Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary's Speech

Can someone please shut up these Hillary-haters who just can't let go before they do serious damage to Obama's candidacy? There probably aren't any more of them than there are Hillary-diehards who intend to stay home or vote for McCain, but it's they, and their friends in the media--not Obama, or the Clintons, or anyone seriously involved in the political process--who are driving away Clinton's supporters and jeopardizing a Democratic win in November.

Hillary gave a fine speech and most recognized that. It was the best she could do for Obama given the circumstances and given the followers she needed to impress. If she were fawning or exhibited the contrition and self-agnegation her critics wanted she would have been less likely to win their hearts and minds and that speech wouldn't have done the job it was supposed to do.

The subtexts in the hostile comments I've read are infuriating:

"Hillary should have made this speech in February--and dropped out." Women shouldn't apply for jobs when there are men around who can do them. Back in February we saw that Obama was a viable candidate so Hillary should have dropped out. Women are a reserve army: we want them doing what would otherwise be men's jobs in wartime or in other circumstances when there aren't men around to do these jobs, but when there are men who can do the job women should bow out gracefully.

"Hillary was egotistical and self-referential: her speech was all me, me, me." One "me" from a woman in one "me" too many. Women should be altruistic, supportive and always put others ahead of themselves. Competing with Obama was in and of itself a violation of the code. It doesn't matter why Hillary ran: she should have apologized for trying to get the nomination for herself instead of supporting Obama--or some other viable male candidate.

"Hillary's still scheming: her speech in fact subtlely undermined Obama." Women are always scheming. They're manipuplative and you can never take what they say at face value. They're always looking to entrap or undermine men."

"I'm sick of the Clintons' psychodrama. We want pretty, plastic Barbie and Ken dolls--not people who've seen life and have the scars to prove it. We want a perfect, smiling, updated Ozzie and Harriet family.

"Hillary is really a conservative, on board with the Republican agenda, who wants McCain to win." Conservative = Old; Progressive = Young, pretty and cool. We want the old people out and the young people in.

I don't think it's much of a stretch to find these subtexts and, more importantly, I think these are the subtexts that Clinton supporters are reading. If Obama's groupies don't shut up, he's going to lose support in what is, incredibly, looking like a tight race. The media are continually reproducing the meme of angry Hillary supporters throwing a monkey wrench into the works--which is itself starting to look like a self-fulfilling prophecy--but haven't paid any attention to the damage these disruptive Obama groupies are doing.

And there's yet another offensive subtext in that: "Boys will be boys, and the young can be indulged. It's those hysterical old harridans that are being obstructive, disruptive and spoiling everyone's fun. Shut up, get back to the kitchen and bake cookies--and stop bothering us."

No comments: