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Hillary in the Lion’s Den

December 20, 2015

[Started this one a while back.]

Under the pressure of the political quotidian I’m dropping behind in drafting pages and episodes of the underlying structure of this novel, and even some of the recent events; but I’ve been working on this page, which I hope to post before the next Dem debate [darn, I didn’t quite make it—but close].

Mainly I’ll tell two stories.

This first tale goes back in our culture a long long ways, into old slavery days:

Brother Rabbit was napping just a bit in the sun. Should have known better. Brother Wolf snuck up and grabbed him! “Hey brother,” said Brother Wolf, “I’ve got you now. You’re as good as devoured. Prepare to meet Old Maker.”   “Now, hold on,” said Brother Rabbit. “That’s okay, as long as you don’t throw me into those briars.” “Say what?” said Brother Wolf. “You wearing ear plugs? I’m about to fry you up and gulp you down.” “Not a problem,” said Brother Rabbit. “Do what you have to do. Just don’t toss me into those briars. I hate briars. I’m allergic or something.” “I’m telling you,” said Brother Wolf, “I’m going to hold you over the fire ‘till your hair is all singed off, and then I’ll crunch your bones!” “I get it,” said Brother Rabbit, “and I’m much obliged. That’d be better than being all torn up by thorns.” “For the last time, little rabbit,” said Brother Wolf, “I’m about to skin you alive, quarter your legs from your body, alive, put all of your parts into the oven, say a prayer for your soul, and chew you up into little pieces.” “I believe you,” said Brother Rabbit, “and that’s mighty kind. I was afraid you would throw me right into that briar patch over there. That would be torturous, for sure.”

Brother Wolf tried to think. Yes he was hungry, and yes he had been trying to catch Brother Rabbit for so long. But he had to maintain his rep. He needed to inflict some pain. That’s what he really wanted to do. He wanted to feel triumphant, fully satisfied. If he ate Brother Rabbit, then in just a little time he’d simply be hungry again. But to watch that rabbit suffer, really suffer, and die, in the middle of all those thorns….

And he took Brother Rabbit by the hind legs, swung him over his head three times, faster and faster, and heaved him up and over, into the middle of that patch of tangled thorns.

Brother Rabbit landed on all fours. As he scurried out of reach, he shouted, “Born and bred in a briar patch! Born and bred in a briar patch!”

One thing that makes me optimistic about a Hillary presidency, me with the imagination of a progressive, is this image that she sustained of herself throughout the interrogation. There were no successful “gotcha” moments. The image is of one who knows quite well what the wolves and the briar patch of modern Republicanism is all about, and she won’t be touched by teeth or thorns.

The second story is the one that she told, early in the 11 hours, of herself (as I’ll re-tell it):

A woman who has lived in DC for eight years as the First Lady, during an embattled presidency, then has been a Senator, and an active aspirant for the presidency, is now serving as Secretary of State.  A revolution and then civil war break out, in Libya.  American involvement is risky and controversial, and when the new government is established, but is being challenged by armed factions, the U S needs a highly experienced and skilled diplomat to serve as a hands-on Ambassador who will take personal risks so that the U S government can have crucial information on which to base decisions.

The Secretary of State recruits a career diplomat and personal friend who she knows is especially capable of this kind of work, and will do whatever it takes.  In keeping with his very effective service, he visits a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi that is not highly secure.  During that night, the report reaches the Secretary of State that the outpost is under armed attack by a dissident faction, that the Ambassador’s life is threatened, and that his whereabouts is not known.  She is further informed that the U S military cannot soon reach the location to rescue him.  She spends the night doing everything that she can do, knowing that it might not be enough; and indeed the Ambassador dies, and so do three other U S personnel.

 She feels, deeply and personally, the loss of an excellent diplomat and a personal friend, whom she sent into harm’s way.

Continuing the story, and elaborating the image, myself:

Seven Congressional investigations find that this woman is without blame for the Ambassador’s death.  Now she is no longer serving as Secretary of State, but she is the leading Democratic candidate for nomination for the Presidency. The Republicans, who still believe that they can use the Ambassador’s death to significantly discredit a strong opponent in the election, convene a “select committee” to accomplish that.

During eleven hours of interrogation, orchestrated to wear her down and then cause her to slip up and give the Republicans something that they can use to significantly discredit her, she never breaks. Democratic members of the committee provide impressive and moving assistance in countering the Republican attacks; and in the last hours, it is the Republicans who exhibit bewilderment, frustration, and disappointment as they face their defeat.

She was like Danielle in the Lion’s Den.

During the Renaissance a man could humiliate his opponent by “bearding” him, grabbing him by the beard and pulling. Hillary had the Republicans by the beard (or even the short hairs) for eleven hours, and then with smiles she got up from the table and thanked her supporters.

I don’t think there were many moments in the 11-hr Benghazi deception when there was depth of meaning, moving beyond party antagonisms and attempts to grasp control of the levers of power; but there were moments when the targeted woman and former top diplomat, along with the Democrats of the committee, especially Rep. Elijah Cummings, became an image of the living soul in our democracy.   To my way of thinking.

To the Republican imagination, however, the image and story are of a female politician who continues to get away with murder.

Granting the fictive imaginations of both views, which is closer to the truth, and who has the healthier imagination?

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