As most Americans, including a number of Democratic office holders, grow increasing tired of Hillary talking about the 2016 and (still growing) list of excuses for why she lost, there are some that want more.
Paul Waldman, writing this week in The American Prospect, says that Democrats and Republicans alike just need to quit telling Hillary Clinton to shut up about the 2016 election. As part of his rationale, Waldman says that Hillary is the subject of such ‘venom’ because of sexism and that she is a woman. Why does he say that?
Here is the summary of his argument. Because at “…every stage of her career Clinton was told to suppress her authentic self (cut your hair, take your husband’s name, apologize for speaking your mind, don’t make it seem like you have a strong role in his administration) until she was finally told that she wasn’t authentic enough to be elected president. Once again, Clinton is…being held to standards demanded of none of the men who came before her.”
And that is a very close approximation of what we often hear by those who reactively charge ‘sexism’. And it is silliness in the extreme. If that is really why Waldman thinks that sexism is a key part of why Hillary lost, then he simply has no touch with reality.
Anyone in the public eye-politicians, entertainers, even people on trial before a jury-has those kinds of things repeated to them by public relations staff that ‘focus group’ everything down to the color of your clothing accessories. Is Waldman really serious when he says that men aren’t told the very same things or is that just a tactic to try to make Hillary look like a victim? I can guarantee you every candidate for national office is told how to dress. George Bush (senior) was told to play up the influence he had in Reagan’s Administration because it was popular, while Al Gore was told to play down his role because Bill Clinton’s was controversial. Mitt Romney was told that he was too ‘stiff’ and had to use more hand gestures. John Kerry was told he needed to appear as ‘just a regular guy’ and so his campaign set up a photo op to have him eat a cheesesteak in Philadelphia but in trying to do so he managed to show he wasn’t just a regular guy. And all that goes for anyone in the public eye, whether politics or otherwise. It is extremely common for entertainers to change their names, for example. Sometimes more than once. Thinking Man is old enough to remember John Cougar, who after gaining some fame became John Cougar Mellencamp and then just John Mellencamp when he decided to go back to using his real last name.
So changing your name, being told how to dress, and being told to try to come across as someone that you maybe aren’t has nothing to do with being a woman. To say that shows the shallowness of the intellectual exercise that concludes that sexism had any significant part to do with Hillary losing. (As an aside, if that is the case, how would you account for the fact that Hillary got a lower percentage of the female vote than did Barack Obama? How do you ignore that bit of data?)
Waldman ends by asking, “So why are so many people so angry at her now? For many of the same reasons they’ve been angry at her over her entire career.”
On that, we can agree. And that’s why we just want her to go away.