Yesterday's post talked about how I wasn't going to even entertain theories regarding how and why Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, won the New Hampshire primary. Let it be known I intend to abide by what I said. No amount of spin will convince me to jump in with both feet. The only reason I'm citing the below is that it goes along well with what I have been saying. When solid facts do not easily explain unforeseen outcomes, then personal bias often fills the void.
Froma Harrop's column entitled "New Hampshire Women Heard Enough Insults" is the latest example that seeks to make sense of the major media, pundit, and pollster faux paus that happened on Tuesday. Draw whichever conclusions you want to draw. I seriously doubt few people, male or female, would be defending Hillary Clinton today if her campaign was still in self-destruct mode. Our criticisms have little do with the fact she has no Y chromosome as much as they have do with our dislike of her very nature. We have had no reason to like her as a person. Though she made some efforts to change large-scale perception of her personality, these seemed as calculated and politically motivated as the rest of her.
Perception is often reality, love it or hate it, and no one understand this better than a politician. Personality goes a long way and Hillary's polarizing nature has won her enemies on both the right and the left. Personality matters, as I said, but also authenticity matters to the voting public. Contrary to what Harrop argues, many women could run on a platform based on ideals of bipartisan compromise, optimism, and nationwide unity. Hillary could not, because no one would take her seriously if she did. It stands contrary to the very nature of who she is as a politician.
Not that the unfortunate human tendency to kick a person when we perceive him/her to be down is commended, but if blame is to be assigned, Hillary herself should be responsible. Every candidate who has run for President this election has also run into a firestorm of criticism. The wording of these critiques has been different, but the implications are always the same. If Obama falls flat as a candidate, he will be criticized for his youth, his inexperience, and his idealistic message. If Clinton falls flat, she will be taken to task for her strategy to align her message based largely on political trends rather than personal conviction.
The sort of mean-spirited commentary to which humans often resort has many forms, none of them positive. To think that somehow any female could receive savage treatment from the media and the public at large based on her gender alone reveals a short-sighted understanding of human nature. Beating up on politicians might as well be the national sport. As special objects of our derision, they can do little right and a vast amount wrong. It goes along with the territory. Anyone in a position of authority will find himself or herself criticized from a variety of different angles and in a variety of different ways.