Claims of Sexism: Hillary Clinton's Last Refuge
Like many other conservatives I observed the events of the Democratic primary with a mixture of amusement and confusion. While I have never liked or respected Hillary Clinton, February found me in her corner. My support had nothing to do with a newfound belief in her moderation, as leftism is central to her character, but, should John McCain lose, I reckoned she would be the best -- or least foul -- choice for the right.
My assessment was wholly due to the transformative effect that Hillary would have on the Republican Party. Many conservatives possess considerable animus for her, which I believed would force the GOP to begin dealing with their foes in a stalwart manner or face being ousted at reelection time. Only Hillary could swell the atrophied muscles of the right. RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) would either evolve or become extinct.
Alas, it was not to be. With Obama's statist manifesto now affixed to the wall, his rival placed the blame for her fall upon the back of her oldest enemy -- the American male. In an interview with the Washington Post, Mrs. Clinton refused to concede that Obama had run a better campaign and that her strategy was flawed. Instead, she chose to play the roll of victim.
Jockeying to win the sympathy of the sisterhood -- perhaps in the hopes that their indignation would coerce Senator Obama into placing her on the ticket -- Mrs. Clinton fingered sexism as a major contributor to the debacle: "I think it's been deeply offensive to millions of women. ... I believe this campaign has been a groundbreaker in lots of ways, but it certainly has been challenging given some of the attitudes that have been forthcoming in the press, and I regret that because I think it's been really not worthy of the seriousness of this campaign and the historical nature of the two candidacies that we have here."
Evidently, sexism is an evil so powerful that even accomplished "We Can Do It" types cannot surmount it. In response to a follow-up question concerning racism, she grieved further: "But it does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by comments and reactions of people who are nothing but misogynists. Oppression of women and discrimination against women is universal."
That's true of the third world but definitely not America. What struck me most about this interview is that not one specific instance of sexism was ever cited. Perhaps we have reached the nadir in which a woman's worth has so greatly exceeded that of a man's that charges of sexism need not be substantiated. Accusations alone are sufficient, yet, historically speaking, "guilt by inference" is not a tyranny imposed upon oppressors.
Obviously the notion that a multimillionaire like Hillary Clinton is a casualty of anything other than grandiose expectation is blatantly absurd. That the mainstream media failed to fawn is conceded, but what Hillary and her radical feminist supporters dub "sexism" is actually the refusal to extend privilege (its near opposite). Mrs. Clinton's real lament revolves around equality, and she's bitter over it being foisted upon her.
Yes, the press did not treat her in a chivalrous manner. What Mrs. Clinton craved was special treatment. What she got was the type of disrespect usually reserved for Republicans. The media ridiculed her hypocrisy and broadcast her lies. Their rejection clashed with past experience. Previously, allegations of unfairness and sexism brushed politically correct reporters back in the manner of a 1975 Nolan Ryan fastball, but in 2008 sex is just one of a myriad of leftist superficial fetishes. Besides, in the battle of "isms" skin color usually trumps genitalia.
Thus, with nearly her last spin-meister and dollar spent, Hillary retreated to the warm, cozy redoubt of feminism and its anti-male ethos. While there are numerous philosophical refuges for scoundrels, few are as socially acceptable and therapeutic as misandry. Western men have no group allegiance and many have internalized the egregious conceit that it is somehow unmanly for a man to defend himself before the verbal assaults of women. Hillary knows her audience and is well apprised of their preconceptions. By bringing up the specter of the eternal male, Hillary produced empathic Oprahesque head nods throughout the country.
An episode of Reliable Sources, a CNN program devoted to the media, addressed this subject and several quotations were alluded to as proof of sexism. One was Tucker Carlson's quip, "Every time she comes on TV, I instinctively cross my legs." To the intellectually unmotivated I suppose this line amounts to sexism, but deeper analysis reveals its inadequacy as an explanation.
In fact, Carlson's words were very much reflective of the way conservative males feel about radical feminists. It is only "anti-woman" if one assumes that every woman is a radical feminist. Plainly they are not. Under no circumstances would he have said the same thing about Elizabeth Dole or Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Those two, despite the reservations of pseudo-liberals, are every bit as female as Mrs. Clinton.
Issue was also made of a woman standing up at a McCain rally and posing the question: "How can we beat the b*t*h?" A Reliable Sources correspondent concluded, "I mean, what exactly made it OK for her to stand up in front of a rolling camera at a public event and call another woman this name?" Well, the existence of the First Amendment for one thing, but a better question is why so many women personally identify with the charm-challenged Mrs. Clinton.
Moreover, spouting "sexist" whenever a woman insults another woman is a leap of logic. The more likely hypothesis is that a particular person finds certain elements of another's personality, as opposed to the sex they share, offensive. After all, were I to call another man one of the many colloquialisms available for male genitalia, would anyone deem it an indicator of sexism? Never, so a double standard clearly is at work, but one that favors, rather than penalizes, women. No howls of sexism arose when Gail Collins contemplated whether "[w]omen Obama's age look at him and see the popular boy who never talked to them in high school."
Society's pronounced preference for females has resulted in the reconfiguration of sexism. No longer does the term suggest discrimination and devaluation. Instead, it merely amounts to a person saying something about a woman they would not say of a man. Therefore, comparing Hillary to another woman -- in flattering or unflattering terms -- becomes direct evidence of sexism. It is a crime in name only due to it not being a crime at all.
As opposed to all of this innuendo and assertion, Sally Bedell Smith, in her non-partisan biography For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years, proffered palpable examples of sexism on the part of Mrs. Clinton. The first lady hired a staff of thirty which collectively became known as "Hillaryland," and with the exception of Neel Lattimore its membership was exclusively female. Why? Author Martha Sherrill explained: "She was really into her women friends, into impressing them with her brains and feminism. You got the sense that men were complicated for Hillary, but women were not."
In short, her employment decisions matched her sexist preferences. This had ramifications on her staff's behavior -- as privileged person see, privileged person do. Her minions "spoke with an edge of superiority about the ‘White Boys' on Bill's staff." I suppose we should be grateful that sexism was not their sole pathology.
Despite her own discriminatory practices, Mrs. Clinton insisted that the president select a female attorney general and a cabinet that "looked like America." Furthermore, when Bill Clinton replaced Warren Christopher as secretary of state, one top advisor said, "There was no doubt that Hillary was determined that it be a woman, and that it be Madeleine Albright."
However, with Hillary nothing ever is straightforward. Contrarily, some of her comments revealed a strange, non-feminist fascination with male reproductive organs. David Gergen remarked of her feelings for her husband's staff, "You don't have balls, no guts. You don't fight back." When one of Clinton's bills passed Congress she announced, "Every woman in the Congress voted for you. They've got more balls than the men."
Future gynocentric hagiographers will undoubtedly expunge from their narratives the following question that Hillary put to Bill: "John Kennedy had men around him. Do you think John Kennedy would have put up with this?" No, he wouldn't have, but luckily the country will not have to put up with four years of Mrs. Clinton's sexism, privilege, and entitlement -- which is the only upside of Barack Obama securing his party's nomination. In retrospect, there were no optimal worst case scenarios this year.