A Moment of Hilarity for Hillary

“Even if you begged, you will never see me on a trashy talk show show like Ruquier’s ‘On n’est pas couché.’” These were the words of François Fillon in 2014. Now, days after launching his new political book “Faire,” the former prime minister has repeated his remark following Nadine Morano’s TV appearance, in which she provoked a media scandal by making claims about the white race.

Ruquier took to Twitter, writing: “Shame, he would have had four times as many viewers, 10 times as much air time, and we would have read his book.” These days, it’s the Onfrays, Finkielkrauts or Houellebecqs who take the stage and shape opinion.*

Yet, in France, politics and talk shows just don’t mix. That’s just how it is. Any politician partaking in exercises of self-derision, parody, or role-play — and there are a good few Swiss politicians who would all but jump at the chance, providing their private life isn’t up for discussion, of course — will straight away be classed as populist or second-rate and simply be cast aside.

When a politician sets his sights on the presidency, he needn’t overstep the mark. Only by taking himself seriously, will he achieve his political goals. In France, everyone has his or her place: clowns on one side, politicians on the other. The king and his jesters remain undeniably disparate.

In the USA, the opposite is true. The king is a jester. The jesters are the king. A politician who fails to entertain and who baulks in the face of fun will be regarded as haughty, pretentious and elitist — a non-American.

Hillary Clinton has recently experienced this first-hand, taking a lead from Barack Obama, a man considerably well-versed in playing it cool. In a matter of seconds, she succeeded in reversing her stuffy, arrogant image by playing the unlikely role of a bar tender chatting to her lookalike, portrayed by comedian, Kate McKinnon. The show was aired last Saturday night on Saturday Night Live, and yet, on Twitter, the sketch continues to have considerable success among other news about about the political life of the Democratic candidate.

Hillary has recently risen in the polls thanks to the sketch, and, in particular, thanks to her imitation of rival Donald Trump, accent and belly included. Trump, it should be mentioned, owes a large part of his popularity to his clownish behavior. Particularly memorable is his performance on September 11, in which Trump – a man “proud of all he has achieved” – engaged in self-criticism with the show’s presenter dressed as his mirror image, sporting a rather ridiculous wig. We have to wonder if such absurdity isn’t simply aimed at entertaining audiences and promoting the typical mockery of Trump.

In the USA, a country that has elected many a Hollywood actor, everybody loves a show. Nothing is left to chance: scriptwriters, presenters, directors, everyone contributes to making politics a form of entertainment. After all, aren’t the audience and voters one and the same?

But let’s not judge the results of both strategies, French and American. The two are intimately linked to their respective histories and to the democratic system that governs them. In both cases, however, tactic can undermine politics.

Clinton’s hilarious performance came just in time, a few days before the release of a controversial publication titled “The Clintons’ War on Women,” written by one of Trump’s advisors. In the book, it is claimed that Bill Clinton is a serial rapist, and his wife a nagging sociopath who regularly beats her husband. This is yet another book in a series of “Hillary bashing” that has essentially become a genre of its own.

But Hillary needn’t worry. But by now she’s familiar with how to defuse enemy attacks. Not only must she laugh in the face of criticism, but her audience must laugh too.

*Editor’s note: This is a range of personalities who represent extreme opinions in Switzerland.

About this publication

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply