Monday, May 19, 2008

Yes, there CAN and WILL be a woman president...

...but it may not be Hillary Clinton.

As I've said before, I was never totally sold on La Hill as a presidential candidate, but she didn't repulse me either. At least not in 2007, as the great presidential free-for-all began and assorted Republican wannabes turned their attention from Reagan hero-worship in one debate to relentless Hillary-bashing in another. Seriously, you wanted to see La Hill get the nomination and win the election if only to make wingnut brains explode. Even if it was, frankly, hard to defend her.

The thought of Hillary Clinton as a tough-minded, pragmatic politician was pretty exciting. But instead, we are confronted with the reality of Hillary Clinton as pander-prone, distaff Dem version of Mitt Romney, willing to say that the sky was mustard yellow if it would ensure her a shot at the Oval Office.

Hillary is ruthless and ambitious; this is true of just about every politician, male and female. She may be corrupt and willing to say anything to be elected; this is true of every politician as well--including Mitt, the moderate Republican from Massachusetts, who inexplicably found himself the darling of the wingnutosphere, while the traditionally conservative McCain was scorned.

The knee-jerk loathing of the Clintons has always been puzzling. He can't keep it in his pants, and in personal affairs he lacks the sense God gave a dog. She is, as mentioned before, ruthless and ambitious, and probably has more in common with Eva Peron than with Eleanor Roosevelt. Nonetheless, you have to feel bad for her given the repulsive misogyny she invokes in mainstream, mostly male commentators and pundits--misogyny that is an accepted part of political discourse.

Writes Marie Cocco:

I will not miss the deafening, depressing silence of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean or other leading Democrats, who to my knowledge (with the exception of Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland) haven't publicly uttered a word of outrage at the unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York. Among those holding their tongues are hundreds of Democrats for whom Clinton has campaigned and raised millions of dollars. Don Imus endured more public ire from the political class when he insulted the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Would the silence prevail if Obama's likeness were put on a tap-dancing doll that was sold at airports? Would the media figures who dole out precious face time to these politicians be such pals if they'd compared Obama with a character in a blaxploitation film? And how would crude references to Obama's sex organs play?

Cocco forgets that Obama's candidacy has brought out the ugliest kind of racism in the right-wing fringe. For examples, see Dave Neiwert. And that doesn't even include the anti-Muslim "Barack Hussein Obama" smears or the recent Obama '08 T-shirts with pictures of Curious George. But Cocco is correct when she points out this racism has been soundly condemned while Hillary-inspired misogyny is tolerated. Still, La Hill's own proxies have tried to prop her up as a candidate through racist rhetoric. Only a rabid Hillary partisan could defend that.

As an on-and-off feminist, I'd be pleased as punch if the US had a female president--but only if she were a really impressive, inspiring candidate. Hillary Clinton, alas, is neither--not with her slipshod campaign, tactical slip-ups, odious race-baiting, and efforts to curry favor with the very wingnuts who loathe all things Clinton (Richard Mellon Scaife, for example).

The saddest thing about the Hillary Clinton of 2008 is her "if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em" mentality. Americans are tired of that, but apparently certain Beltway/DLC types are not. Barbara Ehrenreich says it best:

Hillary Clinton smashed the myth of innate female moral superiority in the worst possible way -- by demonstrating female moral inferiority. We didn't really need her racial innuendos and free-floating bellicosity to establish that women aren't wimps.

With a quick review of the last eight years, you can find plenty of other examples of this same moral inferiority in women: Condoleeza Rice, Mary Matalin, Ann Coulter, Karen Hughes, Michelle Malkin, and Gale Norton, for example. Of course, La Hill, unlike the aforementioned women, is a Democrat and a liberal. Democrats and liberals are supposed to be soft-hearted, sympathetic, nicey-nice milquetoasts who'd rather negotiate than fight. This is an old, discredited right-wing frame, but Hillary didn't realize this. Instead, she tried to out-Repub the Repubs. And she didn't realize that her party (and most Americans) are pretty much fed up with all things Republican.

Over at the NYT, they're trying the focus-group approach to predicting the next female candidate for president. A few names have been bandied around whenever the topic comes up: Janet Napolitano, governor of Arizona; Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas; Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas. (Actually, it would be terrific if Obama were to pick Napolitano or Sebelius for VP.) But perhaps America's first woman president is someone nobody's heard of yet--after all, in 2004, Obama himself was just a senate hopeful.