Monday, January 07, 2008

Tears of a Crown

I'm with LaSalle on this one; in fact, I've been pretty sick of this "can't win for losing" narrative on HRC for some time. That such a sentiment could overcome my usual solid "couldn't happen to a nicer person" vibe gives an idea of how old it's getting.

But it's part of the narrative arc the kewl kidz have circumscribed for her in their slam books. They built up her veneer of inevitability all summer, when it was never there to begin with. Now that they realize that it was not there, and that given the sheer length of time, it was bound to change, they default into tear-down mode. And now she's the second coming of Ed Muskie. These people are pathological.

Except when it comes to Poor Ol' Straight Talk, then they can't line up to snorkel his wrinkly crazy junk fast enough. Most of 'em don't even need kneepads, so eager are they for the job.

One thing to keep in mind about the HRC hate, that doesn't get talked about much, and there's an analogy of sorts to it in the abortion debate. A frequent meme peddled by feminists is that it's the evil penisocracy that's keeping womyn down. This is not exactly true; many of the most committed, vitriolic pro-lifers are women. Like I tell the wife, "Hey, we can't do it without your help, you know. You're 51% of the population -- how can we do it all by ourselves?".

Well, it's the same with repressing women in Islamic countries, and it's the same with pillorying Hillary. Women are much more adept at undermining other women than men can ever hope to be. Whether it's the stereotypical southern belle passive-aggressively cursing a loathed rival with a catty "bless her heart", or a more strident urban professional reifying her disempowerment by vicariously living through someone else's life or career choices, it happens more often than people like to admit.

And while I refuse to sit through endless chat-show reiterations of this horseshit, I will confidently bet my left nut that many of the more pointed pronunciamentos on What It All Means when a chick cries in public will be uttered by the likes of Norah O'Donnell, while Tweety leers down her top and tries to think of a diplomatic way to speculate that maybe it was just that time of the month. Keep her away from the red phone!

This nation does have a great deal of growing up to do with regard to perceived gender roles, but it is important to recognize that both genders have substantial parts in perpetuating those stereotypes.

And hasn't Edwards blossomed into quite the little cockpuncher? If he can get the nomination or a running-mate nod, he's going to be a pit bull in the general campaign. Somebody has to be.

[Update: The Rude Pundit puts the whole dynamic very aptly, I think. The whole Hillary saga has this heavy vibe, the impending dread of a shotgun wedding, featuring someone who is understandably defensive after being picked on for decades, but still seems not to recognize that they've long since squandered their idealistic principles for cheap trinkets of political comity. Either you meant to vote for Kyl-Lieberman or you got rolled by the thugs again, in either case of which you have no standing to criticize them. People who cannot recognize that they've traded their moral ground (or worse yet, do recognize it but cannot admit it) are trapped in a box mostly of their own making.

HRC's unique viability has insulated her from much of this, but we are finding out that the Saint Bill cult is not quite as deep and wide as they had hoped. They would still be light-years ahead of anyone on the Republican roster, but do not promise the tectonic change that the most committed primary voters routinely demand.]


Marius said...

"...A frequent meme peddled by feminists is that it's the evil penisocracy that's keeping womyn down...."

Funny. Before the ink went dry on your electronic posting, Gloria Steinem rushed to confirm your conjecture.

I was reading her thing this morning, and I was overwhelmed by how old and tired it all sounded. Not only because, as you point out, wymyn ane equally adept at undermining their sisters, but because Republicans probably wouldn't have balked at making a woman--Condoleezza, to be precise--their favorite in this race, had she been a more ruthlessly Cheneyesque secretary. Remember that there was talk about the GOP fielding her to counterbalance the Clagina, if the latter got the nomination?

My only point is that gender isn't that much of a deal anymore, I suspect. It's the wink of ideology and access to money that decides things now in American politics.

Heywood J. said...

I think Condi's problem is that her personal life would never have passed muster with her own party. And yeah, her comparative liberalness does her no good in the party of Attila the Hun.

Steinem makes some curious observations, not the least of which is that race and gender issues are "interdependent". I don't think that's the case, though naturally those sentiments and issues have similar origins, generally speaking. Gradually the owners and faces of the power structures change, and with them those predispositions.

Gender has become a currency, much like race, though with different boundaries obviously. With race, perhaps people should consider why Obama or Halle Berry are "black" when each has one white parent. With gender, maybe people should think about why HRC is the only viable female candidate, and then only because of who she's married to. That's not a slam at her so much as a thumbnail assessment of the maturity of the process.

For a 230-year-old republic, American society is very immature in a number of respects, and gender roles is certainly near the top of that list.