More on Celebrity Coverage of Clinton
From the NYTimes article on Hillary Clinton’s “fit of pique”:
As one journalist covering her trip put it: “She is a celebrity. We have a celebrity secretary of state. When you have a celebrity, you get celebrity coverage.”
Well, there’s a deflection of responsibility if I ever saw one. Read: Just cuz we have treated her like a celebrity since day one, it’s not our fault if coverage of her official trip as Secretary of State to Africa focuses on trivial shit like her marriage or her husband’s “overshadowing” diplomatic efforts or even the possibility that she has been “marginalized” by the Obama administration.
I touched on this in the post underneath my cartoon on the so-called “outburst” today, but I feel like elaborating, so indulge me. Inheriting a steaming pile of foreign policy crap, Obama has deployed not only Clinton, but Dennis Ross, Richard Holbrooke and other high-level diplomats with considerable “celebrity” status of their own. We can debate the merits of these deployments; but the main mission is clear: salvage US relations with other powerful regional countries and seek to serve national interests while pursuing multilateral objectives on terrorism, nuclear proliferation, global warming, resource competition and other important issues.
So the main story should be about the success or failure of these efforts, the details of negotiations, the competition among major world players, the effects on the billions of people living in poverty, human rights, war, violence, etc. Not Hillary Clinton’s career. Her marriage. Her psychological state, at least vis-a-vis her role in the Obama White House. Her efforts in Africa deserve attention, debate, scrutiny. It is interesting that the NY Times article cites among the factors contributing to Clinton’s irritability, such as jetlag, the awful use of rape as a war weapon in the Congo in the context of a corrupt, patriarchal ruling class. Then there was this:
Her talk with the students had started out friendly enough, with questions about human rights and the environment. But it got a little edgy when several students pushed her on why Congo, whose first prime minister was ousted with the help of the C.I.A., should now trust the United States. She then became a little prickly.
Uh, Patrice Lamumba was not simply “ousted” — he was fucking murdered. So Clinton is “prickly”? It’s a reasonable question: “You fucked us over in the past, why should be trust you now?” The focus on her celebrity and her temperament allow the corporate press to not only perpetuate stereotypes of women in power as “bitches”; it obscures the history of US and European sponsored violence and resource exploitation that continue to plague Africa. No, we are not all to “blame,” but WOW have US geopolitical and corporate interests played a significant part in disrupting the continent (and, yes, European colonialism, it goes without saying.) It’s one thing to lecture Nigeria on political corruption, but it would be nice to acknowledge the corrupting influence of US and British oil companies — and hey, maybe seek to redress it.