It’s already starting.
Hillary Clinton would have us believe her presidential candidacy is not about her being a woman. It’s about her being the most qualified and most experienced person in the race. Purportedly.
But that wasn’t the message delivered at a Concord, New Hampshire rally on Feb. 6 where Clinton appeared alongside former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (who served under Clinton’s husband) and iconic feminist Gloria Steinem. Albright, using a mantra she’d also uttered in the past when meeting with other distaff world diplomats, stated:
There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other.
The predominantly pro-Clinton audience cheered heartily. Clinton herself, standing right next to Albright, cackled with laughter. And the video footage of Albright’s comments went viral. Bernie Sanders then defeated Hillary Clinton by twenty points in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary. I’m not attributing the Sanders victory directly to Albright’s comments. Sanders had the momentum on his side in New Hampshire well before that one single rally.
Rather, Albright’s uppity demeanor is symptomatic of a larger problem. Much of Clinton’s support is not based on her legislative accomplishments (which were minimal), her presidential platform being innovative (which it isn’t), or her diplomatic record while U.S. Secretary of State (which Republicans have so artfully politicized due to Benghazi).
No…it’s based on a prevailing attitude from many women – and some men – that American women, in general, should vote for Hillary because “it’s time for a woman to finally be in charge.” Following the blowback from her comments, Albright “apologized”…with what was essentially a “non-apology.” She stated:
I did not mean to argue that women should support a particular candidate based solely on gender. But I understand that I came across as condescending those who disagree with my political preferences.
Yet, Albright had made those comments specifically at a Hillary Clinton rally. And, in her same New York Times “apology,” she went on to describe how sexism still persists in social and institutional realms. Albright also followed it up by admitting she’s targeting her message to younger generations of women at a time when a major political party has a viable female presidential candidate.
Her “apology” was akin to someone who “apologizes” by saying “I’m sorry you feel that way” – rather than saying “I’m sorry for what I did.” Compare that to the recent flub made by Gloria Steinem…who was also standing on-stage with Albright and Clinton, that same day. During an early-February appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher, Steinem had tried to rationalize the cross-gender appeal of Bernie Sanders by opining, in reference to young female Sanders supporters:
They’re going to get more activist as they get older. And when you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys?’ The boys are with Bernie.
Steinem also felt the backlash. She almost immediately apologized, claiming to have “misspoke.” I don’t believe for one second that Steinem “misspoke.” I think she blurted out exactly what she was thinking. But, unlike Albright, at least Steinem owned her actual comments by acknowledging the toxicity of them.
Albright, by contrast, is trying to gloss over her own haughtiness by playing the gender card for sympathy. It’s an aura of snobby indignation exhibited by many Democratic or liberal-leaning women of her generation. This is all the more laughable since so many of these women claim to be “progressives.”
A tiny little problem with that: aren’t progressives the ones declaring how they have more substance and less antipathy, in general, compared to conservatives? For her part, Hillary Clinton came to Albright’s defense. She referred to the Czech-born former diplomat’s one-liner as a “light-hearted but very pointed remark.”
Clinton herself has peppered her 2016 presidential campaign with similar rhetoric. She constantly discusses women’s issues; then she follows it up by verbally firing that magic bullet: Well, wouldn’t the best way to solve problems of particular concern to women be by having an actual woman in office?
Or some variation of that.
I agree with Clinton that it’s important to talk about the “glass ceiling,” gender pay inequity, and how gender bias permeates so many other areas of Americans’ daily lives. But she would serve that conversation a lot better by sticking to specific, real-life examples. Not a default position oozing generalized undertones of how “having a woman in the White House will make everything better.”
This attitude is presumptuous on its face. Voters can base their candidate choices on a variety of factors aside from genitalia. To name just a few: sincerity, professional background, bipartisanship, ethics, cultural sensitivity, articulation, religious conviction, debating skills, ideological emphasis, philosophical approach, or the candidate’s overall message.
In her New York Times op-ed published last week, Maureen Dowd opines that Hillary Clinton “believed that there was an implicit understanding with the sisters of the world that now was the time to come back home and vote for a woman.” Dowd theorizes that this sense of entitlement snowballed after Barack Obama used charisma and a positive message to become the first person of color elected to the presidency. Now, eight years later, Clinton believes she is owed what was “taken away from her” in 2008. She and her acolytes desire to break the “glass ceiling” in much the same way Obama was able to cross racial barriers.
Dowd also alleges hypocrisy on the part of liberal and progressive Clinton supporters. She points out how leftists excoriated Clarence Thomas during the Anita Hill controversy – but they conversely made excuses for Bill Clinton during the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky scandals. The driving force of this dynamic, according to Dowd, is that liberal women embraced a double standard because they felt President Clinton represented their political interests better than Justice Thomas.
I do believe there’s some truth to Dowd’s theory. Now, personally, I could care less about the Lewinsky-era sex scandals. I just wish Hillary Clinton would stop making smug, vague allusions to her gender…and start talking about practical ways to prevent another financial meltdown, strengthen America’s various employment sectors, rectify specific laws that are racist or sexist, and reignite educational funding in all fifty states.
Instead, Clinton has presented a platform that is rather bland and lacking specifics on those fronts. I understand that she wants to juxtapose her own platform as more realistic, moderate, and achievable vis-a-vis than that of Sanders. But it doesn’t give her free license to skimp on the details.
Hillary Clinton is still likely to be the Democratic presidential nominee. If she’s elected in November, she needs to be held accountable for the quality (or lack thereof) of her proposals and decision-making. After all, wouldn’t we already expect the exact same thing from a male politician?
But the gynocentric ramblings of Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem – as well as random female citizens who echo those sentiments – reflect a much larger culture of excuse-making that many leftist women still shamelessly cling to. Whining about “Bernie Bros.” Being apologists for Clinton-esque deception. Branding anyone who offers any criticism whatsoever of Hillary Clinton’s policies as “misogynistic.” Aren’t these reductionist tactics nothing more than a pathetic crutch used to avoid personal responsibility?
Doesn’t the Left insist that it’s supposed to be better than that?