Hello Antigone Readers,
Not to interrupt Amanda’s fantastic reports from New York, but rather to give her a day off from her hectic duties as delegate and blogger, I direct you to this article in this weekend’s Globe and Mail.
The piece is, I think, one of the more nuanced treatments of Hillary Clinton’s campaign efforts. It is also, thankfully, unwilling to write her off because of her s0-called “tearjerker.” Since Clinton is not often emotional in public, the instant she becomes so she is immediately criticized for stage acting–something her competitors certainly needn’t fear, particularly since it would be only too disaffecting for a male to cry on (inter)national television. I may be biased here–in fact, take this as a warning, I am biased–but I don’t believe that Hillary’s so-called performance in New Hampshire should a/effect her supporters’ votes. I personally am inclined to trust Clinton before Obama. In most cases, when I watch them debate, while Clinton is not the picture of authenticity–indeed, she is often reserved and difficult to read–she is always clear and forthright. I would call her “sincere” without much hesitation. If she isn’t comfortable with an idea, or can’t make a promise, she simply will not address the issue–she will tell you what she will do, not what she might do. Listening to her, I don’t feel like I’m being subjected to rhetoric at the expense of all else, which with Obama I sometimes experience.
What I appreciate about Sinclair’s treatment of Clinton here is his exploration of the community in which she was raised and the ideal of “woman” she grew into. In order to compete, Clinton developed an iron-clad public persona, and certainly, I would suggest this served her well during her career as first lady.
Another thing the article illustrates well is Clinton’s pursuit of her policy programs to the exclusion of all else. Sinclair observes that during her husband’s tenure as president she pushed her health care reform bill to the displeasure of some democrats, causing an internal division in the party and allowing the republicans to take the house. While such an attitude is certainly not good for party unity, it is refreshing to see someone stick to their ideals: Mr. Dithers Hillary is not.
“She doesn’t play the game — and I admire her for that — but it’s hurt her,” acknowledges Jo Luck, the head of Heifer International, a humanitarian aid organization whose eco-friendly office complex abuts the William J. Clinton Presidential Library on the banks of the Arkansas River. “She sees what’s needed in the world and she does it. She’s not running a popularity contest. She’s never run a popularity contest.”
One of the ironies in this contest is that when Ms. Clinton first plotted her candidacy, she doubtless viewed herself as the agent of change, a trailblazer in the mould of Ms. Ferraro who could make history by becoming the first woman to gain the presidency.
Instead, she encountered Mr. Obama, a charismatic and silver-tongued rival with a competing, and equally powerful, claim to history, which would put the first African American in the Oval Office. If he lacks her experience, he is also free of the burden of perceptions she has shouldered since her days in Washington.
“I wish she could come across as a little bit more of a ‘bring us together’ voice,” Ms. McCoy says. “But she is a litigator — you can’t change a leopard’s spots. … And is that necessary? To really like our leaders?”
Another skilled Democrat, Bill Clinton, might say so. He famously remarked that Democrats prefer to fall in love with their candidates, while Republicans prefer to fall in line. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, his words appear to be ringing true.
So what do we say now of Clinton’s flagging campaign? What does this mean for women’s future in American politics? Is this a reflection of her personal “obstreperousness” (to use her word), or is is indicative of a larger distrust of female leadership as “soft.” I would say it is probably a combination of both; Clinton has unfortunately come up against a silver-tongued, personable presidential hopeful whose claim to the office is equally as legitimate, if not historically more so, than her own–her timing could not be worse. However, it is unlikely we will see another woman candidate in the near future with credentials and experience akin to that of Mrs. Clinton’s. Gaining the “hearts” of democrats may prove to be ultimately illusive for female candidates while the double edged sword of American media dissects the woman’s public persona as inauthentic. The question is, who owns that stereotype in the first? Stereotypes don’t make for good lovers…