Peggy Noonan has aptly designated Hillary Clinton’s charges that she has been a victim of sexism as balderdash, comparing her to Thatcher, Gandhi and and Meir. It is sad to see a woman who has aspired to stature at times diminishing before our eyes. It is a Nixonian eclipse with all that that implies. Here’s a brief excerpt from Noonan’s Wall Street Journal piece, which bears reading in full.
So, to address the charge that sexism did her in:
It is insulting, because it asserts that those who supported someone else this year were driven by low prejudice and mindless bias.
It is manipulative, because it asserts that if you want to be understood, both within the community and in the larger brotherhood of man, to be wholly without bias and prejudice, you must support Mrs. Clinton.
It is not true. Tough hill-country men voted for her, men so backward they’d give the lady a chair in the union hall. Tough Catholic men in the outer suburbs voted for her, men so backward they’d call a woman a lady. And all of them so naturally courteous that they’d realize, in offering the chair or addressing the lady, that they might have given offense, and awkwardly joke at themselves to take away the sting. These are great men. And Hillary got her share, more than her share, of their votes. She should be a guy and say thanks.
It is prissy. Mrs. Clinton’s supporters are now complaining about the Hillary nutcrackers sold at every airport shop. Boo hoo. If Golda Meir, a woman of not only proclaimed but actual toughness, heard about Golda nutcrackers, she would have bought them by the case and given them away as party favors.
It is sissy. It is blame-gaming, whining, a way of not taking responsibility, of not seeing your flaws and addressing them. You want to say “Girl, butch up, you are playing in the leagues, they get bruised in the leagues, they break each other’s bones, they like to hit you low and hear the crack, it’s like that for the boys and for the girls.”
And because the charge of sexism is all of the above, it is, ultimately, undermining of the position of women. Or rather it would be if its source were not someone broadly understood by friend and foe alike to be willing to say anything to gain advantage.
My good wife, who is for Obama, has watched with some horror as the Clinton eclipse has unfolded. Clinton is not, she says, a true feminist. Had she been, she says, Hillary would have struck out on her own as the truly stronger part of the Clinton couple.
By clinging to and subordinating herself to Bill’s career ambitions, she diminished her stature and compromised her potential.
My own take is pretty simple. Clinton would have done better to run on her Senate Record exclusively and to say she is running precisely on what is hers alone, not some confusing twofer track record.
I still do not think any approach would have overcome the incredible revelation of ineptitude which her campaign itself manifested and continues to manifest. Her mismanagement and failure to grasp key tactical aspects of politics has been breathtaking.
These things said, as we enter round two, we need to be thankful that Barack is an incredibly fast and even insatiable learner. There is a vast area of learning and insight to be mastered between now and January 20, 2009.
I am not worried about the campaign or even the initial part of the Presidency. But I do believe there are avoidable pitfalls.
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