Mark Steel: A few tears won't make Hillary more electable

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The Independent Online

What a magnificent speech by Hillary Clinton, where she broke down in tears and spluttered, "Lots of people think elections are about who's up and who's down, but this is very personal for me. I've had such opportunities from this country."

At first glance it makes so little sense I thought if you chucked in a perpendicular and a polyunsaturate it could be one of Neil Kinnock's. But when you look again it's the scream of an articulate four-year-old. She's saying "Let ME be President because I WANT to. LET me LET me it's not FAIR." Maybe there's a bit they didn't show, where she said "And furthermore I say to Mr. Obama 'Hnnnng, yaaaaaaa go AWAY," and tips up a camera, and then Bill arrives to say "Now stop this at ONCE or you can't even be senator, do you understand?"

Most people seem to think this was a deliberate act, to win popularity by appearing human and vulnerable. Maybe at her next press conference she'll come on with a puppy. And her speech will be "This is Rosie." Then, fighting back tears she'll say "And this afternoon she's got to be put down. God bless America." And then the hall will fill up with balloons. Then, during a televised debate she'll respond to a question about energy policy with a botched suicide attempt.

But there may be other reasons why her campaign's slipped, which is she claims to be the best candidate to bring about "Change" from the days of Bush, but she's supported almost everything he's done, including the invasion of Iraq. Now she says she'll "Bring the troops home" so presumably her statement will be "When the war was popular I supported it. Then when it was unpopular I opposed it. So I am the only candidate who's consistently voted with the American people."

She supported the bombing of Lebanon, and her only criticism of Bush while he was planning to bomb Iran was that he "downplayed their threats". She also urged him to categorise the entire Iranian army as a "terrorist organisation". So she must be the only person in the world who thinks "We need a change because Bush hasn't bombed enough places or called enough people terrorists."

If she ends up getting the Democrat nomination, she and the Republicans could get in a fascinating battle to see who can call most people terrorists. The CNN debate will involve the two of them stood there all evening taking turns to shout "Cubans" "Syrians" "Anyone who supports Chavez", until they get to Eskimos and the disabled.

This may be why, of all the candidates for either party, Hillary has received more donations from arms companies than any other. Because at last she might bring the change that's needed, and be a president prepared to take care of the impoverished arms companies. The Bush era has been lean hungry years for those poor souls. It's been their version of the dustbowl, weapons manufacturers forced to traipse across Oklahoma begging for someone to buy their withered laser-guided Tomahawk missiles so they can feed their children for another night.

But Hillary's prepared for change. Which is why the person she's suggested would be her Secretary for State is Richard Holbrooke, who first came to prominence when he helped organise the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. So the only change would be the return of people who fronted atrocities 20 years ago. It would be like if someone took over the BBC with the slogan "It's time for change" and brought back Noel's House Party.

Hillary's other slogan involves her "experience", proving she'd be "ready from day one". But her main experience as "First Lady" involved her plan to provide health care. After eight years in the job there was no plan, because the health companies objected it would dent their profits, and less people had health care than before. So by that logic Steve McLaren should ring the FA and demand his old job back, complaining, "This new manager can't be trusted, as unlike me he's not got any experiencing of buggering everything up."

There's a myth about the Clintons' rule, shaped by the times that followed them, that it was a period of peace and friendship, with occasional fun in the Oval Office. But the Clintons were crucial figures in shaping the idea that big business was not only the best way to run the world, it was the only way. Under their rule, the poor became poorer while the rich became super-rich.

Possibly the greatest hope for America lies not with Hillary, or Obama, but from the opposition to the war in Iraq, without which it's possible they'd have already bombed Iran, as suggested by Hillary.

And if her tearful act does rescue her campaign, Gordon Brown might try a similar tactic. In which case he'll splutter, "Lots of people think, ahem, economies are about (sniff) what's up and down, (pause) but (sniff) this is a deeply felt re-evaluation of fiscal indicators tending towards declining global growth requiring sustainable prudence within a homogenised market, and that's deeply personal for me (howl, splutter, sniff)."

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