Hillary Clinton has been involved in a number of snafus over the course of the election cycle. Being confronted about her use of the term “superpredators.” An ill-fated dab. Somehow putting Rosa Parks on the back of her ever shifting “H” logo. Hiding her forearm tattoo sleeves under a collection of Steve Harvey pour femme pantsuits.
Liking hot sauce does not belong on this list.
Following Bernie Sanders’ lead, Clinton found herself paying a visit to The Breakfast Club on Power 105.1 in New York City. Toward the end of the interview, which was released Monday, Angela Yee lobbed Clinton a softball: “What’s something you always carry with you?”
Clinton flatly replied, “Hot sauce.”
HBCU cafeteria tables rejoiced. Charlamagne tha God provided the appropriate follow-up commentary and let Clinton know that people were going to accuse her of pandering.
Her response: “Is it working?”
Out of context, a quote like this calls for “Pander, pander” chants to rain in from the cheap seats, but as a neutral observer who watched the entire interview twice, I was sufficiently charmed. Her response revealed two things that I was previously unsure of:
1. Hillary Clinton is self-aware. This was admittedly a shock. Now, I’ve been under the suspicion that Clinton is a living, breathing human being for some time, but I finally feel that she’s proved it. An Associated Press article in December 2015 revealed that Clinton enjoys hot sauce, and a Wall Street Journal article even noted it as far back as 2012. Although I believe that Mrs. Underwood—er, Clinton—is capable of Machiavellian scheming, I doubt that Tabasco is one of her major corporate donors. This woman knows how she’s perceived, but yet she soldiers on. She’s still standing, she’s still strong.
A little earlier in the interview, Clinton revealed her thoughts surrounding her authenticity: “When you go on Ellen’s show, it’s so much fun … and when they ask you to do things, which, you know, in retrospect, you shouldn’t do because you can't do them. I mean, If I could do them, we would not be having this conversation.”
Charlamagne said, “It always comes off like you’re trying too hard.”
Clinton responded, “Yeah, like I’m trying too hard, because I am trying too hard.”
2. The populace needs off-site training on “pandering.” Merriam-Webster defines “pander” as “to do or provide what someone wants or demands even though it is not proper, good, or reasonable.” There is nothing proper, good or reasonable about a 68-year-old woman trying to participate in the dance craze of the day, but she is trying.
Plenty of grandmothers and grandfathers do just that when they’re trying to fit in with the kids, and Hillary Clinton is a member of that demographic. Grandma dab has more than 57,000 hits on YouTube. Papi Le Batard has “Milly Rocked on any block.” Political ground beef isn’t enough to make these youths spend time with Papaw. There is value in an attempt, because open distaste is an option.
Within the definition of pandering, there are grades implied by the three adjectives used. He-who-shall-not-be-named is touching all three bases of “not proper, good, or reasonable” to rile up rabid frothy whiteness across the country. Furthermore, he’s so culturally and socially detached from his base that it couldn’t be more apparent. A majority of Clinton’s gaffes fall into the “not proper” category—social missteps from someone who is breaking her neck harder than Spliff Star to fit in.
The use of the word “pander” is off-limits from here on. By definition, an elected politician is supposed to enact the will of the populace that he or she represents. There have been a number of articles claiming that Big Hill has moved to the left because of the presence of Bernie Sanders. Whether she has or not is up for debate, but if she has, it’s not pandering. It’s a good thing.
A politician who has resided in the public eye for the last 25 years does not have the luxury of remaining stagnant. Hillary Clinton has had a political life full enough to have long ago retired to a life of being implicated in the Panama Papers, so the fact the she still wants your vote is commendable. An ideological debate that should be about pulling the country left versus pushing it left has devolved into whether a woman from Arkansas likes subpar hot sauce, and that is a hot mess. (Tapatio forever.)
Brandon Harrison lives in New York City and has Hollywood stories that rival those of Rick James. He prides himself on staying righteous and knowing more about basketball than you do. Follow him on Twitter.