This week Hillary Clinton is releasing What Happened, a new book that looks at the hellacious 2016 election cycle to ask how the most qualified presidential candidate of all-time lost to a racist reality TV show host. The debate around it is has been completely insufferable. To some, Clinton has refused to take full responsibility in losing what should’ve been an electoral layup, instead pulling us back into that horrible, horrible 2016 primary debate over whether Bernie Sanders and his bros ruined her chances. To others, Clinton has become a role model for the resistance under the belief that she was completely cheated out of what should’ve been hers. (Which, in turn, means she can say whatever she wants about whoever she wants because it is a particular hell to have your reasonable goals squashed by a shadow conspiracy out to paint you as the antichrist.) Meanwhile, Trump and the Republicans still invoke her name as a sort of boogie man, to distract from their predictable bungling of national affairs.
Anyways, something different from this dreary conversation is an amusing page in Hillary’s book, as pointed out by Washington Post writer Dave Weigel:
This is a real page from the Hillary book pic.twitter.com/RksLsw4mKc
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) September 12, 2017
The Clarkson quote she’s referring to is “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” taken from the singer’s 2011 song “Stronger.” If you are a particular type of sarcastic leftist who tweets a lot, who finds Clinton’s eager “yaaas queen” self-branding to be wholly disingenuous and basically annoying-as-hell, this juxtaposition gives you the hives. There is is, the invocation of high culture with a winking appeal to the low, like a Supreme sticker stuck on a bust of William Shakespeare. Clinton knows her audience, and Kelly Clarkson is a (white, female) singer whose most popular work concerns empowerment. By hat-tipping one of the country’s literal American Idols, Clinton casually maintains an oft-used campaign tactic–acknowledging her (debatably authentic) awareness of pop culture and relatability in the same breath.
In any case, the joke is also kind of funny, something your mom or dad might say to give you the business. Picture your parent, winding up the pitch as you’ve returned home from school with some wise dinner table observation. “Well, you know what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…” “Yeah, who said that? Kelly Clarkson?” What Hillary Clinton deserves is a topic of much debate, but one thing I think we can allow her—and anyone—is the ability to make a joke when the moment presents itself.