The best thing on the internet (this week) just got even better. Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State herself, saluted a meme devoted to her sassy texting persona via autograph, and even by submitting her own entry. The site, Texts from Hillary, has only been active since last week, and already Clinton is in on the joke. Typical.Good one, Hillz.
When a politician takes control of their public persona, or popularized meme, and references it themselves, it boosts the satirical value of the joke, and their own likeability. It shows confidence, and political integrity. Like Clinton, Prime Minister Stephen Harper uses this to his advantage all the time; it’s almost a personal trademark.
Harper’s self-depricating jabs about his perceived lack of charisma and cold as ice persona made their debut in the 2004 federal election. According to a report in The Economist, “when a television reporter asked him to repeat on camera a few sentences ‘with feeling,’ he shouted back, ‘I don’t do feeling.’”
Since then, Harper has repeatedly gone out of his way to disprove his public image, and as of the 2011 federal vote, he’s been rewarded with a majority rule in parliament. Coincidence? Doubtful.
In 2009, Harper took to the stage with Yo Yo Ma in Ottawa to perform a Bill-Clinton-on-Arsenio-Hall-esque rendition of a Beatle classic to show that he was, indeed, a fan of the arts. At the time, the Harper government came under fire for cutting arts funding, but the Prime Minister knew just the perfect response – and drew a standing ovation.
Oh, and then there was that time that he had a sleepover with Rick Mercer.
In taking a page out of Harper’s book, Clinton looks to be building her public appeal by deconstructing her tough-as-nails persona. Could this be the first step in her possible 2016 presidential run? Time will tell. In the mean time, “by all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.”
All photos from Texts from Hillary.
Joanna Adams writes for Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter atâ€ @nowstarringTO.