Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Edition of Lessons in Safe Logic

I see commentary like this everywhere among Hillary supporters. Using this line of thinking you could hardly blame Obama for losing his temper, if he ever did, if someone criticized his child or his wife. Furthermore, using this same rational, you could hardly blame Bill Clinton for reacting as violently as he did towards Barack Obama when Obama ran a better campaign than the both of them have done. I mean, after all, we shouldn't blame people for losing their tempers when they prove themselves human and protective of those they love, right? Well, maybe. If that applied all the way around, you might have a point.

The sexist attitudes apparent in the misogynist attitudes that led to the public reprimand of at least one MSNBC talking head and in the conduct of many others show us both how far we have come and how far we have to go as regards equal rights based on gender and the breaking of the so-called glass ceiling. If I felt as though sexism alone was responsible for Clinton's communication breakdown with voters, I might be more sympathetic.

Cynically speaking, I certainly didn't see these sorts of attacks out in force until Obama overtook her for the lead. Obama may benefit from his status as a black man regarding his treatment in the mainstream media, but then again, he has never openly invoked a notion that he is running as the first African-American male. His soaring rhetoric alone has frequently mentioned that he is running to transcend race, not divide us between pro-black and anti-black. Hillary has, however, invoked the fact that she is a woman on the stump, particularly when playing the girl card is to her own benefit. Her view is woefully myopic because it presupposes that male versus female is the reason she is trailing in the polls. To an extent she is right, but her whole context of pleading her case to the American public is as deeply sexist as the sexist attitudes which want to see her fail.

NOW's constitutional equality amendment, proposed in 1995 as a revision of the oft-championed but never ratified Equal Rights Amendment states: Section 1. Women and men shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place and entity subject to its jurisdiction; through this article, the subordination of women to men is abolished

Second-wave feminism made advances for women and gave Hillary the ability to run as a woman and be taken seriously. However, the backlash against Ms. Clinton is largely of her own doing. Men and women both in a public setting are criticized for lack of charisma or warmth. This is probably a discriminatory act, but I see no movement championing rights for Charisma deprivation and no -ist ending statement to encapsulate that notion either. Charismaist? Warmthist? To her credit, she has tried to improve her frosty attitude, but to minimal success. Barack Obama oozes charisma and likability from every pore. Not because he is a man, but because he was graced with those talents. Politics is theater and we all see bad actors and actresses when they appear on stage and clearly know how distinguish convincing ones from unconvincing ones. We love to criticize mediocrity in our stars and hyper-magnify all their flaws, even those they are not responsible for creating.

Hillary is trying to have it both ways, and the American Public sees this, to its credit, and will not let her get away with it. You can't claim you're running on your own merit and not your husband's when you use him as your surrogate. You can't claim to be your own woman when you use your husband to do the knee-cap breaking for you and outsource your desire to criticize your opponent to a man, husband or not. Hillary Clinton has used Bill Clinton to her own advantage. Bill is as responsible as she is for her high negatives and now runner-up status in the Democratic primary. You can't say a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle and then prove yourself hypocritical to the whole notion of feminist empowerment when you clearly believe you NEED him and his credentials to win.

If Obama wanted to use Clinton logic, he'd run his wife Michelle on a dual ticket, use her in a public setting to criticize Hillary, because according to that line of thinking there's some rule that only another woman can criticize another woman just like there's some rule that only a man can criticize another man. Taken this way, we could say that no white person has any right to criticize any black person, no black person has a right to criticize any white person, and no one of any race has any right to criticize any other person of any other race.

You can't have your cake and eat it too, Ms. Clinton. You can't invoke experience when your role in eight years of Bill's Presidency has been nebulously defined. You particularly needn't invoke it when your prominent face as the champion of health care reform was a dismal failure and created a serious backlash, whether justified or not. You cannot tell me you are running on your own merits and experience, when you have been a member of the Senate for only a handful of years longer than Mr. Obama. You cannot expect to invoke eight years of a Clinton White House and not expect to revive memories of both its successes and its failures. You cannot take credit, in good conscience, for the good times when they benefit you personally, and dismiss the bad times as his, not yours, when they work against you.

5 comments:

Will said...

Too many folks just don't like her.

But they were afraid to stand up to Team Billary--too much power there,too much fear of their their over-the-top, pit bull political tactics. Obama's charisma gives everyone an excuse to throw Billary over the side.

Have a nice swim. . . .

ing said...

Hello!


I hope I'm not intruding by commenting here. I came here from Erratic Rabbit's & enjoyed your post.

I guess I feel that Hilary is considered "frosty" partly because women are supposed to be warm, nurturing, and in the passenger seat. A woman who switches to the driver's side is viewed as sort of cold simply because of the switch. And in order to stay there, a woman has to compensate for what others assume about her inherent softness by overemphasizing her hard side, because a female leader will be scrutinized, and any sign that she is or isn't what a woman is expected to be blown completely out of proportion & used as evidence for why she cannot be what a man can, in our modern society, be.

Which is why I do find that criticism of Hilary in particular a bit sexist, just as I find that nutcracker sexist. Why is it that a woman who aspires to be a leader also a ball-breaker? Do we ascribe misogyny to every man who runs for political office? No, because a man running for political office is normal, and the oppression of women is so incredibly pervasive it makes my skin crawl sometimes.

I shut up now.

Will said...

The reason I don't like her is that she's a crook. Women, too, can be crooks, can't they?

ROTUS said...

The Media is suffering from bad case of the Obama swoon. So are many bloggers.

Comrade Kevin said...

Everyone is welcome to comment. :)

Unless you are a wingnut.

Will,

I agree. I hope she sinks in the same way that all crooked politicians, regardless of race, creed, gender, or color sink.

Ing,

You raise some extremely valid points, but Hillary has never justified her reactions in such terms and certainly not in a public forum. Gender expectations hem both men and women into roles. If a openly gay man runs for President or an effeminate man were to do so, he would be lambasted for acting like a woman and his personality would be scrutinized to such a degree.

If Hillary really wanted to win me over, she would take the risk to be herself and show her vulnerable female side more than just one crying jag in a restaurant. If she were cute and cuddly (which she is not) while some would emphasize this as some sign of weakness but I think terms like "pile on" might be applied to her more easily. She acts like a man because to me, she's just inherently mannish. I don't see a real feminine side to Hillary Clinton and that is to her detriment, rather than her benefit. And let it be said I don't see a human side to her, which if she had any guts at all she'd display more openly. Perception is reality and perception is that she is cold, calculating, spiteful, and robotic.

I see a human side to Obama, however, that goes beyond gender.

Rotus,

Contrary to what some may be fearing, I am not suffering from the Obama swoon. Rest assured, if he doesn't produce if elected I'll be the first one to hold his feet to the fire. He has a honeymoon period with me and apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I had a honeymoon period of real hope with the 2006 Democratic victory in Congress which turned quite quickly towards wholesale condemnation.