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“An Appalling Message To Women”: Stop Second-Guessing Hillary About Her Marriage

Ruth Marcus is a respected journalist, who has achieved an extremely privileged position in a male-dominated industry. More power to her! I’d be the last person to say she didn’t work hard to get where she is. Good on her.

But I am troubled by her recent over-the-top screed attacking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which sends an appalling message to women: Ladies, if you have a messy personal life, stay the hell off the public stage! Be forever shamed by your total humiliation! A respectable woman whose husband cheats on her must leave him — indeed, leaving him is the only way for her to regain her respectability, after an acceptable period of being ashamed of him, and ashamed of herself for ever having been with him. Darn that Hillary Clinton, she is not acting respectable! How dare she go out in public with that man!? How dare she run for U.S. Senate, serve with distinction, then go on to reshape the U.S. State Department as Secretary of State — all without leaving that no-good husband of hers. She was a shamed woman! How. Dare. She.

Ruth Marcus has been on the receiving end of media attention for her column, from this on MSNBC to this in the New York Times. Now, I know that columnists are often deliberately provocative, and I don’t expect to agree with everything that even a favorite opinion writer publishes. But I have a particularly personal reaction to this column.

Reading Marcus, I can be reminded what a loser I am. My life has been messy with many personal failures. My first husband beat the crap out of me. That was humiliating. I knew it was something that did not happen to respectable young women. I was extremely fortunate, however, as with the help and support of my parents I regained respectability by leaving my batterer. My mother and father breathed a sigh of relief and hoped I would stay on the right path. I went to law school, got good jobs and performed well. But my life kept being messy. I married again, not once but twice. Not respectable. My mother was bitterly disappointed. Ms. Marcus reminds me of her.

When my third marriage was breaking up, a friend of mine told me she believed marriage failures were always the woman’s fault. I laughed, but stopped when she said she was serious. This individual truly considered herself a friend, and so did I. I still do. I just don’t share her archaic view of women’s place in the world. Ruth Marcus’s narrow conception of what wives must and must not do is outdated in the same way.

All of which brings me round to why I admire Hillary Clinton as a woman, and why I am supporting her to be the next president of the United States. For most women, whose lives have not been perfect, Sec. Clinton’s career path — which has been marked by persistence and resilience in the face of extraordinary barriers — is cause for celebration and inspiration. When she ran for president in 2008, she was subjected to vicious forms of misogyny, but she didn’t let that chase her out of the public square. As a result, today, other women know that they don’t have to be chased out either.

The good news is that the vast majority of women aren’t interested in second-guessing Sec. Clinton’s decisions about her marriage. To paraphrase Sen. Bernie Sanders, the public has no interest in that ancient history. Most people consider former President Bill Clinton to be more than the personal actions he regrets and has apologized for. As adults living in the 21st century, we are able to agree or disagree with him on policy without clutching our pearls and fantasizing about some dress.

What women voters do care about is whether our next president will enact policies we need more than ever — a higher minimum wage, an expanded Social Security system, paid family leave, racial justice initiatives that include girls and women of color, access to safe, legal abortion care and birth control, and recognition of civil and human rights of LGBTQIA people. I don’t agree with Sec. Clinton on everything, but I do know that she listens and responds to people who disagree with her. And I especially admire her strength in the face of the hate and nasty attacks that come at her from all angles.

Thanks to Ruth Marcus, we have been schooled once again in the old rules of how wives are supposed to behave. But thanks to Hillary Clinton, there is a brighter future for women leaders.

 

By: Terry O’Neill, President, National Organization for Women, The Blog, The Huffington Post, January 6, 2016

January 10, 2016 Posted by | Domestic Violence, Hillary Clinton, Women | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Triumph For Presidential Leadership”: Pundits; Obama’s Too Mean To Iran Deal Critics

The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, to her credit, supports the international nuclear agreement with Iran. In her new column, however, she criticizes President Obama anyway, not over the substance of his foreign policy, but for not being nice enough to the diplomatic deal’s opponents.

Obama once understood, even celebrated, this gray zone of difficult policy choices. He was a man who took pains to recognize and validate the legitimate concerns of those on the opposite side of nearly any complex debate.

The new Obama, hardened and embittered – the one on display in his American University speech last week and in the follow-up spate of interviews – has close to zero tolerance for those who reach contrary conclusions.

In fairness to the columnist, Marcus goes on to make substantive suggestions about how best to argue in support of the deal, and she concedes “Obama’s exasperation is understandable.” Her broader point seems to be that she wants to see the deal presented in the most effective way possible, but Marcus nevertheless chides the president for his tone and unwillingness to “accommodate” his foes.

She’s not alone. After the president noted that the American right and the Iranian hardliners find themselves on the same side of this fight, other pundits, including National Journal’s Ron Fournier, raised related concerns about Obama being harsh.

That’s a shame – there are constructive ways to look at the debate over U.S. policy towards Iran, but hand-wringing over presidential tone seems misplaced.

Let’s not miss the forest for the trees. President Obama and his team defied long odds, assembled an unlikely international coalition, and struck a historic deal. By most fair measures, this is one of the great diplomatic accomplishments of this generation.

For all the incessant whining from the “Why Won’t Obama Lead?” crowd, this was a triumph for presidential leadership, positioning Obama as one of the most effective and accomplished leaders on the international stage.

To watch this unfold and complain that Obama is simply too mean towards those who hope to kill the deal and derail American foreign policy seems to miss the point.

What’s more, let’s also not lose sight of these detractors’ case. Some of the deal’s critics have compared Obama to Hitler. Others have accused the White House of being a state-sponsor of terrorism. Many of the agreement’s foes in Congress clearly haven’t read the deal – they decided in advance that any agreement would be unacceptable, regardless of merit – and many more have approached the entire policy debate “with vagueness, deception and hysteria.”

Slate’s William Saletan attended the recent congressional hearings on the policy and came away “dismayed” at what opponents of the deal had to offer. Republicans, he concluded, seem “utterly unprepared to govern,” presenting little more than “dishonesty,” “incomprehension,” and an “inability to cope with the challenges of a multilateral world.”

To Marcus’ point, it’s fair to say that the president is not “taking pains to recognize and validate the legitimate concerns of those on the opposite side.” I suppose it’s possible Obama could invest more energy in telling Americans that his critics, when they’re not comparing him to Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, or both, are well-intentioned rivals.

But at this stage of the debate, there should be a greater emphasis on sound policy judgments and accurate, substantive assessments. I’m less concerned with whether Obama is being nice to his critics and more concerned with whether he’s correct.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Madow Blog, August 14, 2015

August 15, 2015 Posted by | Foreign Policy, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Pundits | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Hillary Clinton Has Only One Real Opponent”: You Guessed It, That Leaves The News Media

In a sane world, the 2016 presidential election campaign would begin about this time next year. However, the political infotainment wing of our esteemed national news media seems intent upon starting the contest ever earlier — whether voters like it or not. TV ratings and enhanced career opportunities depend upon it.

Unfortunately, Dan Merica, a CNN producer who followed Hillary Clinton to South Carolina, appears to have mislaid the script. Instead of shouting rude questions, Merica sought out an ordinary voter Clinton had chatted up in a bake shop. What had they talked about?

As it happened, they had discussed Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

A Baptist minister, Rev. Frederick Donnie Hunt had been sitting in a Columbia, South Carolina bakery reading his Bible when Clinton stopped by. “I was impressed and glad that she knew the Scripture that I was reading and studying…,” Hunt said. “It impressed me that someone running for president has that background. It is important to me that we have a president that has some belief.”

Rev. Hunt, who voted for Obama in 2008, now plans to support Clinton. “God bless you,” he told the candidate as she got up to leave.

Make of it what you will. But if you’re like me, you learned something interesting from the CNN story. Too many like it, however, and Merica’s career in Washington could be endangered.

According to a recent “political memo” by Jason Horowitz in The New York Times, Clinton’s Democratic rivals have no realistic chance. “That leaves the news media,” he opines, “as her only real opponent so far on the way to the Democratic presidential nomination.”

Well, it does have the virtue of honesty.

To be fair, Horowitz’s point is that the press clique has grown so hostile that “it makes all the political sense in the world for Mrs. Clinton to ignore them.”

He describes scenes in which reporters, bored and angered by Clinton’s strategy of traveling around and talking with nobodies like Rev. Hunt, have treated her rare press availabilities as virtual bear-baiting exercises, shouting questions of the when-did-you-stop-looting-your-foundation? kind, questions she “obfuscated…with ease,” according to Horowitz.

He provides no examples though. Readers have to take his word for it. In this carnival-like atmosphere, he adds, “it is not clear what Mrs. Clinton gains politically from playing the freak.”

Yowza!

Prompted by reader outrage, Times public editor Margaret Sullivan expressed chagrin at her newspaper’s “sometimes-fawning, sometimes-derisive tone in stories about Mrs. Clinton,” particularly that last “startling line.”

Times editors were characteristically dismissive, arguing readers had misunderstood the author’s meaning — as if it were a T.S. Eliot poem rather than a newspaper story. Believe me, I’ve been there. No matter how dead to rights you’ve got them, they’re The New York Times, and you’re not. It’s like arguing with a bishop.

A reader comment by Paul Goode of Richmond put everything in perspective: “It’s never a good strategy to patronize readers. And don’t make it worse by peddling self-interest as a profile in courage. The Horowitz piece was not only invidious; it was a not-so-veiled threat about what Ms. Clinton can expect if she doesn’t get in line.”

“Can expect”? How Clinton handles the never-ending barrage of gossip and contumely directed against her and Bill Clinton by the Washington media clique could decide the 2016 election. The Times itself, Bob Somerby notes, has all but openly declared war, and The Washington Post isn’t far behind.

Last Sunday the Times printed a 2,200-word opus by Deborah Sontag about Bill Clinton’s appearance at a fundraiser for Czech model Petra Němcová’s Happy Hearts Fund; the piece must have set a world record for fact-free insinuation.

A one-time Sports Illustrated cover girl, Němcová started her charity, which supports Third World kindergartens, after a near-death experience in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Clinton spoke at Němcová’s event in exchange for a $500,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation, which was to be spent on a joint project building schools in Haiti.

Since Němcová doubtless looks a lot better in a bathing suit than anybody in the Times’ Washington bureau, you can probably guess what the insinuations were. Sontag even found a Columbia professor who pronounced the event “distasteful,” without saying why.

Forgetting about Ronald Reagan’s $2 million speaking fees, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus (a Hillary Clinton fan, she claims) nevertheless uses the Yiddish word chazer to describe her. “It means ‘pig,’” she explains, “but has a specific connotation of piggishness and gluttony. This is a chronic affliction of the Clintons.”

This is what Clinton is up against. Her opponents could call for abolishing Social Security and appointing Jim Bob Duggar to the Supreme Court, and the character assassination would never end. Everybody knows the script: “Hillary’s what my sainted mother would have called a false article, insincere, untrustworthy, out for herself and nobody else. She thinks she’s better than you.”

Anyway, people always say they hate this stuff, but then they pass it on.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 3, 2014

June 4, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, Hillary Clinton, News Media | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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