Sunday, February 03, 2008

Authenticity Betrayed

Notice the look in Clinton's eyes during the Kodak Theatre debate as she listens to Obama challenge her on the Use of Force resolution.

Watch carefully.

Note how hard she is working hard to suppress admiration. First, there is the moment of clear recognition of his facility at jousting, fighting, parrying--the momentary shocked surprise, followed by professional appreciation, a moment of enjoyment, and quick upon this, the icy millisecond of fear--after which, you can see her work--responsibly, this must be covered--to put her serious, skeptical, no-nonsense pose back in place.

She is enjoying him--a genuine response--and she has to fight to repress it.

It's a kind of tragic irony: It is that Hillary--the one that flickers and submerges in that moment, behind the one that has now been twisted into place to frantically wave and bellow through Super Tuesday--who offers the genuineness of spirit, comfort in her own skin, and basis for generating an authentic spirit of change that is now offered by Obama, and that the electorate is responding to.

It is possible to be both genuine and tactical. What this requires is the courage of one's convictions and the stable and consistent belief in self and one's purpose--that one knows who they are and what they believe, providing the foundation for action. Tactics can issue from this--as they do from Obama--but they are mobilized in the service of this firm belief and from this knowledge of self.

Self, itself, cannot be tactical.

Now, this reminds me of many things--of a woman who, inevitably, as we saw in Bernstein's excellent "A Woman in Charge", must ultimately be drawn to the combatant; of someone who constantly seeks to be free of the armor of self even as she, once again, somewhat wearily places it on; of a father who always had a stronger answer, who she could never quite please, and enjoyment and attachment that a child develops to such experiences, even as they seek, often for the rest of their lives to both satisfy and overcome it.

But you are not a Georgetown doctor and you may want something less clinical. So let's propose the following:

In such moments, she betrays the ironic truth--the proud speaker of Wellesley, still very much present beneath the armor, would likely be a follower of Obama--if events in New Haven had turned out slightly differently.

-Dr. Alan J. Lipman