me, on rabble, again

[a previous blog post, revamped]

Is Hillary Clinton too square for the oval?

In a recent New York Times op-ed,
Frank Rich adeptly outlines the flaws that have plagued Hillary Clinton's run from "day one," then suggests:

"Clinton fans don't see their standard-bearer's troubles this way. In their view, their highly substantive candidate was unfairly undone by a lightweight showboat who got a free ride from an often misogynist press and from naïve young people who lap up messianic language as if it were Jim Jones's Kool-Aid."

"But it's the Clinton strategists, not the Obama voters, who drank the Kool-Aid. The Obama campaign is not a vaporous cult; it's a lean and mean political machine that gets the job done. The Clinton camp has been the slacker in this race, more words than action, and its candidate's message, for all its purported high-mindedness, was and is self-immolating."

Like so many other ovaried observers, I have at times been hard on myself for choosing to support Obama instead of the first viable female candidate for president of those mighty United States. But neither the candidate nor her campaign has ever felt viable to me. As much as I'm a zealot for women's rights, I reserve the right to get excited about the right woman - my foremothers gave that to me.

The first woman to get this close to the oval office happens to come from and speak for the second wave feminists who have always left me feeling disconnected and unheard. Hillary does have chutzpah though; let's give it to her, what with those early claims of inevitable victory and the increasing vitriol over the fact that the numbers and people just aren't doing her a solid.

The overarching problem is that Hillary represents – not just to my mind, but for countless credible democratic activists – a kind of establishmenty flavour. To insist the heat comes from negligible policy differences between her and Obama, the thick versus thin resumé question, or even the gender question is to miss a bigger point. The era of Clintonian politics is over in a way that leaves no self-respecting or movement-participating progressive able to support Hillary in good conscience. And it has nothing to do with the girlie bits underneath her clothes. It's her last name and preferred peer group, not to mention that haunting record on Iraq.

I'm actually quite sorry, Hillary, that your lifetime of hard work on behalf of liberalism may not be enough to send the masses scrambling to hoist you up onto the throne. And I do genuinely acknowledge those efforts. Who's to say what kind of cosmic forces conspired so effectively as to make a charismatic Illinois upstart the stealer of your limelight, the tapper-inner to an apathetic electorate’s thirst for political excitement, the taker of your "turn"? We will soon know if he absconds with your cake or if you can eat it, too.

What I do know is that a great number of exceptional, progressive representatives of fresh feminism could have better challenged Obama. The better woman to vie for the American presidency is absolutely out there. Rather than bemoan whatever injustices may have been done to you, Hillary, on this campaign trail, I'd rather lament a system that requires those better women to have – as you do – the resources, pedigree, or inclination to enter the race. And even if she did, that system comes with a nearly bulletproof glass ceiling, so she'd have to don the hardhat, aggressive tone, and stiff upper lip that so brutally unpopularized you in this run (oh, and she'd also have to have the occasional $5 million hanging around to slide into the campaign when the going gets rougher).

the complete commentary appears here.


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