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March 23, 2008

Hoping To Bring Peace To Hillary’s (Not Just Northern Ireland) Experience

Hillary-Ireland-2

Hillary-Ireland-1

“I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland.”

– Hillary Clinton

Boiling it down, Hillary Clinton (by personality, capacity and the nature of her relationship with Bill Clinton) seemed to have enjoyed an inordinately high level of access and input as a First Lady.  Still, however, her level of participation in governmental affairs seems to have been officially and most consistently bound by her peripheral role.  Given this equation, I would imagine that both of these images — each accompanying a NYT story in the past couple days about Clinton’s involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process — has got to be frustrating to somebody.

Take the top shot, for example.  Absent the momentary presence of Bill Clinton, who successfully brokered a peace agreement between England and Northern Ireland that Easter in 1998, this image of Hillary with Congressman Peter King and Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams makes it seem like she was right in the thick of things, and possibly even a partner to the negotiations, although she was not (and, for the record, never claimed that she was).

When pressed for specifics to explain what she does claim as a substantive role in the peace process, Hillary often cites bringing a group of Catholic and Protestant women together at a Belfast town hall in November 1995 presumably leading to a  critical “breakthrough” in outlook between the groups.  Although there is disagreement as to how much time Clinton invested that day or how much impact she actually had, the Times uses this context — and the second image above, showing Clinton in May 1999 with female members of the Northern Ireland Assembly — to lead its article about Hillary’s schedule history.

If the contrast between the two images is heightened by Hillary’s similar dress, the second shot — with the officials looking flattered and Mrs. Clinton looking gracious and poised in the center — has problems too.  Given the the visual vocabulary of the photo, pulling for typical associations to the “First Lady” role, there is a tendency to pay this shot, and Mrs. Clinton’s role, short shrift.

Perhaps Clinton damages her cause by overselling her experience, likening her role more to a Vice President than a consistent advisor, emissary or ambassador.  To the extent, however, that her pride (in combination with the issue of gender discrimination) inhibits practical discussion of her actual experience, it makes it difficult to define it for what it is, which is neither profound, at the one end, nor unsubstantial at the other.



Hillary “played a positive role…to bring peace to Northern Ireland” John Hume (from Wesley Clark’s PAC site, SecuringAmerica.com)

Nobel winner: Hillary Clinton’s ’silly’ Irish peace claims (Telegraph)

Conflicting Takes, Here and Abroad, on Clinton’s Role in Northern Ireland Accord (NYT)

Release of Clinton Schedules Offers Chance to Test Campaign Assertions (NYT)

(image 1: White House Photo.  caption: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Representative Peter T. King, center, and Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein in 1998 after Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Adams and President Bill Clinton met on decommissioning arms. nytimes.com.  image 2: Peter Morrison/AP.  May 1999.  caption: Hillary Rodham Clinton as first lady, center, in May 1999 with members of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast. nytimes.com)

  • gasho

    The first shot looks like a group of aunts and uncles who just arrived at a suburban townhouse for easter brunch – not a powerful scene at all, visually.
    The second looks like a bunch of mild-mannered ladies about to take tea during a bus trip. Also not very ‘powerful’.
    If this is an attempt to make her look presidential, I’d take any picture of Obama at the microphone with his game face on over these any day.

  • Cactus

    “I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland.”
    …er… I was there when peace came to Northern Ireland.
    …er… I was in the hall with Gerry Adams when peace came to Northern Ireland.
    …er… I met with mothers when peace came to Northern Ireland.
    …er… I was there with Bill when he brokered peace in Northern Ireland.
    …er… I watched Bill as he brokered peace in Northern Ireland.
    …er… I slept in the same room as Bill when he went to Northern Ireland.
    I….I….I….I….I….er……..

  • MonsieurGonzo

    Oliphant => http://wpcomics.washingtonpost.com/client/wpc/po/2008/03/19/
    ref : “ I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland
    It is said by some that Mr. Obama “speaks to us in paragraphs,” whereas Mrs. Clinton parses.
    …from this metaphor they see reflected the inclusive plurality that pulls upon those within Obama!, the movement -v- the inherent polarity of poll-driven product branding practiced by TheClintons, and almost all other commercial politicians. Though it may have been more ‘truthy’ for Mrs. Clinton to have said:
    I experienced the process that brought peace to Northern Ireland . . .
    . . . it would have been more interesting if she had said:
    We helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland .
    The irony of Mrs. Clinton is that she takes great pains to parse herself from TheClintons to become brand ‘Hillary’, yet continues further still to parse herself as singular case from us : She rarely uses ‘We’ in any sense, and when she does so it often speaks only to ‘people like you who identify with the brand that is me’ = a bipolarizing tense of : US versus THEM.
    The irony of Mr. Obama is that within the Obama! movement there are no doubt many who also see themselves in some conflict context such that CHANGE = US versus THEM; whereas the candidate, himself often reaches rhetoric whereby CHANGE = US versus THEN.

  • Johanna

    One can only guess, because she is such a fabulist and teller of tall tales. To me, she looks rather lovely in both pictures. You can’t see in ths face the vengeful dishonest person she is. The press has emphasized the gunfire on the tarmac whopper, but that was preceded by a number of other obvious ones, including the Ireland story. That she dared to tell the tarmac tall tale is what interests me the most. Why did she feel so protected, and why is she no longer enjoying that level of protection in the media?

  • pseudonymous in nc

    this image of Hillary with Congressman Peter King and Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams makes it seem like she was right in the thick of things,
    It also reminds us that Peter King was a long-time supporter of Noraid — let’s be blunt, and say that he was a terrorist sympathiser for the Republican cause, back when the the IRA was blowing shit up — and his transformation into some kind of counter-terrorism expert post-2001 is a sign of the capacity of American politics to tolerate bullshit.

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