Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hillary Hate

I read this sort of thing, and it just makes me want to tear my hair out:

Friends Allie Landers, Jenna Smith and Marina Galkina echoed Ramirez. The three stopped by to get a glimpse of Clinton. But they headed for the doors just a few minutes after they got there. They're Obama supporters.

"I think it's really hard that you're campaigning for change -- Clinton's been using that word a lot too -- when, if you were elected, then the past presidents would be Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton," said Landers, 21.

Added Smith, also 21: "I'm from New York. I think Hillary has done a good job as a senator, but it was just her stepping stone. And, for some reason, for whatever reason, I just don't like her."

One cannot accuse Ms. Smith of over-thinking her feelings about Clinton. Truth is, a lot of people feel the way she does. They "just don't like her." Ask why, and they'll say "I just don't." Then they'll cite to some mumbo jumbo about something she supposedly did during Bill's presidency, or as a Senator, or how they think she's a phony or a fraud, or how they just don't think she's very likeable. But what they won't do is get right to the heart of what they think is wrong with Hillary Clinton, either because they don't want to admit it or (more likely) they're not even aware of it and aren't eager to explore it. Fortunately, thanks to the tireless writing of Bob Somerby, we have a example numero uno of Hillary "hate" in the form of Chris Matthews at MSNBC. Here's Somerby:

Until the day he’s made to stop, Matthews will continue his sneering remarks about Clinton. He’ll call her “Dukakis in a dress.” He’ll say she reminds him of “a stripteaser.” He’ll pretend, as he did last Thursday and Friday, that Bill Clinton has called her an “uppity woman” (text below). These sneering, gender-based comments and insults will be available each evening on Hardball. And this worthless man will sing the praises of the twin virile saints, John and Rudy. He insulted Gore for twenty straight months until he got George Bush to the White House. (“Al Gore would lick the floor to be president.” “Al Gore is Clinton’s bathtub ring.” ) And make no mistake—he’ll degrade and sneer at Hillary Clinton for as long as it takes.

That's not an uninformed opinion. If you don't believe me, go to Somerby's blog and search for "Matthews Hillary Hate" and see how many of his posts you get back. Hint: it's a lot, each one documenting in detail some tasteless, crass, inappropriate and sexist smear that Matthews has made about Hillary Clinton. So do you think Matthews just has a problem with Hillary? Or do you think there's maybe a little more to it? Somerby again:

Matthews has had obvious on-air problems with women dating back to the late 1990s, when he would savage liberal women who challenged his rants against Clinton and Gore. (Remember him? The last nominee we refused to defend?) During this same epoch, of course, Matthews would fall all over himself with praise for his darling, the Faire Lady Willey, who would periodically arouse his admiration with her bizarre accusations on Hardball against the pet-killer, Bill Clinton.

(In August 1999, Matthews gave Gennifer Flowers a full half-hour to accuse both Clintons of serial murders. “You're a very beautiful woman,” the long-term nut-case said at one point. “And I have to tell you—he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that. Hillary Clinton knows that!” “Gosh, you’re making me blush here,” the chanteuse replied, briefly putting murder charges on hold. Matthews came right back at his guest: “It's an objective statement, Gennifer. I'm not flirting. So let's go on.”)

Mattews most certainly has issues with women which, as noted above, manifests itself thusly:

But by far, Matthews’ most consequential expression of this problem in the past year was the stream of gender-based insults he directed at a major presidential candidate—at a certain "strip-teaser," "giggling girl" "uppity woman"—earlier in 2007. (In recent months, he has dialed this back a bit. He may have done this because some of us complained, while most of us notably didn’t.) And now we get to our accusation: The liberal web was amazingly tolerant of that disgraceful conduct by Matthews—when it was being directed at Hillary Clinton. Maybe we'll wait seven more years to complain, the way we did with Candidate Gore. Maybe we’ll wait until we get peeved about Giuliani’s mad war.

Do you think Matthews is the only one who feels that way? That everybody else who hates Clinton or "just doesn't like her" has taken a long, hard look at her policy positions and public statements and determined that there's something in her, some character flaw, which entitles them to dislike her? I don't. By the way, Matthews isn't the only one. Glenn Greenwald takes aim at the campaign press, who are collectively as strangely motivated as Matthews:

Yesterday, The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut -- in an item oddly headlined "Clinton Joins the Girls on the Bus" -- described how Hillary Clinton boarded the press bus that follows her around, brought bagels and coffee for the reporters, and delivered some pleasant remarks about what a great experience Iowa has been. But Kornblut pointedly noted that this was Hillary's "first and only [time] on board the bus since she started campaigning almost exactly a year earlier," and Kornblut noted that the press corps sat "in silence" until Hillary left.

That report led to this exchange today with The Post's Lois Romano:

Washington: I just read on The Post's Trail page that Clinton dropped by the press bus to drop off coffee etc. and was met with cold silence. Wow. Even after 15 years, why is there so much press hostility towards the Clintons? If it turns out to be McCain vs. Clinton (my current guess) in the general, the difference in press coverage between these two is going to be as staggering as it is depressing.

Lois Romano: I was struck by that as well. I have covered Hillary Clinton off on and for 15 years and I've never seen anything that stark happen. While there is a tense relationship between HRC and the media, I'm not sure why the reporters on the bus wouldn't have tried to take advantage of her appearance and ask some good questions. All she could do is refuse to answer them. It's not for the press to be hostile to Clinton -- it's the media's responsibility to cover her.

For all the talk about the complex ideological, economic and other factors that shape our horrendous political press coverage, it is always important to remember that so much of it -- as Romano's accurate comments highlight -- is attributable to the adolescent, self-absorbed, herd-like behavior of the reporters who travel around with these candidates. Those whom they like personally -- the ones who flatter them or otherwise trigger their desire to be liked -- receive reverent coverage, while those to whom they're personally hostile receive the opposite.

For the press corps, the people who are lauded for their supposed objectivity, politics is indeed personal. More:

Greg Sargent yesterday noted that The Politico's Ben Smith was apparently present for this event as well. This is what Smith wrote about it:

Hillary stepped onto the parked press bus in Indianola for about 90 seconds to deliver bagels and coffee, and I'm not sure what this says about Clinton and the press — the chill, I think, comes from both sides — but it was a strange moment. . . .

. Nobody even shouted a question, whether because of the surprise, the assumption that she wouldn't actually answer, or the sheer desire to end the encounter.

One reporter compared the awkwardness to running unexpectedly into an ex-girlfriend.

"Maybe we should go outside and warm up," said another, as Clinton exited into the freezing air.

Hillary is the cold, frigid ex-girlfriend they all want to avoid. Do they ever think about anything without reference to some high school cliche?

Another reporter, Michael Shcherer at Time, goes way out of his way to answer that question with a resounding "no", when he compares the GOP debate to high school, where McCain has "always been the coolest kid in school", Romney "is the overachiever, the do-gooder, the kid in class who always does everything right" and Huckabee "is the class clown with the weight problem everyone likes, who always seemed to have his heart in the right place." And no, it's not satire.

So for Matthews Hillary is a "stripteaser", and for the campaign press, Hillary is the "cold, frigid, ex-girlfriend they all want to avoid." So yes, their issues with Hillary most assuredly have something to do with the fact that she's a woman. In fact, it has everything to do with the fact that she's a woman, as the men on the campaign trail are simply not held to the same standard.

And I guarantee you that the Hillary "hate" out here among us commoners is also motivated by the fact that she's a woman. If she desires the Presidency too much, she's "power-hungry" or "ambitious" or afflicted with "megalomania" or she's "inauthentic." Even her laugh (Frank Rich proving that not all of this nonsense comes from the right) and her clothes are fair game for criticism, and reflective of her power hungry personality and unfitness for the office of President. She's (gasp) "calculating" (an emotional moment "remind[s] people that this woman is all about calculation" says un-biased political analyst Michelle Malkin.)

The strangest thing about all this Hillary hate, is that there are a lot of people who don't feel the same way about her. Even after over a decade of these sorts of attacks, Hillary's success in running for President indicates that there are a lot of people who don't have these weird hang-ups about her. It just seems like the people who don't like her, really don't like her...as evidence above.

To be frank, this is all crap. Hillary hate is largely about her sex (and smarter people than me feel the same way.) Who among the men running for President now is not ambitious, or hungry for power? Our current President is afflicted with one of the most moronic-sounding laughs of all time, but Hillary "cackles" (like a witch...how clever!) Obama could show up to a debate wearing jogging shorts and t-shirts and the press would laugh, but if Hillary shows a little too much cleavage fierce debate ensues (the reminder that she might actually be a woman under her tough exterior seems to appall people the most; how dare she rub her womanhood in their face?)

So, you who are not of the right who profess to "hate" or who "just don't like" Hillary Clinton, I'm calling you out. (Those of you who are on the right; well, let's just say I wouldn't expect anything other than blatant sexism.) Please try to explain to me how your dislike, distrust or aversion to Clinton has anything to do with other than her being a woman. Cite to examples of things you've seen or read about her doing or saying, that would also make you dislike her as a male candidate. I'll be waiting.

UPDATE: Via Lawyers, Guns and Money, Kerry Howley with more on the sexist double-standard Hillary battles:

Add to this useful list of the worst jobs in the world: consultant to any candidate with breasts. Show emotion and you’re weak; show strength and you’re a collection of servos. Respond to attacks with emotion and you’re “angry.” Respond with equanimity and you’re cold and distant. Shy from war and you’re too feminine to lead; embrace it and you’re the establishment’s whore. And the worst thing you can do? Acknowledge, in any way, shape, or form, the existence of sexism in these United States.

Indeed. In fact, Andrew Sullivan regards such acknowledgment as "victimology", which Obama "transcends." If Hillary fails to transcend sexism, it is only because she is not permitted to by frat-boy jokesters who think yelling "iron my shirt!" at a campaign rally is funny, and by commentators such as Sullivan who think that reacting to sexism is playing the victim.

UPDATE II: Jeff Taylor (one of Howley's co-bloggers at Hit & Run), as if sensing an opportune moment to engage in the tried-and-true Clinton stereotyping, also demonstrates that no emotion that Hillary displays can possibly be authentic. Though is article is hardly as interesting as the one in which Andrew Sullivan diagnosis Hillary with something called "Salieri-Mozart syndrome."

UPDATE III: Via James Wolcott, here's Tom Watson for more. I won't go so far as to hold Obama responsible for not saying something about any of this nonsense (this is politics, and he is trying to win an election and all) but for the rest of it, I think he's on target. Wolcott, for his part, is annoyed by the over-the-top rhetoric of some of Obama's more fervent supporters, of which this piece by Ezra Klein (who I like) is an unfortunate example (something else I also don't hold Obama responsible for.) For a more rational and reasoned assessment and endorsement of Obama see...why, our own little endorsement here!

UPDATE IV: In his post today, Glenn Greenwald informs readers that the love-fest between the media, conservative pundits and Obama won't last five minutes longer than it takes Hillary to drop out of the race. Only time will tell, but I'd put money behind Greenwald's claim.

UPDATE V: Huckabee, of all people, rises to Hillary's defense.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I am an ardent Hillary supporter and it really infuriates me when people say that that "hate her" and that she's "arrogant" or "emotional." I think Obama is a good candidate, but I find it sad that many are writing Clinton off based on the misconceptions which you have explored.

jane said...

"Do you think Matthews is the only one who feels that way?"

Check out Andrew Sullivan, whose hatred of Hillary is content-free foam-flecked rage.

He convinced me to support her.

Obama-mania is a delirium tremen of the pseudo-punditocrazy. This too shall pass.

Nat-Wu said...

As Xanthippas has blogged on already! Check it out.

Nope. It's not the pundits who love Obama, it's the people, and for all the right reasons. Not because he's "young and fresh" and all that crap but because he has the guts to defy those who think that negotation with enemies is a sign of weakness (such as Bush and Hillary Clinton). If Clinton will act as "tough on terror" as Bush does, we don't need her. If Clinton won't but is saying she will, we don't need her. Obama will do neither, and that sounds like he's got a hell of a lot more principles and guts than Clinton. TWM aren't the only ones who've seen this. If you think Clinton's got an easy nomination ahead of her as soon as people get over his "glamor", think again.

Oh, and supporting someone simply because someone you hate hates them doesn't sound like good reasoning to me. Case in point: Adolf Hitler hated Stalin.

Xanthippas said...

Indeed, I've already written about Sullivan's bad case of Clinton Derangement Syndrome here:


And included some more of his fine work in updates to this post. I almost wrote about him again last night, but laid off lest I be accused of having Sullivan Derangement Syndrome.

See, I think Adam is write to point out that some of the voters in NH must have reacted to the media criticism of Hillary over the last few days, where they accused her of crying in a segment in which a plain idiot could see she was not crying, and accused her of "cracking" when all she did was try to demonstrate a little emotion. So I understand that instinct. At the same time, if I were in NH, I would have still voted for Obama because, like Nat-Wu says, voting for someone to express displeasure with someone else is a poor way to pick a candidate. But for people on the fence, I'm sure it helped a little bit.

What's most infuriating about it is, as Howley points out in the post I linked to, Hillary can do nothing right. If she emotes, she's being "inauthentic." If she is stodgy and controlled, she's a "robot." She can't win...which of course is exactly the result that some of her cynical right-wing critics desire. I don't think Sullivan falls in this group. I honestly think he's been suckered by the Clinton hate, just like he was suckered on the war, though I don't know if he's ever going to turn around on Hillary like he did on the war.

Jane said...

I look forward to reading Xanthippas' analyses of Sullivan's ravings. There is never enough Sullivan bashing.

"Oh, and supporting someone simply because someone you hate hates them doesn't sound like good reasoning to me. Case in point: Adolf Hitler hated Stalin."

That's not my reason for voting for Hillary.

My point is that the media demonization forced me to take a closer look at both her and Obama. I concluded that she was superior.

You want specifics? 1) Health care. Hillary's plan is better and 2) Obama, who is supposedly the Wise Man who Opposed The War, is in favor of invading Pakistan "in case there are nuclear terrorists there."

Well, here's news for you: there are nuclear terrorists in Pakistan, and we're not going to invade. This is a very delicate situation. As Hillary wisely pointed out in the last debate, we would have to coordinate any military action with India.

"Nope. It's not the pundits who love Obama, it's the people, "

Buffery and bloviation. What people? We haven't even had primaries in big states yet.

Obama's got a free ride from the press. Should he get the nomination - and he might - the Republicans will Swift Boat his relationship with Jeremiah Wright up the wazoo. Then they will ridicule his near-complete lack of a resume. Then they will dig up his Luo relatives in Kenya, who are engaging in ethnic butchery.

And who knows what else....a

Nat-Wu said...

Health Care? Despite what's been said, there's not a whole lot of difference in the plans, and I think Obama's is better.

How can you bag on Obama because he wants to secure Pakistan? Your version is a little misleading; the quote I recall has him saying he wants to cooperate with the Pakistani government to rid Pakistan of Al-Qaeda. And if they don't cooperate he'd use force anyway. Our fight against Al Qaeda is futile without curtailing them in Pakistan. 2 reasons: 1, because that's their base to carry out an insurgency in Afghanistan and 2, that's their base to carry out further attacks on the US itself. Furthermore, he's not talking about stationing troops in Islamabad, he's talking about securing the mountains which Pakistan and Afghanistan share, in which we believe Osama Bin Laden to be hiding. The fears of nuclear retaliation are mightily overblown, unless you think they're going to attempt to use nukes on our troops in their mountains.

Plus which, talk about a case of the pot calling the kettle black. You're slamming Obama for talking about taking action on a real security issue when Clinton is trying her best to sound as hawkish as Bush on Iran? When Obama opposed both the war in Iraq and military action against Iran? I think Obama has demonstrated his better judgment on national security already.

What people? The people who voted for him in Iowa and New Hampshire. Unless you're saying that neither of those states really count, in which case you can't demonstrate any support for Clinton either. So they're pretty much tied, or they're pretty much tied, either way you look at it.

Obama's had a free ride from the press? This is the guy who was widely (and erroneously) reported as having attended a madrassah! Sure, they're going to attempt to swift boat him. But you seriously don't think they're going to do that to any Democratic nominee? They will! The only difference, which you kindly point out for me, is that they'll use different lies against each (they'll truck out Whitewater again, just watch). So what? Both campaigns, I'm sure, will be expecting it, and I'm sure both campaigns will respond effectively. We all know that while the lies about Kerry were nonse, it was his poor response that made the difference to the average voter.

If you're telling me not to vote for Obama for that reason, it goes just as well for Clinton.

You can read our earlier post endorsing Obama if you really want to hear why we support him. And if you want to argue it further, I'd appreciate moving that to the appropriate post, not continuing it in this thread, as it has gone almost completely off-topic.

Concerned brother said...

Hillary hates men but has had to endure Bubba's incessant parading of girl toys in front of her.

This has made her a control freak who continually stabs herself.

I don't get her. She thinks socialism will heal her Poppa complex.