A striking convergence is happening in our TV Everywhere universe, which in countless pixels tells me the forces of good are striking back successfully against the forces of evil. Prince, Bowie and especially Ali, through the artistry of their words and actions, earned a revered space in the hearts and minds of so many of us who toil in the media trenches—many of them in positions of power. In such a positive way, each member of this solemn, superlative troika used their amazing gifts to send a message that celebrated the individual, hoping to tap our best inclusive selves. The passing of Bowie, Prince and Ali, sad as they have made this year, serve as vivid reminders that each expanded and shaped how we think about such crucial issues as race, sexuality, commerce, mass-messaging and art.
Last Thursday, the day before Muhammad Ali passed away, Hillary Clinton finally floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, in an eloquent, blistering speech eviscerating Donald Trump for the neo-facist, racist he is, using his damning tweets and his pandering, know-nothing rants to make her case. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was doubling down in his racists remarks against the Indiana-born federal judge Gonzalo Curiel presiding over the fraud case against Trump University. The presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s attacks against Curiel have been so beyond the pale that Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, deemed them racist—not that that should be surprising, given that Ryan is a sentient human being.
Clinton’s speech, along with a newly energized press counterpunching Trump’s serial lying, finally appeared to land some righteous blows on the once-seemingly Teflon Donald, reverberating so loud on media that Trump’s Twitter account went silent for a remarkable 18 hours. (The Guinness Book folks were alerted of the potential record.)
And Tuesday night, a much subdued Trump, making his victory speech after a sweep of primaries ranging from New Jersey to California, stuck to standard-issue teleprompter dross instead of his usual freewheeling stream-of -consciousness one-liner ravings and sloganeering.
When Ali passed, The Donald was quick to praise the champ, whom he considered a friend, but Ali was no Drumpf supporter. Last September, when Trump proposed banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., Ali issued the following statement: “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam.”
I have to think if Ali were still around, he would have been with Hillary, unless he was feeling the Bern. I’m quite sure neither he nor Prince nor Bowie would have ever thrown down with Trump. Watching Clinton’s gracious victory speech last night after she clinched primaries in New Jersey and California, becoming the first woman to be a major party’s presidential nominee, I noticed that the word “inclusive” kept coming up. Damn if she wasn’t, in her tenacious groundbreaking White House Run, on some level channeling the spirit of the Holy Trinity of Cool we’ve just lost.
This year has had enough depressing losses. Hillary has some of her own big issues to overcome, to be sure, but for one night at least, it was inspiring to see her shake up the world.