I’ve made my peace with Hillary Clinton. Initially, I was outraged over the use of a private email server to conduct government business. But my opinion of her improved in inverse proportion to the revulsion that resulted from continued exposure to Donald Trump. Compared to him, she started looking good, then great, and ultimately heroic. As the election cycle wound to a close, a glimmer of admiration ignited into a conflagration of respect – awe, even.
She takes outrageous chances, sets her own standards, conforms to no rules but her own – she is the Outlaw Hillary Clinton. The outlaw myth is as American as apple pie, and to someone who grew up gleaning ethics from Ernest Thompson Seton’s Wild Animals I Have Known, irresistible. It’s every wolf for himself, as long as that also means the good of the pack.
Clinton embodies these values as no other, providing us women-folk with a rare outlaw heroine. Nasty women indeed. Irrepressible, untouchable and as unstoppable as the Terminator, she is both engineered and a force of nature; cunning by design.
“One of the most important of the outlaw hero’s moral guidelines is [to] never rob or in any way harm the poor, the weak or the otherwise unfortunate,” writes Graham Seal in The Outlaw Legend. High-priced Wall Street speaking engagements? A fine tradition that sees the outlaw robbing from the rich. Because really, what did they get in return? And it’s not like they can’t afford it. (Getting them to fork it over without violence is a nice touch.)
And boy, does she know how to evade a posse. Pursue her though they may, Clinton left congressional lawmen in her dust, twiddling limp lassoes as she lit out for them thar hills, beyond the grasp of Benghazi enforcement. The hearings – all 33 of them, at a cost of $7-million-and-counting in taxpayer funds – left her virtually unscathed. It was all the more dramatic in that she did it with coke-bottle-thick glasses and a headache – the outlaw equivalent of one hand tied behind her back. Committee chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) could be imagined twirling his mustache, Snidely Whiplash-style, if it wasn’t adolescent peach fuzz. Meanwhile, the nasty woman rode off, her sights on the next prize.
War-tested and battle scarred, she is a woman worthy of our imagination and materiality – tall boots to fill! And fill ‘em she did, pumping gasbag Donald Trump full of holes in an election duel that left him hissing methane like some obsolete parade float crumpled to the curb. All to the delight of the assembled townsfolk, mainly college educated white women.
The outlaw as a folk cultural tradition “generates songs, legends and so on, but also with a set of social, economic and political attitudes that motivate the actions of individuals and groups enmeshed in specific historical circumstances,” Seal writes. “In the case of almost every outlaw hero tradition identified here there are serious social, economic and political tensions within and between the various communities and groups involved.” True enough. If the outlaw’s gonna ride, you want ’em riding on your side. I look forward to seeing what these outlaw super powers can do for the U.S. and us.
Paula Parisi is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has taken to blogging as paulala.