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Web Letter

Pollitt writes utter and complete nonsense. " Clinton showed herself to be tough, tireless, supersmart and definitely ready to lead on that famous Day One"? Indeed?

By running a campaign that will be studied for years for its ineptness? For campaigning on hypocrisy, opportunism, smears and racism? The notion that "misogyny" reared its ugly head is as phony as the "Iron my shirts" incident engineered by the Clinton campaign itself.

Funny how "misogyny" failed to become an issue until Clinton was losing, whereupon she discovered it--after she vanquished seven male contenders! Funny how media commentators leaped on "misogyny" -- in order to avoid discussing the ongoing racist tactics of the Clinton campaign. And funny how the Obama campaign adjured sexism, unlike the Clinton campaign's relationship with racism.

Clinton certainly has inspired America's young women: they now know they have to be decent, intelligent. knowledgeable and ethical; they will not gain office through dirty tricks, backroom deals, stance-shifting, and riding a man's coat-tails. And the country is better for it. Hillary is gone; long live the cleaner aftermath.

Michael Anderson

New York, NY

Jun 7 2008 - 2:07pm

Web Letter

As a middle-aged woman, I'm amazed at the depth of the anger by Clinton supporters and some of the examples they use to show bias. But here's the sentence in the story that is very telling: "It's incredibly important for Clinton to do the right thing and rally these women to Obama, and I wish I felt surer that she would rise to the occasion."

And why don't you feel surer? It's because Clinton has done everything in her power to undermine her rival's chances of winning and she was aided and abetted by women's organizations. The disgraceful non-concession speech was just a rallying cry to her supporters--supporters that she knew damn well were threatening to vote for McCain.

It saddened me that members of Congress had to intervene just to get her to concede to Obama. Can you imagine the criticism a man would have taken had he not acknowledged his opponent's victory?

Niamh Sanders

Nashville, TN

Jun 7 2008 - 12:29pm

Web Letter

Out comes Katha Pollitt, The Apologist. Never fails. I'll give Hillary Clinton "a standing ovation" when flying pigs soar over a frozen Hell. Politt says Clinton didn't lose because she's a woman, after spending five paragraphs implying that's exactly why she lost. Gimme a break.

To quote Maya Angelou, a vocal Clinton supporter, "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. People will never forget how you made them feel." This trenchant observation about human nature sums up HRC's Achilles' heel from the moment she declared. It's no accident that her negatives have been so high and so polarizing across the country. After an ambitious cipher and poseur hijacked the White House for eight years, the last thing the electorate wanted or needed was an ambitious opportunist and egomaniac, no matter her gender, no matter how smart and politically ruthless she may be.

I believe character is fate. Obama exudes real character, his comparative inexperience notwithstanding. The nation craves a leader with deeply embedded character, principles, ethics, commitment to his family, his children and all Americans, to the rule of law, to the Bill of Rights, to the Constitution. HRC seems primarily committed to HRC, to her presidential inevitability, her "entitlement" to follow in the glamorous footsteps of her putative husband (has anyone cared to notice or comment on the fact that in all the televised moments of Bill and Hill, they only hug, but never, ever kiss even on the cheek, let alone on the lips... sorry, this may be an enduring partnership, but it's not a real marriage, and that makes a lot of Americans feel manipulated and very uneasy).

Ms. Pollitt, spare me the instant analysis of Hillary's gauntlet of misogyny. If it had been Barbara Boxer out there, things might have been very different. It was Hillary, and things went the way they were supposed to, just like the movies. The good guy, who happens to be black, won.

Stewart Braunstein

Deerfield Beach, FL

Jun 6 2008 - 10:18pm

Web Letter

Pollitt gives a decent description of the sexist, woman-bashing brutality aimed at Hillary Clinton, by the MSM, bloggers, and competitors, including Barack Obama. Obama's "finger," "periodically," "brush off," snubbing, and sexist reference to a plant worker and TV reporter as "sweetie" belies his smarmy sexist attitude to females. Never once did he denounce the "bros before hos" Ts; never once did he publically insist the misogynist treatment of his opponent cease. Real leadership and a "pro-woman" candidate would have called for this treatment to stop, if for no other reason than he has two young daughters. Are they hos? Are they bitches? Not once did he display "pro-woman" leadership, and to the contrary, he participated in the sexist treatment of Hillary, and therefore all women.

You're correct that Hillary's candidacy has brought the sexism out of the closet, and the idea that this country is "post-sexist" or "post-racist" must be some self-deluded state of mind possessed by coastal-living, latte-drinking trust fund brats. At least the delusion of that fantasy has been ripped to shreds. Racism and sexism are very much alive and well in the interior and heartland of this nation. The sexism is in no way the fault of Hillary Clinton, nor anything she has done or said. No woman ever should be treated in that manner. It is, as nicely expressed by another reader, a fact that men are still fanactical about the destruction of powerful women, and that speaks volumes about how this country socializes males.

That you ask Hillary's supporters to view Obama as pro-woman and believe he has women's interests at heart is ludicrous. His rhetoric may mesmerize and enchant, but his actions in this campaign, and his inactions regarding the treatment of Hillary by his campaign surrogates, speak louder than words.

Right now, Hillary Clinton is the most powerful woman in America; she can make it or break it for Obama, and he and his campaign most surely know that. She will do what is best for the Dem party, but he needs to show some respect at this point. Apologizing for failing to insist his supporters stop the misogynistic treatment would go a long way to healing the gut wounds in the party. Maybe that's what she is insisting upon during this week post-primary season. Aretha sang it nicely: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Charlotte Downey

Eureka Springs, AR

Jun 6 2008 - 7:46pm

Web Letter

Leaving aside the laddish misogyny, it's instructive to see what pissed off the "respectable" sexists, viz. the fact that Hillary didn't "graciously" drop out when a viable male candidate emerged.

This is an old story: women as a reserve army of workers. Women are supposed to fill in when there aren't men around to do the job but graciously go home when there are men who are willing and able. Those that don't want to go are castigated as "selfish" and, if possible, booted out. So kudos for those women who filled in at defense plants during WWII and then graciously went home, or went back to lousy pink-collar jobs, to make room for returning GIs. According to a survey by the Women's Bureau after the war, over 80 percent of these women said that they would have preferred to keep their wartime jobs if they could.

Then there's the even older story: girls are "allowed" to play sometimes, but when the score is tight, they're supposed to retire to the bleachers and cheer the boys on. Women's participation is an indulgence we can't afford when the going gets tough, and women who insist on staying in the game are obstructive. So Susan Faludi notes that after 9/11 there was a surge of sexist sentimentality about the macho male heroes and female victims, and the pitch that even if the country could afford to indulge women when things were going well, we couldn't afford it in times of danger.

The primaries are over. This issue isn't why Clinton lost, or whether she should have lost, but the old, old themes that emerged during this campaign that deserve some serious consideration.

Harriet Baber

Chula Vista, CA

Jun 6 2008 - 7:44pm

Web Letter

Katha Pollitt may be right in one small sense: Hillary Clinton may have made it easier for women to run for high office--super-wealthy women.

As for the the rest of us, she a was a disgusting, self-seeking, psychotic set-back, shameless in her willingness to say anything in order to gain the right to do nothing (at best), or (more likely) kick more sand on more poor people, who remain disproportionately female.

Pollitt's unenlightening triteness, meanwhile, remains one of the main reasons I very often don't read my copy of the magazine. This is the best feminist columnist you can find?

Michael Dawson

Portand, OR

Jun 6 2008 - 5:11pm

Web Letter

It's true that by being the first credible female candidate for the presidency, Senator Clinton became the target of an unbelievable wave of misogynist slander. Nobody can now say we live in a post-sexist wonderland and the next credible female candidate will have an easier time of it. Sadly, though, Clinton engaged in dishonesty by claiming she won the popular vote, treachery by claiming McCain to be more prepared for the presidency than Obama, and cheating by trying to steal the Michigan and Florida delegates (which she agreed would not be counted) for herself. Worse, her campaign slandered Obama at every turn as a turban-wearing possible Muslim, Reagan-loving Republican, incompetent affirmative action candidate, America-hating '60s radical/black nationalist, and privileged elitist. Her use of Joe McCarthy-style guilt-by-association (as with Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright) was stunning in its cynicism. In a show of sore-loserdom, she withheld her concession and congratulations on the night of Obama's victory. She has so poisoned Obama's image in the minds of her loyal followers that thousands or millions of her fervently feminist supporters are likely to support McCain, a candidate who opposes a woman's right to choose and doesn't even believe in equal pay for equal work. And one can't repeat often enough that Hillary supported Bush's war in Iraq, a war that's killed untold thousands and turned the clock back on women's rights by decades if not centuries in that ravaged land. Some voters may be less likely to vote for women after witnessing Clinton's shameful and unforgivable behavior; let's hope their numbers are small.

Alvin Orloff

San Francisco, CA

Jun 6 2008 - 3:08pm

Web Letter

Apparently feminists like Katha Pollitt do not think that Hillary Clinton should be held to the same standards as male politicians.

A lot of the negative press coverage had to do with things Senator Clinton actually did and said. She refused, time and again, to acknowledge Senator Obama's victories and even declined to endorse him on the very last day on which primaries were held. She ran a commercial depicting Senator Obama with darker skin than he in fact has, and ran another with a picture of Osama bin Laden in it. She voted for the Iraq war and refused to admit it was a mistake. At one point she said Senator McCain is better qualified to be President than Senator Obama.

Would Hillary Clinton even have been in the position she was in had her husband not been a former President? Highly unlikely. As a matter of fact, she entered the Democratic primaries with every conceivable advantage: a 2-to-1 advantage over Obama in fundraising, brand-name recognition, a party machine that backed her, the support of PR bigwigs like Mark Penn and a network of allies, peers, and colleagues that was in every respect formidable.

Obama won not because of rampant anti-female sexism, not because people in the media harbor anti-Hillary animus but because he ran a smarter, more frugal, more inclusive campaign. He was more charismatic. He came across as more authentic and human. He opposed the Iraq war long before it became popular to do so. He was right on the issues.

It is a real shame that there are women who dislike Senator Obama for no other reason than that he outshined Hillary Clinton.

Jay Nunn

New York, NY

Jun 6 2008 - 2:24pm

Web Letter

I am unbelievably tired of all the characterization of anti-Hillary activities and statements being construed as anti-woman.

Wake up, people! There is ample reason for people who like women to not like Hillary! Face it, much of what you have seen and heard is what Hillary has brought out in people dating back to at least 1992.

Ken Burnside

Lake Jackson, TX

Jun 6 2008 - 2:02pm

Web Letter

Katha, your publication stands to take some of the blame for this too. I hoped for so much better from The Nation, which never missed an opportunity to rigorously apply a double standard in this campaign. Clinton got a pounding from every single one of your columnists, no matter what she said, while Obama got only praise or the random whimpy disclaimer that his position, whilst not perfect, was somehow superior to hers.

At no point did any of your writers seriously analyze Obama's glaring deficits, his ephemeral voting record, his questionable personal associations or his nebulous political background.

At what point did anyone at The Nation cry foul when Obama mimed the "brush-off," referred to her and then scratched his face with a middle finger (I was there and saw the crowd's reaction--that was not unintentional); made comments like "periodically, she gets a little down" or talked about the "china flying"? Not even once. If (for example) Hillary had referred to Obama as "tap-dancing" around an issue, your publication would have laid into her à la Olbermann.

None of you has clean hands here. Nice work. I won't be renewing my subscription.

Susan L Petry

Durham, NC

Jun 6 2008 - 1:59pm