Shaker Liz sent me this NYT piece by Frank Bruni: "Hillary Clinton's Moment." It's basically about how Hillary Clinton is the worst, but, hey, she tries really hard and has moxy. You go, gal! Except she's still very unlikable. OH WELL!
All of it is obviously terrific, but I was particularly fond, ahem, of two passages:
But grit won't be enough.The only way Hillary Clinton has become a legitimate contender for the US presidency is because she had to "pay her dues" for decades. As First Lady of Arkansas, as First Lady of the US, as Senator, as failed presidential candidate, as campaigner for her former rival, as Secretary of State, as diplomat, as presidential candidate once again. It has made her arguably the most qualified candidate in US history.
The surprising, impressive success of Sanders, who had his own key wins on Tuesday, has made that clear. There's an ire and a disgust in the body politic — they fuel his campaign just as they do Donald Trump's — and they're built on a belief that the system is rigged, the status quo is unacceptable and its guardians are untrustworthy.
Clinton is poorly positioned to mollify that rage, and the reason isn't just coziness with Wall Street. It's her familiarity, her celebrity, her crowd. She's political royalty, and she can put the crown deep in a closet; she can renounce it all she wants. There are voters who will still see it there.
And oh, the baggage she carries! Many more Americans have an unfavorable impression of her than a favorable one: In a Quinnipiac University poll from early February, the split was 56 to 39 percent.
She conquers that … how? By introducing herself better to voters? They know her plenty well. By unveiling yet another new image? It's hard to imagine there are any permutations left.
And now the theory is that she's overexposed? Cool.
Bruni says it is "hard to imagine there are any permutations left," which is not only a neat way of implicitly accusing Clinton of inauthenticity and inconsistency, but also a neat way of ignoring that, while there are policy reasons to oppose Clinton, many of the people who oppose her, especially the ones relying on bullshit shorthands like "she's too familiar," aren't opposing her because of policy, but because she's a woman.
A woman with "a crown," as Bruni notes, while failing wholly to even obliquely consider the misogyny in that statement, no less the aggressive misogyny that is wielded against her by voters and the media.
Of course there are no "permutations" left, because Clinton cannot stop being a woman.
Bruni then pivots to Clinton's unlikability, because of course, and how it will make it difficult for her to beat the super likable Donald Trump:
To attain the presidency, a politician needn't be adored — just less loathed than the alternative.Wow.
In that same Quinnipiac poll, Trump's unfavorable to favorable ratio was even worse than Clinton's: 59 to 34 percent. Her supporters and advisers are accordingly crafting a strategy of brutal negativity and relentless attacks, as The Times reported earlier this week. Envisioning that, David Plouffe, who managed Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, said that a Clinton bid would be less "hope and change" than "hate and castrate."
Nope, no misogyny there. No trading on antifeminist tropes about feminist women being castrating bitches.
And let us consider what it means that a prominent Democratic strategist describes Clinton (potentially) going after Trump for being an abusive shitlord as "hate and castrate."
Trump has literally advocated war crimes, which is merely the tip of the noxious iceberg that is his eliminationist, marginalizing, hateful rhetoric. That's not hate, but criticizing him for it is? And attempting to strip him of the power he gets from advocating violence and displacement and racism and misogyny is "castrating" him?
Cool calculations, bro.
I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it eleventy million more times in the foreseeable future: That the media's favorite game is destroying Hillary Clinton and their favorite entertainer is Donald Trump is fucking terrifying. Their glib fuckery is going to carry fascism straight into the White House.
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On a side note, I have read so many pieces recently by people who have worked with Hillary Clinton, talking about what a lovely person she is. Three this week alone:
Former Governor of Vermont Madeleine Kunin: "I've known Hillary and worked with her. She can be serious and funny. She inspires fervent camaraderie in her staff. She is the most intelligent woman I have ever met."
Breaking Down Barriers Mother Sybrina Fulton: "It was a very heartfelt meeting. It was supposed to be pretty short in the beginning, but because of the topics and the tragedies and the things that were being discussed, Secretary Clinton wanted to hear more. The meeting was very productive on our end as mothers. But it was also an eye opener for Secretary Clinton, because now, not only did she hear about these tragedies in the news and on social media and from her staffers, she heard first-hand from the mothers. And she's a mother. She's a grandmother. She's a wife. She's a woman. She related to us at a time when nobody else would listen."
Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau: "I had the chance to serve in the Obama administration with someone who was far different than the caricature I had helped perpetuate. The most famous woman in the world would walk through the White House with no entourage, casually chatting up junior staffers along the way. She was by far the most prepared, impressive person at every Cabinet meeting. She worked harder and logged more miles than anyone in the administration, including the president. And she'd spend large amounts of time and energy on things that offered no discernible benefit to her political future—saving elephants from ivory poachers, listening to the plight of female coffee farmers in Timor-Leste, defending LGBT rights in places like Uganda. Most of all—and you hear this all the time from people who've worked for her—Hillary Clinton is uncommonly warm and thoughtful. She surprises with birthday cakes. She calls when a grandparent passes away. She once rearranged her entire campaign schedule so a staffer could attend her daughter's preschool graduation. Her husband charms by talking to you; Hillary does it by listening to you—not in a head-nodding, politician way; in a real person way."
I have read pieces like these for years. Long before this election, there were pieces written by folks about how great it was to work with and/or for her at State, and before that in the Senate.
And I'm sure there are people who haven't enjoyed working with her. But there are an incredible number of people who have. And say so. Publicly.
While, on the other hand, there are precious few horror stories of working with someone who's supposed to be History's Greatest Monster.
Members of the media who discuss her "likeability" ad nauseam know that these stories exist as well as I do. If they cared about doing their jobs, they'd explore why it is there exists this vast cavern of "likeability" between the people who work with her and the people with the choice to vote for her.
Of course, that would require some uncomfortable self-reflection, since they're the ones busily creating the caricature of The Monster in the first place.