I've been thinking for weeks about what role transparency should play in politics and business, and Frank Rich's (Times Select) column in today's NYT has brought it to a head. Jerry's been sharing with me some great posts, including the recent one from SMT's Giovanni Rodriguez, about transparency and its role in corporate communications, most of which seem to be saying "transparency is great, but..." Also I've been trying to nail what disturbs me about Mrs. Clinton's "conversation" campaign, a disquiet so brilliantly evoked with the "1984" mash-up "ad" now circulating.
I'll happily vote for Clinton if she leads the ticket and I'm fairly certain she will. But not for her transparency, actually; I'll pull that lever (we still have them here in New Jersey) for her very lack of transparency. What I admire about Mrs. Clinton is her ability to transform, and to pretend, and to obfuscate her long-term, true goals to get what she wants.
When she was first elected to the Senate, a chamber where even her detractors acknowledge her effectiveness, she immediately set out to charm and impress the very people who had vehemently sought her husband's impeachment. She practically fetched coffee for that ole' horse's ass, Trent Lott; she stayed in Schumer's shadow when etiquette demanded.
When her "memoirs" appeared in 2003, I was reminded of Mary McCarthy's famous observation about Lillian Hellman, "Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the." Not that I believe her to be an Olympic-class lier, like her husband, but I do believe that someone as smart as she is makes the following calcuation: "Okay, you want to know the details of my personal life, about which you have no right to inquire, I'll give you a good story, some of which is true, but more than true, it will correspond to your view of reality."
But again, is that a problem? Do we really want Elizabeth Edwards sitting across the table from Vladimir Putin? Do we really want every blogger to have his or her say with the (future) President of the United States? We should not only not hold her manipulation against her, we should expect it, in the same way that we do not dispute the right of Louis XIV to compel his court to witness his "fake" rising from bed.
The difference between Mrs. Clinton and say, the current occupant of the White House, is that at no time does she seem to have trouble keeping the story straight in her own mind. What does bother me, however, is when she tries to con me, and by me, I mean the advocates of social media. Because by all accounts, her attempts at "conversation" are fairly, transparently, controlled. Her communications have an agenda, and we the users generating content, are not going to be making much of a dent in that department. Fair, enough, Mrs. Clinton, but don't try to pretend with yours truly, m'am, if you please.