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“Challenging The Patriarchal Structures”: Rather Than Shout Like A Man, Let’s Let Clinton Campaign Like A Woman

I watched over the weekend as people reacted to a post by Kevin Drum titled: Hillary Clinton Has a Shouting Problem. Let’s just say that the response he got from Hillary supporters on twitter was not kind. The standard line was that the critique was sexist because no one ever says that male candidates shouldn’t shout at campaign rallies. It’s true that he was a bit flippant about that in what he wrote.

A lot of people will take this criticism as pure sexism. Maybe some of it is. It’s not as if Bernie Sanders has a carefully modulated tone of voice, and young people seem to like him just fine. Still, fair or not, sexist or not, this is a common observation about Hillary.

Of course Drum is right, this is “a common observation about Hillary.” But before we leave it at that, perhaps we should ask a few more questions. Is it just true of Hillary, or do we react the same way when other women shout on the campaign trail? When it comes to presidential campaigns, we don’t have a lot of evidence to work with because Clinton will be the first female nominee of either major party. I remember having the same reaction to former Governor Jennifer Granholm’s shouting during her remarks at the 2012 Democratic Convention. Because women’s voices tend to be in a higher octave, their shouting is more likely to sound shrill.

But there are much bigger questions that a discussion like this could trigger. One of the mistakes feminists too often make is that we want to be judged on the same playing field as men. Personally, I think that is too limiting. A deeper feminism would challenge the patriarchal structures on which our culture is built. In the context of this critique, we can ask the question about why our political campaigns are often judged by the way candidates rev up the big crowds – which often involves shouting.

It is hard to have this conversation without referencing the campaign of Howard Dean with his shout heard round the world. As the candidate himself recently explained, what really went wrong with his campaign was his inability to shift from insurgent to establishment. He gave an example of how that happened at his big rallies.

I knew I had to make the turn. It was very, very hard and I didn’t successfully do it…It was really a tug of war. I could actually feel the tugging as I would try to do it and I would give a measured speech and the audience would be completely flat and I wouldn’t let myself leave them flat.

So Dean continued to shout to please the crowds…knowing that it signaled that his campaign would ultimately fail. That is precisely why Clinton’s campaign has developed a different strategy that plays to her strengths. She prefers smaller more intimate gatherings. A lot of women can identify with that preference. Rebecca Traister gives us an example in a great column about the complexities of Hillary Clinton.

Francine and David Wheeler are there with their 13-year-old son, Nate, and his 17-month-old brother, Matty, who’s scrambling around on the floor. They carry a stack of photographs of their other son, Benjamin, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, when he was 6. David presses the photos of his dead son on Clinton with the urgency of a parent desperate to keep other parents from having to show politicians pictures of their dead 6-year-olds.

Leaning in toward Wheeler as if they are colleagues mapping out a strategy, Clinton speaks in a voice that is low and serious. “We have to be as organized and focused as they are to beat them and undermine them,” she says. “We are going to be relentless and determined and focused … They are experts at scaring people, telling them, ‘They’re going to take your guns’ … We need the same level of intensity. Intensity is more important than numbers.”…She is practically swelling, Hulk-like, with her desire to describe to this family how she’s going to solve the problem of gun violence, even though it is clear that their real problem — the absence of their middle child — is unsolvable. When Matty grabs the front of his diaper, Clinton laughs, suggesting that he either needs a change or is pretending to be a baseball player. She is warm, present, engaged, but not sappy. For Clinton, the highest act of emotional respect is perhaps to find something to do, not just something to say. “I’m going to do everything I can,” she tells Wheeler. “Everything I can.”

Campaigns are what passes for a job interview in politics. It should come as no surprise that, in a patriarchal culture, they have been set up to function in a way that benefits the loudest male in the room (and also in a way that benefits our media culture). Assuming that women simply need to compete on that turf sells us all short because, to be honest, shouting at campaign rallies doesn’t tell us a lot about how a candidate will function in the actual job. Rather than defend Clinton’s right to shout like a man, I’d like to see us define a world where she can campaign like a woman.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 31, 2016

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Sexism, Women in Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Never-Ending Hillary Clinton Story”: Up With The Strongman, Down With The Bitch!

Although nobody sensible would choose to do it this way, America’s political fate has become captive to the TV news media’s never-ending quest for ratings. Months before the earliest votes are cast, the 2016 presidential contest has turned into a “reality TV” melodrama.

The themes are broad and simple: Donald Trump is cast as the Nationalist Strongman and Hillary Clinton as the National Bitch. Up with the Strongman, down with the Bitch! Yes, 20 other candidates are vying for attention, and somebody else could assume a starring role should these narratives lose momentum.

Even the supposedly left-wing MSNBC broadcasts Trump’s speeches live, giving the billionaire braggart free publicity that even he might not be able to afford. Whatever you can say about Trump, he gives good TV — that is, if professional wrestling extravaganzas are your idea of family entertainment.

Also, it’s always been clear that no Democratic woman, and certainly not one named Clinton, can be elected President of the United States without being designated a brass-plated bitch. Having failed to entomb Bill Clinton and drive a wooden stake through his heart, wrecking Clinton’s candidacy has become the Washington press clique’s overriding goal.

And yet the geniuses running her campaign act as if they don’t know it. Consider reporter Amy Chozick’s remarkable piece in the September 8 issue of The New York Times: “Hillary Clinton to Show More Humor and Heart, Aides Say.” According to “extensive interviews” with “top strategists” at the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters, Chozick wrote, Mrs. Clinton would be urged to exhibit empathy and humor on the campaign trail.

Such as when she recently joked, apropos of Trump’s insistence that he didn’t buy that orange thing on his head from Hair Club for Men, that her own “hair is real,” though “the color isn’t.”

Well, it seems here that everybody in Clinton’s Brooklyn office involved in the Times exclusive ought to walk the plank. Voluntarily or otherwise. The Daily Caller‘s sarcastic headline summed things up perfectly: “Hillary Plans To Be More Spontaneous.”

The idea of Clinton as a kind of political Stepford Wife, calculating and “inauthentic” to use the cant term, is so deeply imprinted in the press clique’s standard narrative that they reacted pretty much the way your dog does when you rattle his leash.

Let Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank speak for them all: “And now comes the latest of many warm-and-fuzzy makeovers — perhaps the most transparent phoniness since Al Gore discovered earth tones.”

Never mind that the whole “earth tones” and “invented the Internet” fiascos were malicious inventions. Caricaturing Gore as a posturing phony made it possible for make-believe rancher George W. Bush to become president.

So how is it possible that Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, one of two staffers quoted in the Times by name, couldn’t see that coming?

Another Clinton staffer confided that although the candidate would emphasize income inequality, she’d be “scrapping the phrase ‘everyday Americans,’ which wasn’t resonating with voters.” One mocked it as too much like Walmart’s “Everyday low prices.”

Presumably, the campaign will choose a more tasteful slogan from Tiffany & Co. or Bergdorf Goodman.

Esquire‘s always understated Charles P. Pierce calls Clinton staffers “a writhing ball of faithless snakes,” more concerned with advancing themselves than electing her. Do they not grasp that wrecking her candidacy is Priority One at the New York Times?

Indeed, no sooner had Clinton made a rote apology for the manufactured email “scandal” than staffers “who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations,” hurried to the same Times reporter to emphasize that they’d been urging her to kiss the news media’s collective feet for weeks.

Supposedly, Bill had resisted the idea on the grounds that she hadn’t done anything wrong. Supposedly too, he urged staffers to try harder to make that clear.

Based solely on her appearance on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC program, I’d say the aforementioned Palmieri — President Obama’s former communications director — couldn’t explain how to pour sand out of a boot with the instructions printed on the heel. Her speech mannerisms make her difficult to follow, and she talks in circles.

The Clinton campaign needs to send out more spokespeople like former governors Howard Dean and Jennifer Granholm, who are capable of clarity and forcefulness. Here we are months into this pointless debacle and it’s left to the Justice Department to state that Clinton’s email arrangements were legal, proper, and presumably known to everybody in the Obama administration who sent her a message.

And, oh yeah, that business about how Clinton’s obsessive secrecy caused her computer’s server to be wiped of all data? That was false also, as Bill Clinton apparently wanted the campaign to say all along.

So spooks in places like the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (seriously) now say emails sent in 2010 should be made Top Secret in 2015?

Isn’t that like getting a traffic ticket in the mail from a town you drove through last month because they dropped the speed limit last week?

And if it really is as absurd as that, then shouldn’t somebody say so?

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, Featured Post, September 16, 2015

September 20, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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