Tuesday, January 08, 2008

In Which Hillary Can't Win for Losing

Well, goddamn. The huge news yesterday was that Hillary got choked up while talking about drawing strength from the passion she feels for the country and the need to improve it. Not sobbing, blubbering choked up, but damp-eyed, quavering-voiced choked up. Oh noes, people howled, ain't that just like a typical woman to get all emotional? Can't have that in the White House.

That was followed up by this from a subsequent campaign appearance in New Hampshire:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was about to deliver a line that has become a centerpiece of her campaign since her loss in Iowa.

“Everybody in this race is talking about change. But what does that mean?”

“Iron my shirt!” yelled a man, who stood up in the middle of a jammed and stuffy auditorium at a high school in Salem, N.H., and held up a yellow sign with the same text. He repeated it over and over.

You know, iron my shirt, bitch? The sign young guys think is Teh Funny to hold up at feminist rallies? The new alternate to shut up, bitch? That one. So a couple guys hold the sign and chant the chant, Hillary handles it without breaking stride, making a reference to the glass ceiling she's trying to break through here, and... the majority of online commenters are convinced she staged the whole thing.

Yep, her campaign did plant that questioner in Iowa. Bad move. And they've committed other bits of asshattery, of which going to Barack Obama's kindergarter teacher for evidence of early presidential ambition is the most egregious example. And now she's reached the point that many people refuse to cede even a shred of credibility to any display by or against her, no matter how genuine or not-planned it might turn out to be.

Anyone remember Mitt Romney talking a couple weeks ago about being so overcome with emotion on learning that his church had decided black people are humans too that he had to pull his car over since he was blinded by tears? Did he catch any backlash on that for being too quick to dissolve into tears at the slightest provocation? Well, no, he caught hell for exceeding most people's bullshit thresholds with the elements of the story that don't conform to temporal or spatial reality. But not for the emotion itself.

I listened to a John Edwards consultant spin this on Rachel Maddow's show as proof of Hillary's unfitness for the Oval Office, and cringed as my regard for Edwards plunged straight into the tank. Well, if she cracks under the pressure of the campaign, what's she gonna do when something really big happens? Hey, Mudcat, or whatever the fuck your real name is, this wasn't "cracking under pressure." It was a wholly appropriate and in no way excessive display of patriotic emotion. It pisses me off when the front man for a candidate who positions himself--and who I believe really is--a populist falls back on the easy if dishonest meme of female=weak. Maddow was flabbergasted herself. And the dude just would not let it go.

So we would appear to have dual lessons being reinforced here. One is that the old saw your grandparents kept whacking you with when you were a kid, you know, the one that goes it's easier to maintain your reputation than to repair it? Yeah, that's pretty much true. And the other one, that holds that a woman who shows no emotion is a stone-cold bitch, while a woman who shows any emotion is a fragile, irrational creature who shouldn't be entrusted with Really Big Responsibilities? Unfortunately, that one got propped up yet again too.

By the way, it turns out that Hillary didn't stage the Iron My Shirt incident at all. A couple of Boston shock jocks did. Will her quick, on-her-feet, coolly dispassionate dispatching of them buy her back any steely resolve cred with the No Crying In Politics faction? Nope, didn't think so.

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