Mandel, D. (2016, September 9). Hillary’s First 100 Days. The New York Times. Retrieved September 13, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/books/review/hillarys-first-100-days.html

In this work of fictional journalism titled “Hillary’s First 100 Days,” David Mandel notes that “Since F.D.R., the first 100 days have come to be seen as the defining moment of each presidency and are used to measure each new president’s accomplishments.” In a most hilariously speculative fashion, he proceeds to create a mock (in both senses of the word) timeline of Hillary’s  first 100 days in the Oval Office. In doing so, Mandel taps into the power of the absurd to make potent points about the discourse surrounding Clinton, including the stereotypes which drive the marginalization of women in American politics and society at large.

While at times the article gives recognition to certain common criticisms of Hillary, such as the email cover-up debacle or that she is a warmonger, it sometimes points out how these criticisms themselves subvert traditional gender norms; did you know, for example, that a woman could even be a warmonger? (I’m thinking specifically of “Day 33” here, where HRC wards off a Russian invasion of the US to the neglect of Time magazine, because we couldn’t have a mainstream news story about a woman being a skilled military tactician now, could we?) Despite recognizing certain criticisms of Hillary and stereotypes against women, the message is ultimately intended to be positive and supportive of Clinton’s capacity as a political leader (though at times I found myself wondering how much it fulfilled these intentions.)

To prompt our discussion, I should like to pose a few questions: what is the role of political satire in rhetoric? Can satire be effective as a rhetorical device? What modes of persuasion does it entail? (Does it appeal to logic or emotions, and is it credible despite being fiction?) How do fictional representations such as this probe at the truth? Can it be that there is sometimes more truth to be found in such fictional representations than there is in journalism presented as “true”?

 

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