By Justin Wolf
This piece is a fictional conversation, constructed entirely from actual utterances made by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. All quotes are un-doctored, and taken completely out of their original contexts. This piece is meant to amuse; not to besmirch the names, reputations, or public records of the subjects involved. After all, they’re “Just words!”
Hillary Clinton: The differences between you and I pale in comparison to the differences that we have with Republicans. I want to say that first and foremost.
Barack Obama: I agree. We have a stake in one another. What binds us together is greater than what drives us apart. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
HC: We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society… [pause] Probably my worst quality is that I get very passionate about what I think is right. [pause] I did what people do when they do the wrong thing.
BO: The audacity of hope! A belief in things not seen!
HC: The challenge is to practice politics as the art of making what appears impossible, possible.
BO: And when we get lazy … then it results in bad government and politics. And it will leave you unfulfilled … that’s a good reality check on me. If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress. Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference.
HC: The only way to make a difference is to acquire power.
BO: My wife has.
HC: I don’t believe that we really fully appreciate the cost that we may be embarking upon.
BO: Faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts. Unless it’s your job to be curious, who really has the time to sit and ask questions and explore issues? Have you talked to your children about sex?
HC: I have to admit that a good deal of what my husband and I have learned has come from our daughter.
BO: I’ll tell you a quick story: When I go home, my wife wants me to be a good father and good husband. I’m whupped. My wife is whupped. Most people who meet my wife quickly conclude that she is remarkable. People will approach me and say something to the effect of, you know, I think the world of you, Barack, but your wife, wow! People are hungry for something new. It’s not enough to change the players, we gotta change the game.
My wife has been my closest friend; The bedrock of this nation. It’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential. My faith reminds me that we are all sinners.
HC: Who is going to find out?
HC: These women are trash. Nobody’s going to believe them.
BO: I think they are interested in being called to be a part of something larger than the sort of small, petty, slash-and-burn politics that we have been seeing over the last several years. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.
HC: Heavens, no! I could get subpoenaed.
BO: I don’t think that’s a satisfactory response.
HC: I believe in a zone of privacy.
BO: The issues are never simple. I would say toys cannot come in.
HC: Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage always has been, between a man and a woman. This policy will lead to the unnecessary deaths of many people.
BO: My view is that we should try to disentangle what has historically been the issue of the word “marriage.” At times when the services are having a tough time recruiting and training troops, it seems foolish to kick out good soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who want to serve.
HC: I understand the concerns they have about it not being inclusive, … But this is a day to honor the values and contributions of Irish-Americans.
BO: We haven’t been reaching out to them, and I think that if we’re going to make significant progress on critical issues that we face, we’ve got to be able to get beyond our comfort zones and just talk to people we don’t like. But let’s be honest. This is not what this debate is about. Not at this time.
HC: I think we ought to just wait and see what they do… One way or the other, it will be a historic decision that we will live with forever.
BO: I’m going to be more sympathetic not because I’m black.
HC: You show people what you’re willing to fight for when you fight your friends.
BO: That is a fight that all of us will fight. My denomination, the United Church of Christ, does. My wife has.
HC: Research shows the presence of women raises the standards of ethical behavior and lowers corruption. Those who harbor terrorists, or who finance them, are going to pay a price.
BO: I know them. They ask my wife, “How was your day?” Then finally my wife says, “Well, let’s ask Daddy how his day was.”
HC: Son of a bitch.
BO: This debate is an attempt to break a consensus that is quietly being forged. So I’m always very cautious about getting into comparisons of victimology.
HC: Just do your goddamn job and keep your mouth shut.
BO: Talk to my wife. She’ll tell me I need to learn to just put my socks in the hamper. You know what I mean?
On Just Being Different:
HC: Tomorrow we begin again as New Yorkers.
BO: I don’t think we can get that done. But what we can do is to provide just some common-sense enforcement. We’re going to make sure that the right thing is being done. I think that local communities are making enormous strides, and I think they’re doing the right thing on this.
HC: They think work is a four-letter word.
BO: The word is humpbacked, ugly, portending a monstrous outcome: like antebellum or octoroon, it evokes images of another era, a distant world of horsewhips and flames, dead magnolias and crumbling porticos. Just words.
HC: Get fucked!
BO: That’s silly talk. We live in a culture that too often tells us our principle goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained. I have no choice but to believe this vision. The question is how do we get there?
HC: Well, I want you to know that I am keeping a chart.
BO: One of the things we’ve got to overcome is a stigma that still exists in our communities. And one of the things I want to communicate to my children is not to be afraid of people who are different, and because there have been times in our history where I was considered different.
HC: I can’t write anything.
BO: I realize that for some Americans, this is an important issue. So obviously, this is something I understand intimately, it’s something that I care about.
HC: We need to make sure that we do deal with the distinction between crack and powder cocaine. I believe we’ve got to decrease the disparity that exists.
BO: I realize that for some Americans, this is an important issue.
HC: I’m undaunted in my quest to amuse myself by constantly changing my hair. If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.
BO: I realize that for some Americans, this is an important issue.
HC: Are you listening to me?
On Simplifying the Issues (more sex):
BO: I was tested with my wife, in public.
HC: Well, it was a mistake. And you say these things when somebody sticks a microphone in front of you; I thought that was pretty good. It wasn’t.
BO: That’s something I intend to change.
HC: If you want to remain on this detail, get your fucking ass over here and grab those bags.
BO: There is a broader issue: Can we move past some of the debates around which we disagree and can we start talking about the things we do agree on?
HC: I am a fan of the social policies that you find in Europe.
BO: That’s where it belongs.
HC: Our students should be given the kind of message my father gave my brothers and me.
BO: No one is pro-abortion.
HC: We’re searching for more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating modes of living. But look, I’m running on my own. I’m going to the people on my own. I think I know how to find common ground and how to stand my ground.
BO: That is not true. But you know, in the Internet age, there are going to be lies that are spread all over the place. I am convinced that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose.
HC: The American people are tired of liars and people who pretend to be something they’re not. What does it mean to have the right to defend your reputation, or to respond to what someone says? I’m a big pro-balance person.
BO: What I know is there is life here on Earth, and we’re not attending to life here on Earth. One thing I’m proud of is that very rarely will you hear me simplify the issues.
On Child Labor:
HC: …and all of us have to recognize that we owe our children more than we have been giving them. If we are going to combat extremism then we must educate those very same children.
BO: Well, I’ll give you two.
HC: There is an opportunity for more parents to act as consumers.
BO: And we should be trading around the world. We should insist on labor standards and human rights, the opening of Chinese markets fully to American goods, and the fulfillment of legal contracts with American businesses – but without triggering a trade war, as prolonged instability in the Chinese economy could have global economic consequences.
HC: And I think we’ve got to do three things. We need diversion, like drug courts. We must tap into this potential in New York. Number two, it should be especially applied to any kind of imports, and that requires going and making sure that we have inspectors on the ground and we have tough standards and we exercise recalls. And what about other family obligations? No government can love a child, and no policy can substitute for a family’s care. This program should have ended 5 years ago or 6 years ago, but it continues. Children are not rugged individualists.
BO: And so what do we need to do?
HC: Give those heathen a little taste of hell!
BO: Well, first of all, let me tell you what I would do. We have laws on the books now that aren’t being enforced. That’s a good thing. But what we’ve got to make absolutely certain of is that, in that competition, we are hard bargainers. And we’ve got to have somebody who’s negotiating on behalf of workers and family farmers.
HC: It may be well intentioned, but we cannot afford it and we shouldn’t continue it.
BO: Yes we can.
HC: How would you balance human rights and trade with China? We are fed a daily diet of sex and violence and social dysfunction and unrealizable fantasies.
BO: That’s change we can believe in.
HC: That’s change we can Xerox.
BO: We are not going to be able to dig ourselves out of that hole in 1 or 2 years.
HC: That’s only half true.
Justin Wolf is second-year Liberal Studies student and a co-editor of canon. He blogged in a former life, until he discovered that cut n’ paste plagiarism is better suited to his all around lackadaisicalness. He has been published irregularly in various online magazines that no one has heard of. His lovely wife will soon receive an MFA in Creative Writing from another institution, so when the student loan bills kick in next year, he’s pretty much putting all eggs in that basket.