May 19, 2008

"With each passing day, it seems a little less likely that the next president of the United States will wear a skirt..."

Did Mrs. Clinton ever wear a skirt? Not once, during the entire campaign. But that's not the point of the linked article (by Jodi Kantor). It's more talk about the whole "woman President" business that has always left me cold. Hillary Clinton is not a woman, she's a particular woman. (She's that woman, Mrs. Clinton.) I have always resisted the efforts to get women jazzed up about the idea of a woman President. But for those who did get absorbed into that idiotic emotional manipulation, there is now the need to work toward closure.
“Women felt this was their time, and this has been stolen from them,” said Marilu Sochor, 48, a real estate agent in Columbus, Ohio, and a Clinton supporter. “Sexism has played a really big role in the race.”

Not everyone agrees. “When people look at the arc of the campaign, it will be seen that being a woman, in the end, was not a detriment and if anything it was a help to her,” the presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said in an interview. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is faltering, she added, because of “strategic, tactical things that have nothing to do with her being a woman.”
I'm with Goodwin on this one. Clinton used the woman thing to manipulate us whenever she could, and her campaign simply failed, as most campaigns fail.
As a former first lady whose political career evolved from her husband’s, Mrs. Clinton was always an imperfect test case for female achievement. “Somebody’s wife,” as Elaine Kamarck, a professor of government at Harvard and a Clinton supporter, described her.
"Somebody." Indeed.
Mrs. Clinton’s supporters point to a nagging series of slights: the fixation on her clothes, even her cleavage; chronic criticism that her voice is shrill; calls for her to exit the race; and most of all, the male commentators in the news media who, they argue, were consistently tougher on her than on Mr. Obama.
It's not that they were tough on her, but that they were easy on him.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, many women say with regret, did not inspire a deep or nuanced conversation between men and women, only familiar gender-war battles consisting of male gibes and her supporters’ angry responses. Mr. Obama, who sought to minimize the role of race in his candidacy, led something of a national dialogue about it, but Mrs. Clinton, who made womanhood an explicit part of her run, seemed unwilling or unable to talk candidly about gender.
Interesting, but Obama did not set out to lead that dialogue. He was dragged into it. Face it, Obama has the more agile, able mind. He presented himself as transcending race — something he could see many Americans want to do — and when he had to deal with it — he spoke in broad, inclusive terms. Clinton promoted herself from the start as deserving special support because of her sex, and then when things didn't go her way, she and her surrogates were quick to attribute her problems to sex and to whine and blame about sexism.

IN THE COMMENTS: dbp says:
"With each passing day, it seems a little less likely that the next president of the United States will wear a skirt..."

My hopes in this regard were dashed once Rudy dropped out.

30 comments:

Zeb Quinn said...

I don't know if Hillary ever could have won it, but, in 20-20 hindsight, the adopting of the early persona of deserving inevitability was not a good strategerie.

The Drill SGT said...

persona of deserving inevitability

I think, I want to earn your votes is a better pitch

rhhardin said...

Not as bad as the other candidates, would have been the hopeful line to take.

dbp said...

"With each passing day, it seems a little less likely that the next president of the United States will wear a skirt..."

My hopes in this regard were dashed once Rudy dropped out.

Salamandyr said...

For the love of Pete, there's a lot of reasons Hillary won't be the next President, but her sex isn't one of them. If anything, this election has proved that Americans can get behind a leader who is a woman or a minority if that person lines up with their other views.

If anything, I would think Hillary's strong run would be inspiration to the next woman who wants to run, and maybe that candidate will have something more to offer than a resume essentially cadged from her husband's.

Balfegor said...

Clinton promoted herself from the start as deserving special support because of her sex, and then when things didn't go her way, she and her surrogates were quick to attribute her problems to sex and to whine and blame about sexism.

To be fair, I think this actually started after Iowa -- in between Iowa and New Hampshire. Up to the end of 2007, she was still running a fairly moderate issue-driven (and inevitability-driven) campaign, one not really focused on her gender at all. Since her defeat in Iowa, though, she's shifted further and further Left, and one part of that repositioning has been her semi-successful attempt to play identity politics.

Eli Blake said...

Honestly, I think she chose poorly when she chose to wear all those bright-colored pantsuits and make it the symbol of her campaign.

I had one voter (a female voter at that) who ended up voting for Obama tell me that she couldn't take Hillary seriously because she reminded her of her daughter's kindergarten teacher on the day they were going to the easter egg hunt.

Now, if you see Nancy Pelosi interviewed on TV, she always comes across as professional and to be taken very seriously. Maybe she should give Hillary some fashion pointers.

Chip Ahoy said...

I don't know if I'd vote for a Scot, they've got temper issues.

Steven said...

Isn't there some way we can amend the Constitution to get a President Thatcher?

Okay, she's 82, which is a downside. On the other hand, with eleven years' experience as head of government for a sovereign, nuclear-armed state, she's way more qualified than any possible American candidate, male or female.

amba said...

God, I hate whiny.

To save time and aggravation, I'm reposting my comment from an earlier post.

I think that line of argument is self-pitying bullshit. It's basically saying, "Oh, guys, be gallant, give us our president."

There's Condi, there's the governor of Michigan -- [Jennifer Granholm] -- oh wait, wasn't she born in Canada? [Was she born a U.S. citizen?] Anyway, I think Hillary broke the ice by being completely, plausibly presidential -- she was just the wrong person. The talent, the presence, the confidence, just too much baggage. She showed that we can well imagine having a woman president, that a woman can be tough enough, and I think a whole next generation of candidates will be stepping up now, and will be taken seriously.

Methadras said...

Look, the bottom line is, is that people will vote for a woman president if is really the right candidate and acts like a man. Voters don't want a shrill, whiny, ball-buster who is a man-hater. They want a woman who is feminine, is intelligent, is great on the eyes, has a killer smile, a killer bod, can make you laugh, and if need be grab a gun and shoot and double tap you through the heart or shove a mil-spec blade through your ribs and slice your throat when you can't see it and yet still be sexy in bed. That's hot and would get my vote. Hillary isn't getting my vote because she just look like the bitch with a bandana wrapped around her head, holding a rolling pin in her folded arms waiting for you to fuck up so she can cudgel you over the head with it and remind you what a pathetic male you are to her.

Trooper York said...

Adrienne Barbeau for President!

vbspurs said...

Did Mrs. Clinton ever wear a skirt? Not once, during the entire campaign.

Wow. Some poor campaign girl reporter probably was assigned the fashion-beat covering "Hillary!". You can see her scribbling in her notebook:

Monday: Buttercup pantsuit, white earrings, beige Jimmy Choos.

Probably followed by a doodle or two.

Cheers,
Victoria

tomb1 said...

As I've said before, we'll know that we have political equality when women can both lose and win elections without it being blamed or credited that she lost/won because she was a woman.

That means that a woman has to lose a presidential nomination or election at some point -- it's good for women in toto (if not for Hillary).

Same for black, Latino, gay, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, etc. Once we're past "the first" then that partciular group becomes mainstream. And that's a good thing.

blake said...

Adrienne Barbeau indeed.

I've offered alternatives to both Hil(l)ary and Obama in the past. Characters with experience, who can--well, fake the gravitas if nothing else. Women who wear and look good in skirts, men whose voices inspire confidence and calm.

We can do better. Actually, now I need to come up with some McCain alternatives.

Methadras said...

Trooper York said...

Adrienne Barbeau for President!


fap fap fap!!!

blake said...

OK, more seriously, if Hil(l)ary used her woman-itude to her advantage at every turn, is that a good thing?

Do we (don't we?) want a President who will exploit any advantage to achieve her goals?

Here's another question I wonder about: Isn't racism ultimately easier to solve than sexism?

I mean, the differences between the various races are trivial, genetically speaking. There is no "black gene" or "white gene", simply certain characteristics more prevalent in populations from one location of the world that we've decided constitute "race".

But the differences between the sexes are not so minor and most of us have to deal with them extensively in our lives. It's not like, "Hey, those aboriginals are cool looking and blow a mean digger-ido."

Most of us have some experience with the opposite sex doing something that baffles or infuriates us. Some of us on a daily or hourly basis.

It's the basis of all those Judd Apatow and Nora Ephron movies.

And maybe "sexism" is the wrong word, but actual sexism gets tangled up in there, too, amongst all the biological facts.

vbspurs said...

Here's another question I wonder about: Isn't racism ultimately easier to solve than sexism?

Interesting question.

And I have to give a lame response: Depends.

Depends on culture, depends on country, depends on consciousness.

Being an early 21st century Western white female, I have to say, I believe racism is the much tougher nut to crack.

Let's think like a racist for a moment: In the case of black people, racists would point out that Africa (or, e.g., Haiti, Bahia in Brazil) lag behind other regions, even in the case of ex-colonial countries like the sub-continent, India.

In effect, they are blaming race as a reason why they lag behind.

Now, let's think like a sexist.

Point out the country or continent composed only of women, which furthermore, is all messed up.

They can't.

They can only infer certain things based on "personal experience", old wives tales, "studies say", women-only institutes and the like.

Larry Sumners learnt that the hard way.

(For the record, I'm not saying he's sexist but it was easy to paint him as such)

The saving grace of the modern age, is that it racism and sexism are seen as retrograde, and you can shame people for what they say if really egregious.

In the US, I would say without a doubt, racism is the least solvable.

Cheers,
Victoria

Trooper York said...

They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no
Yes I've been black and when I come back, you'll know, know, know
I ain't got the time
And if my daddy thinks I’m fine
Just try to make me go to rehab I won’t go, go, go

I’d rather be at home with Ray
I ain’t got seventy days
Cos there’s nothing,there's nothing you can teach me
That I can’t learn from Mr Hathaway

Didn’t get a lot in class
But I know it don’t come in a shot glass

They tried to make me go to rehab I said no, no, no
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know, know, know
I ain't got the time
And if my daddy thinks I’m fine
Just try to make me go to rehab I won’t go, go, go
(Amy Winehouse, Rehab)

matthew said...

If anything, this election has proved that Americans can get behind a leader who is a woman or a minority if that person lines up with their other views.

I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Iapetus said...

Truth be told, Miss Hillary would have had it made if she looked and sounded anything like Segolene Royal, the nominee of the Socialist party in the 2007 presidential election in France. Of course, Mlle Royal was steamrollered by the debonair Nicolas Sarkozy in their debates and in the election, but she was definitely no Bella Abzug.

vbspurs said...

Mlle Royal was steamrollered by the debonair Nicolas Sarkozy in their debates and in the election, but she was definitely no Bella Abzug.

Precisely because she used her sensuality, she wasn't taken that seriously, Iapetus.

(She also had an unfortunate tendency towards Bushism-like howlers in French. That may be semi-okay in the US, but not with the intellect-loving French)

There is a fantastic French comedienne called Florence Foresti.

She ripped Sego a new one, when she parodied her on a TV show.

All France spoke about it the next day. Check it out. It's in French, but she mimes a lot of it. :)

"Jamel n'est pas là? Ou un autre Arabe peut-être?"

Is Jamel there? (No, who's that?) Or another Arab perhaps?

LOL.

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

Whatever happened to Sabine?

vbspurs said...

Aha? :)

blake said...

Sabine Herold?

Seemed like she was modern France's answer to Joan of Arc.

vbspurs said...

Oh wow! +1 for remembering her Blake. I had quite forgotten.

(I also have a cousin called Sabine)

Not too sure what is up with her these days. I wish Althouse had a more international presence, so they could add their viewpoints on various countries. (Like I do, whenever I mention South American countries, etc. that I've lived in etc)

I fancy there are a lot of Brits, Canadians, Aussies who lurk, though.

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

Yeah, what's up with all that lurking, anyway?

I get a fair number of hits (I mean relatively speaking, like 3 out the ten I get in any week...) from outside the US, but none chime in.

When I first got online in '91, that was a huge part of the appeal. I wrote for a German mag, had German business partners, played online with Dutch, Danes, Italians, Singaporeans, and even Canadians!

Maybe it's the focus on US politics and culture that keeps them quiet.

rhhardin said...

The saving grace of the modern age, is that it racism and sexism are seen as retrograde, and you can shame people for what they say if really egregious.


Sexism is a positive good. As, I think, is coming out.

That's the hazard of expanding the meaning of the term. It starts taking over all the terrain, shameable or not, and then gets discredited.

Larry Summers didn't lose that battle.

rhhardin said...

Why does anybody wear a skirt, by the way.

Ann Althouse said...

Ask a Scotsman.