Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton & Lena Dunham Talk Police Abuse, Feminism, & "Cold Shoulder" Dresses

An exclusive Q&A with the Girls auteur subtly reveals why Clinton is dazzling fewer and fewer voters.

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Lena Dunham, the auteur behind the excellent HBO series Girls and the author of the way-below excellent memoir-scrapbook Not That Kind of Girl, has interviewed Hillary Clinton for the first issue of Lenny, an newsletter (to subscribe, go here. As of now, Lenny is not available online but the first issue should be posted later today).

Dunham's interview with the former First Lady, senator from New York, and secretary of state is chatty and focused on Clinton's past mostly: what college was like in the '60s, how she felt about marrying Bill Clinton, that sort of thing. Of note, Clinton takes credit for shutting down a sleazy salmon operation in Alaska as a post-grad wanderer; elides the role that her husband's policies played in today's racially disparate police state; and offers indentured servitude as a reform for bruising student loan debt. Snippets:

[At a salmon-processing plant in Alaska], I was kicked upstairs to do packing, so I was packing the salmon. You had to pack head-tail, head-tail, head-tail. And I noticed that some of them didn't look really healthy to me. So I raised it with the guy who was running the plant. He said, "What do you care? They're gonna be shipped overseas! Nobody in America's gonna eat them." I said, "Well, I don't think that's right. We shouldn't be sending salmon that's gonna make anybody sick." He said, "Oh, just don't worry about it." Anyway, I go home that night, I go back the next day, and the whole operation has disappeared. 

Here's a discussion of criminal-justice reform and race issues:

One of the areas where we have problems is the relationship between communities of color and the police forces who are to protect them. In those police forces now, we have many more police officers who are from different races, different backgrounds, so it's not only a question of white versus black. It is a question of how force is used, how our law enforcement are trained, what kind of mind-set they have as they go about their daily jobs. 

I think that President Obama's policing commission, which has issued a report, has some excellent suggestions. For example, after 9/11, we got really anxious to make sure we had homeland security everywhere. And a lot of military equipment was sold to police departments, and those police departments began to look like they were in a war zone, not protecting the family down the block or the neighborhood community center across town. That sent a very dangerous and threatening message.

It's genuinely heartening to hear Clinton talk forthrightly about the need for reforms. Huge, institutional reforms tend to happen when there is broad, bipartisan support for things to change. That's certainly happening now with many aspects of law enforcement, where minority concerns about abuse have fused with libertarian concerns to create a universal agreement that something has to be done. Having said that, it's worth noting that Clinton glosses over the leading role that her husband's administration played in creating the current situation (and by most accounts, she supported those tough-on-crime policies both as First Lady and as a senator).

As Politico has noted:

Bill Clinton imposed harsher sentencing guidelines, cut education funding for prisoners, and expanded the flow of military equipment to local police in the 1990s, when violent crime was surging and tough policies played well in the political center….

A program signed into law by her husband increased the flow of those weapons from the Pentagon to local police departments. The 1997 National Defense Authorization Act allowed the Department of Defense to donate excess supplies to local law enforcement agencies for any purpose, expanding an older program that was limited to aiding anti-narcotics operations. Under the program inaugurated by the Clinton administration, the Pentagon has transferred more than $5.4 billion worth of supplies, including weapons and vehicles, to local police, according to the Defense Logistics Agency.

Hillary Clinton has never been forward on taking responsibility for actions that go wrong, so it's perhaps not surprising that she isn't exactly going to do so in this instance. The militarization of police was well underway before the 9/11 attacks, thanks in large part to Bill Clinton. Also worth noting: She was slow to respond to Ferguson as it was happening. It was libertarian-leaning Republicans such as Justin Amash and Rand Paul who called out the scene for the troubling tableau that it was.

When it comes to student-loan debt, Clinton skims over the question of why college cost has for so long increased faster than the general rate of inflation (it mostly has to do with massive amounts of free and reduced-price tax dollars flooding the system) and instead signs on to the faddish system of having debtors stretch their repayments over 20 years rather than 10:

I want to give everybody a chance to refinance their debt. Bring the interest rates down, because oftentimes in crowds, I will say, "Who has student debt?" And so many hands go up. I'll say, "Does anybody have an interest rate of eight percent?" Hands stay up. "How about over eight percent?" I had a woman in Iowa the other day, 12 percent she's paying on her loans. I want to just compress those. Drop those. I want to get more young people with debt into programs where they pay a percentage of their income as opposed to a flat rate. That will make it a lot easier to save some money and not be so stretched all the time.

Yeah, maybe. But it's taxpayers who subsidize the loans and the repayment schedules, so all of these reforms essentially put taxpayers on the hook for more interest so that students can indiscriminately spend more money on college. I'm not a fan of student-loan-debt forgiveness for at least three reasons and it's not clear to me that reducing monthly payments is going to do anything to reduce the amount borrowed. If anything, it will make borrowers feel like they can take on more debt. Rather than subsidizing the tuition arms race by pumping even more financial aid into the system, why not cap loans based on the average tuition of public institutions in the home state of the borrower? Or at least offer up something other than a wringing of hands over the aggregate amount of loans and then passing on more costs to non-beneficiaries of the loans (that is, taxpayers)?

In a widely viewed video clip of the interview, Clinton aptly defines being a feminist this way:

It just means that we believe women have the same rights as men, politically, culturally, socially, economically.

That's as good a definition as you'll find anywhere, I think, and it's worth remembering that well into the 1980s, such a unversalist declaration of equality was likely to get at least some pushback. While women of Clinton's generation did not face the same sort of de facto and de jure prejudice and discrimination that older generations did, they hardly emerged into a world as egalitarian as the one we inhabit today. Boomer feminists deserve a huge amount of credit for pushing for the sorts of changes—cultural and social as much as political and legal—that have changed the world we inherited. Much of that wouldn't have happened without them or, almost the same thing, it would have taken decades longer.

At the same time, most discussions about contentious gender issues today revolve less around individuals having the same rights and more about how various government agencies are enforcing Orwellian decrees. Hence, when it comes to questions about due process of college campuses, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights is clearly not enforcing equal rights for all but a set of rules that even many feminists find to be nuts.

The interview is worth reading in its entirety, especially against the backdrop of Hillary Clinton's falling poll numbers and her obvious interest in mounting something like a charm offensive. Dunham is clearly a willing co-conspirator in humanizing the candidate, as when she brings up a favorite "cold shoulder" dress of Clinton's:

It was a design of my friend Donna Karan. And like everything I do, it turned out to be controversial. I'm hardly a fashion icon.

In moments such as these, Dunham's (and Clinton's) starfucking side undercut any pretension to reaching the average man or woman. Beyond the utterly unconvincing humblebrag declaration that she's not a fashion icon but only a beleaguered gal trying to make it in a heartless world, Clinton can't not place herself in the world of New York couture and high fashion. These are precisely the sorts of moments when Clinton loses the little people.

Ultimately, what comes across is the rather unexpected and unarticulated revelation that America is in fact a much better place than it was 40 or 50 years ago when it comes to treating people as individuals.

Oddly, though, that also undercuts one of Clinton's easiest appeals to voters: We can make history by electing our first woman president. Instead, the focus will be on her record, her policies, and her ideas for the future. That's exactly as it should be, even if it helps explain why Clinton is dazzling fewer and fewer people even in her own party.

NEXT: Why Bernie Sanders Is Wrong About Private Prisons

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  1. Lena Dunham, the auteur behind the excellent HBO series Girls

    Really Nick? That jacket cutting off circulation to your brain?

    1. It’s pretty possible that Girls reflects the sort of women he meets on a daily basis, so culturally the show probably speaks to him. Remember he lives in a much more heavily upperclass liberal enclave than we do.

      1. Oxford, Ohio is a heavily upperclass liberal enclave?

    2. He’s neging. “Your shows is excellent, your book is not so excellent.” Give him some slack. He just learned about it and how much effort would you put into getting some of that hot…hot… Lena Dunham?

      1. Just the thought of that makes me want to dip my balls in ammonia and scrub them with a wire brush.

    3. Yeah. Auteur. That’s the word.

    4. I was thinking the same thing. “Nick, you spelled autistic wrong.”

    5. Excellent!?!

      The American remake of Life of Mars was more better than that, as the website Curbside Classic mentionned and I quoted:“These cars are props in the ABC show Life On Mars, which ran for one season in 2009. In the show, a police detective is hit by a car and finds himself in 1973 after regaining consciousness. Even though I have never seen it, with its talented cast, I am sure it is much better than that other show filmed in Williamsburg, Girls (which will be mocked for its tackiness in ten years).”

  2. So there is a 10th level of Hell.

  3. So the criticism is that someone running for a nomination in one of the two colors of the Statist party is a Statist? And is married to a Statist?

    Shocking. Just shocking.

  4. The Clintons’ War on Women

    “Pets Killed. Tires slashed. Windshields Smashed in and bullets left in the front seat of cars. Late night phone calls: We know where you’re children go to school,” all of these threats were part of the Clintons intimidation tactics.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-g…..t-victims/

    1. thats from Breitbart. When you link to reputable outlets like HuffPo and Kos we’ll take you seriously.

      -Leftard

      1. I know it’s sarcasm, but I can’t help adding that Christopher Hitchens cataloged some of that sort of stuff in his book about the Clintons. And he was very much a man of the Left who hated the Clintons for being Republicans in all but name (according to him, at least). Anyway, really creepy stuff if there’s any truth to it.

        1. My impression of Hitch’s contempt for the Clintons is that he despised them for being scumbags, not because of their policy positions.

          -jcr

          1. At least in “No One Left to Lie To,” it comes across as a mix of both. Mostly the scumbag part, but he also really hammers Bill for welfare reform, and for “triangulation” in general. Really a good little book if you haven’t read it.

            1. took the words right out of my mouth, other Jim. Hitchens was and remained a socialist his entire life. Bill Clinton was the guy who one an election by briefly turning the democrats into pre-Reagan republicans. I always felt like, whatever Hitch said about it, that was Clintons greatest crime: lurching the entire electoral system to the right, a move he saw as complete opportunism.

              While I disagree with Hitch on first principles, I do agree that Clinton completely lacks anything even resembling a principled stance on any political topic.

        2. I read Hitchens book on Clinton recently (last 3 months) and I dont recall any mention of smashing or bullets. Hitchens did accuse Bill of being a serial rapist. He did not accuse him of being a mafiosi.

          1. I can’t remember the name of the woman, but one of those who accused Bill of sexual antics apparently had some pressure put on her. Her cat disappeared. Something happened to her car, I believe. And someone came up to her while she was jogging and said something like “Don’t you get the message?”

            I just took the book back to the library or I’d look up the specifics. But I very clearly remember the cat part, because I get very upset about that sort of cruelty to animals stuff.

            1. Just to be clear, there was no implication from Hitch that Bill directly ordered any of this. It sounded like some “friend of Bill” was told to make a potential problem go away.

  5. Anyway, I go home that night, I go back the next day, and the whole operation has disappeared.

    Nice – complete fantasy made unverifiable.

    1. I went to an Eckert Pharmacy once. I defy you to find an Eckert drug store today. It was all this guy. *points thumbs to self*

      1. You know why Crazy Eddie fled to Israel? Right here, baby. I chased that son of a bitch back to his promised land.

    2. maybe the Bosnian snipers got the plant manager.

      1. Are you kidding? Those guys had machine guns and had the whole time she was on the tarmac to get her. Not a scratch. Incompetent losers.

    3. When I run a sleazy bad food operation, I try to invite in the most prominent government officials possible.

    4. Or the fishing season could have ended.

      1. Or she sobered up.

        1. Or she made the fish smell fishier.

    5. “Clinton takes credit for shutting down a sleazy salmon operation in Alaska as a post-grad wanderer”

      It may be disprovable given conflicting statements she’s made in the past about the same event.

      I don’t believe it for a minute.

      It’s more likely that a salmon operation in Alaska hired a sleazy post-grad wanderer, but the next day, after doing shoddy work that might have endangered their customers, the slimy wanderer simply disappeared.

    6. Nice – complete fantasy made unverifiable.

      No way, thousands of pounds of equipment moved overnight.

      http://northpacificseafoods.co…..ew/94/362/

    7. There’s no way in hell Hillary Clinton worked in a factory of any kind.

      1. Obviously, the fly-by-night salmon packers figured out who she was and decided to bolt before the Bosnian snipers showed up.

        -jcr

    8. What difference does it make at this point?

    9. I’ll take “Things that never happened” for $2000, Alex.

    10. I go back the next day, and the whole operation has disappeared.

      The vast, upstream conspiracy.

    11. And a complete re-write of the versions she told previously, where she said she was fired.

      http://www.businessinsider.com…..job-2015-7

    12. That entire tale reeks of BS. How in the hell was Hillary ever packing salmon in Alaska?

    13. She is a serial liar. Nothing that comes out of her mouth matches reality.

    14. Yeah, exactly. As if she had anything to do with them shutting down an entire operation.

      Someone should track this down. It will turn out she worked there for a week, couldn’t do it, and got fired.

  6. “It just means that we believe women have the same rights as men, politically, culturally, socially, economically.”

    This is not the modern use of the word ‘feminist’. Words change meaning over time, and the modern true feminist includes a litany of beliefs that have nothing to do with having the same rights as men. Failure to step in line with these beliefs gets you labeled as an anti-feminist.

    1. See “liberalism”.

  7. At the same time, most discussions about contentious gender issues today revolve less around individuals having the same rights and more about how various government agencies are enforcing Orwellian decrees.

    And another thing… I think that it would be more accurate to say, “At the same time, most discussions about contentious gender issues today revolve less around individuals having the same rights and more about groups (however they are defined) having the same outcomes.”

    1. Having the same outcomes when they are positive.

      No one is calling for their to be more female construction workers or decrying the lack of male school teachers.

      1. I think that Progressives would be delighted if the successful were brought down. Equality of outcome is far more important to them than opportunity or success. Ask your Prog friends this question: if a policy were enacted that would double the net income of all middle and lower class people, but triple the net income of billionaires, would you favor it?

        1. It’s like the police brutality issue. They don’t want it to stop, they just want it to happen to whites as frequently as it does to blacks.

          1. I always love how they paint cops as “teapublicans” and GOPers. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of cop violence happens in large cities where the local government are largely elected on the dime of pubsec Union donations, including the police unions…and they’re almost exclusively democrat.

            1. Cops in any city of any appreciable size are overwhelmingly union Democrats. People are stupid.

        2. No shit. Read the comments on almost any story about wealthy people. The proggies want to steal what they have and redistribute it in the name of fairness. Their goal is the destruction of wealthy people, not the elevation of poor or middle class people. They make it clear every time they open their mouths.

          1. They view it as a power dynamic. The more money someone has relative to others, the more power over everyone else.

          2. ROADZZZZZZ!!!!!

            My labor and participation in the market has increased their wealth. They owe me.

          3. “The proggies want to steal what they have and redistribute it in the name of fairness.”

            Does anyone have any details about Obumbles plan to eliminate worldwide poverty? I suspect that, like everything else he has done, his stated intentions are the exact opposite of the outcome of his plan.

  8. Lena Dunham, the auteur behind the excellent HBO series Girls and the author of the way-below excellent memoir-scrapbook

    FIFY. That show is an absolute piece of shit.

    1. ‘Girls’ you would not hang out with under no certain terms and conditions.

      At all.

    2. So is absolutely everything about Lena Dunham. She even sexually abused her baby sister.

  9. And yet another thing… eight quatloos to the first interviewer who asks Clinton about the origins of the Obama Birther movement.

    1. Didn’t Barry himself start it by claiming in the bio section of his first book that he was born in Kenya?

      1. Dunno, but it was a key part of Hil’s primary strategy in 2008.

        1. Didn’t Trump say exactly this, recently, and the media wasn’t willing to engage it?

        2. It was always a red herring. There’s no dispute that his mother was a US citizen, and that makes him one too, even if he had been born in outer space.

          -jcr

          1. I’m far more interested in seeing his college admissions application and his transcripts. Also the FBI report done on him when he was a presidential candidate. My FBI agent niece won’t discuss the contents, but calls it ‘disturbing’.

          2. Except the claim is that under the laws in effect at that time, she was too young to meet the eligibility criteria to pass her citizenship to him.

      2. His publisher’s bio had him born in Kenya for about a decade.

    2. Maybe Trump could ask her that if he makes it to the debates

  10. At least they all stay dressed in this

    1. *comes back around*

      Nothing? Really? This is a goldmine… someone call for the Cyborg.

  11. It’s like “how much more blue could this be?” And the answer is: none. None more blue.

  12. Who better to interview an unlikable old hag than an unlikable young one.

  13. Add “Lena Dunham interviewing Hilary Clinton” to Hamlet’s list of reasons for suicide.

  14. and offers indentured servitude as a reform for bruising student loan debt.

    Kinda buried the lede not giving a snippet of that part of the article, Nick.

  15. “Ultimately, what comes across is the rather unexpected and unarticulated revelation that America is in fact a much better place than it was 40 or 50 years ago when it comes to treating people as individuals.”

    I was trying to think of all the reasons why Gillespie is wrong about this, and I just came up with a bunch of dead ends.

    I think the reason Gillespie’s statement feels so wrong is that the future was much brighter for the individual 15 or 25 years ago.

    1. the rather unexpected and unarticulated revelation that America is in fact a much better place than it was 40 or 50 years ago when it comes to treating people as individuals

      I’m gonna need this to be considerably unpacked and supported before I can say its right.

      1. I was an adult over 40 years ago. Things are way, way better now.

  16. One liar interviewing another liar the result more lies

    1. Get your next issue of Sociopath Today, today!

    2. “Interviewing.” I think “interview” should always be in quotes.

  17. “an newsletter”

    Are Reason’s proofreaders on strike or something?

  18. “Rather than subsidizing the tuition arms race by pumping even more financial aid into the system, why not cap loans based on the average tuition of public institutions in the home state of the borrower?”

    Fuck that. How about the government gets back out of the loan business and quits supporting corrupt state institutions with stolen public monies?

  19. Someone irrelevant ‘interviewing’ someone corrupt.

    1. ‘someone’

  20. “Anyway, I go home that night, I go back the next day, and the whole operation has disappeared.”

    Why, she’s MAJIK!

  21. This is almost a perfect storm of barfworthiness. My stomach isn’t strong enough to guess what the missing piece might be to bring it to true perfection.

    1. If Amanda Marcotte had joined the interview so Hillary! could talk about how sex-positive she is and how mean the Repubs are with their war on women?

      1. Jimmy Fallon could pop in and let her “slow jam the news” or whatever.

  22. “a sleazy salmon operation”

    ….

    ….

    Paging SugarFree.

    the image of a rancid salmon being autopsied is… under-utilized here.

    However, “Sleazy Salmon” i think might make an appropriate name for a Lena-Dunham-scented musk. Or the color of Hillary’s jailhouse-pantsuit.

  23. “…the first issue of Lenny, an newsletter…”

    Do you have a newsletter that I can unsubscribe to?

  24. “Let’s just talk… woman to woman…”

    Beautiful bean footage starts rolling.

  25. What was the purpose of this article?

  26. two words: Fish Story. AKA: Dodgin’ da Snypuz!

  27. “It just means that we believe women have the same rights as men, politically, culturally, socially, economically.

    That’s as good a definition as you’ll find anywhere”

    Then the best definition is ridiculous. Well, or the phenomenon defined is ridiculous. What the hell are political, versus cultural, versus economic rights? Cultural rights are especially interesting. Presumably, they are simply the aggregation of private, individual preferences. This means that different preferences regarding men and women form different rights (e,g, “if men wear skirts, then we react negatively, [compared to women]”). Not the same rights. Clearly these two women are not for freedom of association. They don’t find “the same legal rights” – equality before the law/equal laws – sufficient. What they have in mind is the right to the same goods.

    1. Anyway, being for equality is a categorical thing. It makes no sense to be for equality in one realm and against equality in another realm. So it’s strange to emphasize women. But let that be so. Equal/Same rights only apply to things that are equal/the same. If women and men are not the same, they won’t have the same rights. This is why there is such conflict over bona fide occupational requirements and disparate impact. Note that (occupational) requirements are the first element of norms, the conditional (“if”) part. The second element is the “then” part, the rights part.

      This definition of feminism is practically useless. Instead of the silly litany, a statement capturing a) negative liberty versus egalitarianism; b) sex differences and their origin, and c) male versus female disadvantages would actually have some use.
      There’s an empirical indication that “feminism” refers to some left-wing and special-interest group thing. The equality stuff adds nothing to that. It’s on the same level of abstraction as “justice”. Norm: The strongest person shall rule. This law applies to all persons; it’s an equal law. Yet it only gives one person the right (to rule); because the persons are not equal: some are weaker.

  28. My bf and I used to pack salmon in Seward every summer. Once the fish ran out the place was closed up pretty much overnight. And none of the fish looked particularly healthy, having been captured, hauled around, slaughtered and gutted. Much like how cows don’t exactly look in the prime of health in a slaughterhouse. Decent pay but nasty work. I cannot imagine Hillary lasting an hour in a salmon-packing plant.

  29. Hillary Clinton supports the racist war on drugs.

    Hillary Clinton supports the War on Women who smoke Weed.

    She is racist and sexist !!

  30. Dunham…Clinton…together at last….the moment all five wierdos have been waiting for…

  31. I have this vision of Hillary smoking a cigar, the two of them sipping scotch, and Marvin Gaye singing “Let’s Get It On” quietly playing in the background.

    I don’t know where that came from, and I truly apologize.

  32. “It was a design of my friend Donna Karan.”

    It was WWII doggerel that came home along with “Kilroy was here”:
    Vote for Boyle / Son of toil / Honest Hal / The Ayrab’s pal!
    Somehow, Shrill comes across as Honest Hal.

  33. Gillespie: “In a widely viewed video clip of the interview, Clinton aptly defines being a feminist this way:

    ‘It just means that we believe women have the same rights as men, politically, culturally, socially, economically.’

    That’s as good a definition as you’ll find anywhere, I think, and it’s worth remembering that well into the 1980s, such a unversalist declaration of equality was likely to get at least some pushback. ”

    And it gets a great deal of pushback in 2015 simply for being false. Does anyone truly believe that contemporary Western feminism is other than a gender supremacy movement? It is impossible to point to any widespread feminist initiative towards equality in the many areas women or girls are substantially better off than men or boys.

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