WHY DO so many people enjoy slapping Hillary?
Before we launched SlapHillary.com, every pollster and newscaster swore that Hillary’s popularity was soaring. The last thing the world needed, it seemed, was an animated Web site enabling users to slap Hillary in effigy. That, at least, was the impression conveyed by all the talking hairdos on the network news.
But the talking hairdos were wrong. SlapHillary.com got five million hits in its first five days. Hundreds of letters poured in from enthusiastic slappers. An amused Brit Hume showed a clip of SlapHillary.com on Fox News.
“Slapping Hill is like a dose of Xanax, calming the nerves and bringing the sounds of cool streams and babbling brooks,” wrote one grateful user.
“I think I fractured some ribs from laughing so hard,” wrote another. A third confessed: “I laughed so hard, I wet myself.”
Hillary supporters are reportedly planning a Web site called KickRick.com. But they are fooling themselves if they think it will unleash this kind of passion.
Kicking Rick Lazio incurs no risk, violates no taboos. People simply do not fear Rick Lazio. It is the undercurrent of fear that lends spice to the SlapHillary experience.
Hillary, “gives me the creepy crawlies in ways that I don’t always understand,” confesses Elizabeth from New York.
“I slapped Mrs. Clinton and survived!” exulted one writer from Houston.
“Truly cathartic. I feel great,” wrote Tom from Connecticut. “… I hope the Secret Service does not call me.”
At the dawn of perestroika, Russian artists began painting irreverent caricatures of Mikhail Gorbachev on matryoshka dolls. The constant threat of arrest only enhanced their guilty pleasure. But it was a real threat. One vendor of Gorbachev matryoshki was charged in Moscow city court for besmirching the “honor and dignity of the Soviet president.”
Slapping Hillary is a bit like that. With each slap, we sense that we are drawing nearer to a Siberian prison cell. But our anxiety only makes the slap more thrilling.
Then, of course, there is the tantalizing possibility that we may end up getting the last slap, after all. That Moscow matryoshka vendor was eventually acquitted. It was Gorbachev who soon found himself out of a job. There are signs that Hillary’s power too may be on the wane.
Last Thursday, when Hillary attempted to speak at a pro-Israel rally at the United Nations, she was drowned out by a chorus of boos and jeers. Lazio, on the other hand, was cheered by the crowd of 15,000.
There is nothing unusual about Hillary being booed in New York. It happens all the time. When Hillary marched in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in March, she ran a 45-block gauntlet of boos and catcalls. She was also booed when she marched in the Salute to Israel parade in June.
What was different about last Thursday, though, is that the mass media actually reported the booing. Usually, they pretend it never happened.
When Eva Peron walked among her subjects, she often planted fake supporters in the crowds, who would cheer for the cameras. Hillary uses similar tactics.
My wife and I watched Hillary march in the Columbus Day parade last week, on Fifth Avenue. There were plenty of booers and catcallers, as usual. But, wherever Hillary walked, a mob of about 50 operatives ran, in tight formation, on either side of the street, brandishing “Hillary” signs and screaming their support for the First Lady.
Thus, the photographers and TV crews - if they angled their shots right - could always make it seem as if the First Lady were surrounded by adoring fans.
Then there are the polls. A couple of weeks ago, the media reported that Hillary had taken a decisive lead over Lazio. But the pollsters were later shown to have grossly oversampled pockets of known Hillary supporters, such as female residents of New York City.
This sort of manipulation has left many Americans feeling like Soviet citizens back in the days of Pravda and Izvestia. Buffeted by propaganda, we feel helpless and alone. We watch our friends and neighbors with guarded eyes, wondering which of them might share our opinion of Hillary. But we are afraid to ask.
“It's so good to know that I'm not the only person who feels this way about Madame Hillary Peron DeFarge Ceausescu,” wrote Susan from Dallas.
Yes, Susan, we know how you feel. Our little Web site may not change history. But it does make us laugh. And sometimes that is enough, as the Russians have learned from centuries of experience of dealing with people like Hillary.