt and mold themselves to fit their audience, but Hillary Clinton has elevated the art of identity politics to a science of morphology.

She doesn’t just show people what they want in order to convince them that she’s their “man” — and we no longer use that word entirely metaphorically. She becomes the people she wants to sway.

Which prompts the question: Is she human or is she ... cyborg?

In James Cameron’s Terminator II: Judgment Day, the T-1000 android was made of liquid metal and could duplicate others. He “learned” a person by touching him and absorbing his data.

Hillary’s life as a political spouse and candidate has been a kaleidoscope of shape-shifting and morphed identity. In the past 15 years, Americans have witnessed her transformation from a more feminine first lady to lately becoming a manly whiskey slugger with “testicular fortitude,” as an Indiana labor leader recently described her.
A few more examples of her manliness follow, and conclude with:
Clinton has successfully established herself as the man in charge while the lithe and willowy Obama seems too elegant for the trenches. But even cyborgs are imperfect.

The T-1000 could duplicate appearances and voices, but he couldn’t capture the soul of the human being. Eventually, people realized something wasn’t quite right.
Against Hillary Clinton (May 7, 2008) also ran this article, under the title "Hillary Clinton: Human or Cyborg?".

Real Clear Politics ran it under the title Hillary Clinton: Terminator IV. (May 5, 2008), puts a humorous spin in a positive take on the image: "Hillary Clinton Should Have Eviscerated This Interviewer" by Ryan Tate:
In the following clip, Hillary Clinton is asked to choose between celebrities Ellen DeGeneres, Simon Cowell and Jimmy Kimmel as a vice president. "Who would you pick and why?" asked Mary Alice Haney, of and TV channel Extra. The only appropriate response, of course, would be for Clinton to use the lasers behind her cyborg eyes to set Haney's hair on fire, but it's 2008 and the Democratic presidential candidate needs to out-cool Barack Obama and John McCain, so she just laughed (at the sad future of our country) and said they'd all be on her short list. I really wanted her to snap and live up to her reputation as a caustic bitch, but she didn't, not even when asked about inane advice from Cowell.
Predictions from Radar (April 22, 2008): "What Happens if Hillary Wins Big?" by Alex Balk: should Clinton win by a margin of +84 to +99:
HillaryCare immediately imposed by pliant Congress. Americans stripped of their guns and forced to have one abortion per family. Bill Clinton allowed to live out the remainder of his days in Caribbean exile. Exultant Hillary removes synthetic face-covering to show nation her actual cyborg features.
The Washington Post got in on the act (April 25, 2008): "The Race That Wouldn't Die" by Eugene Robinson:
Yes, I know it's inappropriate to compare a talented and accomplished woman such as Hillary Clinton with a homicidal cyborg from the future. But it's hard to come up with a better image for the woman's sheer relentlessness. If she ever says "I'll be back" while I'm within earshot, I'm getting out of Dodge.
Synthesis Blog (March 7, 2008): "Hillary Clinton: Monster Or Cyborg?" by "Some Guy":
I have it on good authority that Hillary Clinton is closely related to the cyborg, specifically Cyberdyne Systems Model 101. And really, the writing is on the wall; manic facial expressions, bulldog front, pitiless emotions and a lust to kill. Combine these traits with her seemingly indestructible nature, and you’ve got yourself a T-800 series Terminator. This of course should come as no surprise, as a T-800 is already the governor of California.

None of this, though, is good news for the Obama camp. It’s not easy fighting off any cyborg, let alone one with a hankering for politics.
David Hauslaib's Jossip (January 8, 2008): "Hillary Clinton: Real Woman Or Political Cyborg?"
So, today is the New Hampshire primary. And yesterday Hillary Clinton almost cried.

And voters have been saying all along that Hillary is just a machine. But machines don’t cry. Or do the really advanced ones do?
What do you think?
Tapped: the group blog of The American Prospect (December 18, 2007): "Lightning Round: Hillary Clinton is Not a Robot from the Future" by Sam Boyd:
The Hillary Clinton campaign is apparently convinced that the big problem for her right now is that people can't imagine playing a game of Yahtzee with her ... or something. The need to "humanize" the candidate is the motivation behind her campaign stops with her mother and other "soft" campaign appeals. I for one, would actually prefer to vote for a pitiless cyborg governing machine but somehow I imagine I'm in the minority. (November 15, 2007): "WH '08: They're After You For A Reason. No... Not That Reason":
Two weeks ago, Clinton's uncomfortable equivocations on drivers licenses for illegal immigrants and on her husband Bill's White House records reminded Democrats of what they like least about her: that she sometimes appears to be a politically savvy cyborg.

A lot of cruelty in these images, especially if one considers her actual record.

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