2008, oil on canvas, 84" x 66"
Hey. Where’s the party?
It’s a party of two. I don’t have Champagne, but I do have a fifteen-dollar Barolo.
No, not possible. Is that a new painting?
Yeah. You know what I found today? The clip of your speech on the Senate floor on the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
Are you going to open that or what?
Yes, yes. I didn’t know if you had voted yea or nay, so I googled it.
Do you need help with that corkscrew?
No, I got it. I think.
Let me do it.
I can’t believe you thought I would vote yes on that.
Sarah, this isn’t a Barolo. It says Barola!
Oh. Is that the female version?
Gee, I don’t know. Maybe. Where are the glasses?
[tastes wine] It’s good!
To inspirational speeches. Especially those delivered in an empty chamber, captured on C-Span and watched by people like me who want to hear some of your words and maybe see some cleavage.
Interesting combination of motivations. What speech are you referring to?
The Military Commissions Act. You’re not listening to me.
Oh, that's right. You know this does taste sort of like a Barolo.
Anyway, I really enjoyed reading it with all the historical anecdotes. But when I watched you deliver it, I couldn’t stop wondering what was wrong with your mouth. Did you get dental work that day?
Maybe. Was I puffy and slurring?
Maybe a little puffy. I could also hear a faint whistle when you spoke and your mouth wasn't moving in the usual way.
That’s what you came away with? That’s what you remember? After all that hard work on the speech.
No, no. It just got me thinking about performance and rhetoric and how visuals get in the way. It’s weird watching senators orate to no one.
There’s always people around.
Yeah, just sort of mulling about. It strikes me as an exercise in futility.
That’s rather cynical.
When I’m watching I get embarrassed sometimes. It’s like I’m experiencing my own sense of futility, my own sense of impotence.
What do you mean?
I don’t know. Pour me some more wine.
Wait, how does watching me deliver a speech on the Senate floor make you feel that way?
Actually I don’t feel that way watching you so much. It’s when I’m watching guys like Kerry or Byrd. I love watching Olympia Snowe. Yes, I would vote for a Republican.
You better not vote for McCain.
Not now. He voted yes on that bill.
So why do those male senators constellate futility and not Olympia or me?
Actually, watching you does constellate it, but not watching you talk. In fact, that’s it. It’s your voice and when it is deliberately ignored or maligned by the media, I get depressed. I see you returning to the Senate and speaking to an empty chamber.
Which, believe me, is not an exercise in futility.
You’ve been speaking directly to us for a year and half. Your priorities and concerns have driven a lot of the conversation, but the media has been dying to give him the microphone and take yours away and they finally succeeded. So it is a futile fight, for any woman, to try and occupy that space out there in the public arena. At least in this country it is.
No. No it’s not. Stop being so cynical.
As soon as you exit stage left there will be no representation in the media of an authoritative, agenda-setting female voice. We’ll be left with the Vieira’s and the Couric’s and the Dowd’s and Noonan’s of the world, commenting on the minutia. I can't describe how depressing that is to me.
I haven’t exited Sarah.
I really wanted you to be my president.
Are you crying?
It’s your voice I crave, the plain speaking one, the one void of clichés and trendy speak like “folks.” The one that embodies an awareness of others, and doesn't need to perform it with empty phrases like “I feel your pain.” and “Yes, we can.” It's why your bid is not based solely on a personal, bio-driven narrative. It's the innate humbleness, the self-effacing part that makes “Church of Hillary” an impossible phenomenon.
I appreciate that. I really do. Please stop crying.
I don't want to. #