Check out CNN.com for Bill Clinton’s vent about how a “cover up ” is hurting Hillary Clinton’s chances of becoming the Democratic nominee. This is a man who has trampled on his spouse’s voice every time, in this campaign, that she’s found it.
The women of The Nation are the first to deplore the sexism in media commentary this primary season, but a “cover up”?
Hillary Clinton started this race last year as the one to beat–she had the money, the machine and the name recognition that assured her of quasi-incumbent status. And, indeed, she ran as a quasi-incumbent, an establishment candidate in a change- year election. Yes, there were the Chris Matthews and the Tucker Carlsons and the Mike Barnicles and the Rush Limbaughs and the women who were working out their Clinton hatred through Hillary’s candidacy.
Betsy Reed’s superb May 19th cover story, “Race to the Bottom: How Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Has Divided the Feminist Movement,” documents those sexist remarks–and explains how Clinton’s campaign has divided the feminist movement. But Clinton’s losses cannot be attributed solely or largely to a sexism that still runs deep in our political culture.
Clinton made the mistake of running a top-down campaign in a rules-changing year, and acceding to a sexism within her campaign that advised her not to apologize for her disastrous vote supporting Bush’s war resolution. Yes, she was in charge. She could have rejected the guys’ advice. But Clinton appears to have bought into the idea that a Commander-in-Chief has to play by “men’s rules”–and be tougher than the toughest. If she’d been smart and right, not strong and wrong, how in her right mind would she not have said, I made a mistake when I accepted the word of a man who, it is now widely accepted (except in FoxLand), lied us into a war that has gravely undermined the US’s security? John Edwards managed to issue an apology–and he was dueling with a media that had pegged him as “the Breck Girl.” Could it be that macho boys like Mark Penn and Bill Clinton counseled Hillary that if she issued honest regret she wouldn’t be macho enough to be treated as a serious Commander-in-Chief?
If Clinton had listened to alternative voices –if there’d be some “woman- commen-sense” over in her campaign–they might have suggested that she reframe what a commander-in-chief for the 21st century means. That what’s needed to deal with the challenges of this world is not more militarism amd macho swagger, but a commitment to smart, principled use of non-military tools. After all, how does military might address genocidal conflicts? Or the worst pandemic in world history (AIDS)? Or staggering and destabilizing global ineqality? Or, for that matter, the spread of weapons of mass destruction?