Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hillary's "Feminism" and Hillary's Friends

(Photo: Maureen Dowd, NYT)

Hillary's "Feminism":
(or jump to "Hillary's Friends")

Over at Atrios' place a while back, I took a lot of flack from another poster who accused me of misogyny because I expressed doubts about Hillary's values and effectiveness, as if anyone who opposes the potential first female President must be doing so because they're an antifeminist. I countered that a true feminist would expect a female candidate to be evaluated without regard to gender. After all, most of us didn't like Reagan's BFF Margaret Thatcher, right? Was that misogyny? And was it anti-feminist to celebrate when liberal Labor's Tony Blair took over 10 Downing Street (back before he became Bush's lap puppet in Iraq, of course)?

So it's nice to read this in Maureen Dowd's column (note: she's a feminist!) in today's NY Times:

[In a speech in Iowa, Hillary said] that “there is one job we can’t afford on-the-job training for — that’s the job of our next president.” Her aides confirmed that she was referring to Obama.

Pressed to respond, Obama offered a zinger feathered with amused disdain: “My understanding was that she wasn’t Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, so I don’t know exactly what experiences she’s claiming.”

Everybody laughed, including Obama.

It took him nine months, but he finally found the perfect pitch to make a trenchant point.

Her Democratic rivals had meekly gone along, accepting her self-portrait as a former co-president who gets to take credit for everything important Bill Clinton did in the ’90s. But she was not elected or appointed.... And the part of the Clinton administration that worked best — the economy, stupid — was run by Robert Rubin. Hillary did not show good judgment in her areas of influence — the legal fiefdom, health care and running oppo-campaigns against Bill’s galpals.

She went on some first lady jaunts and made a good speech at a U.N. women’s conference in Beijing. But she was certainly not, as her top Iowa supporter, former governor Tom Vilsack claimed yesterday on MSNBC, “the face of the administration in foreign affairs.”

She was a top adviser who had a Nixonian bent for secrecy and a knack for hard-core politicking....

Obama’s one-liner evoked something that rubs some people the wrong way about Hillary. Getting ahead through connections is common in life. But Hillary cloaks her nepotism in feminism.

“She hasn’t accomplished anything on her own since getting admitted to Yale Law,” wrote Joan Di Cola, a Boston lawyer, in a letter to The Wall Street Journal this week, adding: “She isn’t Dianne Feinstein, who spent years as mayor of San Francisco before becoming a senator, or Nancy Pelosi, who became Madam Speaker on the strength of her political abilities. All Hillary is, is Mrs. Clinton. She became a partner at the Rose Law Firm because of that, senator of New York because of that, and (heaven help us) she could become president because of that.”

UPDATE, FEB. 9, 2008: Pauline Park at The Visible Vote has similar thoughts on this topic, in a good essay entitled Gloria Steinem & the Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton. Her whole post is worth reading, but here's a teaser (emphasis mine):

[T]he single act that has arguably had the most impact on the lives of women — and African American women in particular — over the last decade is the so-called Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which Bill Clinton championed and signed into law. It is no coincidence that the welfare ‘reform’ act had the full support of Newt Gingrich and the right-wing Republicans to whom Bill and Hillary Clinton handed control of Congress in 1994, because the welfare ‘deform’ law (as many progressive activists call it) was straight out of the Republican playbook. The Clintons played into the discourse of poor women of color as ‘welfare queens’ and the Clinton administration’s policies not only did nothing to help them, Clinton policies deepened poverty among poor women of color and their children. The PRWORA had and still has the full support of Hillary Clinton, which tells one all one needs to know about Hillary’s politics. And yet, this is the kind of politics that Gloria Steinem apparently considers feminist and progressive — which demonstrates clearly that neither Gloria Steinem nor Hillary Clinton are either feminist or progressive.

Hillary Clinton also served on the board of Wal-Mart while the corporation engaged in massive and systematic discrimination against women and people of color — something else that, in my view, fails to qualify Hillary as a feminist or a progressive. *** [Note from Thersites: article about HRC's boosterism of WalMart here.]

The false feminism that Clinton and Steinem articulate is one in which the mere election of a women to elective office is held to be an intrinsically transformative moment. But having lived for two years under Margaret Thatcher’s iron-handed rule, I can assure you that Thatcher was no feminist and her election represented no victory for women, let alone for feminism. It is no coincidence that Ronald Reagan called her “the best man in England.” ... Maggie ... wielded power just like a man, and if anything, was tougher and more ruthless than any of her male predecessors — which is, of course, precisely how she rose to the premiership and how Hillary will seize the Democratic nomination this year if she does succeed in capturing it.


Hillary's Friends:

A good way to judge a person's character is by the enemies they make and the friends they embrace. Cicero said, "A friend is, as it were, a second self." So who are Hillary's "second selves," those whose support she has not rejected and who therefore give us insight into who her true "self" is?

- Fox News owner and arch-conservative Rupert Murdoch, who threw a fundraiser for her Senate re-election (which really was a fundraiser for her Presidential run, since she already had plenty of money and her re-election was secure). Every other Democratic candidate would have told Murdoch to go to hell.

- Henry Cuellar, "D"-TX, who's so conservative that he sat on the R side of the aisle during the State of the Union and enthusiastically hugged Bush afterward with the stupidest look of glee on his face.

- Jane Harman, "D"-CA, who knew about the administration's warrantless wiretapping program for years, supports it, and berated the NY Times for daring to tell the American people that their government is spying on hundreds of thousands of them in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

And we can now add both George and Laura to the chorus of bad people supporting Hillary, which sure suggests they know either (a) she's the most beatable in the general election, or (b) she's as pro-corporate as they are, and won't seriously rock the boat in ways that matter most to the brokers whom most of Washington serves (I favor this second interpretation). Dowd again:

President Bush is not so enamored of Obama’s foreign policy judgment. He gave a plug to Hillary on ABC News last night, calling her a “formidable candidate,” even under pressure, who “understands the klieg lights.” ... Laura Bush also gave Hillary a sisterly — and dynastic — plug when she told the anchor that living in the White House and meeting people everywhere would be “very helpful” to a first lady trading up.

I've had my doubts about Obama, but if George Bush thinks Obama's foreign policy is bad, it must be great. And if George and Laura, Henry Cuellar, Jane Harman, and even Rupert Murdoch support Hillary -- and she accepts their support! -- then there's something really wrong with her, and it's probably wise to run away. Fast.



Anonymous said...

Since when do politicians run away from the support of people (unless they are convicted felons)?

Anonymous said...

Why limit it to convicted felons? Lots of politicians have rejected the support of people they choose not to be associated with; for instance, can you think of any politician of any stripe who would accept the endorsement of the Klan? Or the American Nazi Party? Would Hillary accept the endorsement of the Right to Life League, or McCain of Planned Parenthood? Of course not. So, yeah, politicans run away from some people's support for ideological (and practical) reasons all the time. As Hillary should have done in some of these cases.

But more to the point is this: why are these particular people supporting Hillary? Cuellar and Murdoch wouldn't support a true liberal in a million years -- so why her? I posit two reasons:

a) If she gets the nomination, the Republican can beat her (see earlier post on those polls); and
b) If she does win the whole thing, she'll play ball with the big corporations and make sure that her liberal impulses are spent on things that the money interests don't really care about.

Either way, their support suggests she's someone to be wary of.

Anonymous said...

this just in!

Murdoch's NYPost endorsed Obama this week. I'm afraid I don't know what's going on (note that the National Review put Obama on the cover and lavished praise on him this week as well)

So...does that mean Obama is now seen as the 'easy to beat' one?

Is Murdoch just trying to make sure he has some access to power no matter who gets elected?