Hillary – my two cents’ worth

The Democrats seem to be going to their usual lengths to lose the next election, bogging their own primary down in squabbles between Hillary and Obama which has both of them at their worst for reasons explained by Clive Crook.

From my distance I wouldn’t know, but I think Karl Rove is licking his chops at getting Hillary as the Republicans’ opponent. Edwards would presumably be the safest bet. And Obama – well I reckon he could do really well – I see him as the heir to (Bill) Clinton’s brand of triangulating politics.

Hillary’s problem has always been her charmlessness and her aggression is unlikely to endear her to the great mass of American voters.  I think women have some quite substantial advantages as well as some disadvantages in politics.  If I was a woman in politics trying to accentuate my advantages, the last thing I’d do would be to be as aggressive and combative as Hillary is being.  It may work to mess with Obama, but I think it’s a mug’s game if you want to win the big one.

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Oracle
Oracle
13 years ago

“Hillarys problem has always been her charmlessness and her aggression is unlikely to endear her to the great mass of American voters. ”

Hillary’s problem is her husband. It leaves a big question mark over her character, fairly or unfairly.

Helen
13 years ago

Philly, get a grip. Charmless men (Howard, Rumsfeld, Jeff Kennett, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and the list goes on) are welcome to be as charmless as they want. That shows a commendable go-for-the jugular instinct so necessary in politics as they and their forbears have set it up. However, when a female politician exhibits the same instinct for the jugular, she must demonstrate her fuckability as well. Because god forbid a woman in public life, even if post-menopausal, should fail to demonstrate proper, fuckable, deferential, male-pleasing persona. You have completely failed to grasp that in addition to doing your job, you need to maintain your attractiveness to men, otherwise you will be turfed out toute de suite and everyone will remark on how fundamentally unsuited women are to such a “tough” position.

I hope I have made myself clear.

jc
jc
13 years ago

My problem is that I think she maximises the chances of getting another Darwin denying, warmongering, Republican class warrior as President.

really?

Romney? Rudi? McCain?
Or you mean Huckeby who doesn’ stand a chance of winning at all.
In any event this is not a religious right crowd on the whole.

McCain is the most likely candidate and he’s hardly in that category.

Hillary voted for the war along with McCain.

Just an aside.
Seeing you brought up Darwin, it would be interesting to see just how many on the left truly ascribe to Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest and how it reconciles to social welfare. My bet is that most would begin to align with the new earth “theory” very quickly :-)

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
13 years ago

“However, when a female politician exhibits the same instinct for the jugular, she must demonstrate her fuckability as well. Because god forbid a woman in public life, even if post-menopausal, should fail to demonstrate proper, fuckable, deferential, male-pleasing persona.”

Really? Helen Clark has convinced the electors of NZ to return her as PM on three occasions without the slightest recourse to fuckability. In fact much of the NZ power structure from immediate past GG to Chief Justice is determinedly female and seemingly equally determined to prove that overt sex appeal is not a pre-requisite for competent governance. While some people do bang on about the the sex appeal of federal parliamentarians like Kate thingo, there are many women of a certain age in the chamber who appear to be as unremarkable in the phwooar stakes as the rather more numerous blokes that surround them. When the ALP did recently appear to run one female candidate largely on her va voom appeal, voters seemed more interested in checking out her less than impressive policy detail comprehension and she didn’t get up.

I don’t deny that stereotypical gender perceptions still do have a part to play but it’s equally the case that strategic waving of the gender-bias shroud can effectively work to de-legitimise any criticism of Hillary’s political style. BTW, all the “charmless men” you named, allegedly free to be “as charmless as they want” – implicitly, without effect on their ability to exercise power – have actually lost power. And Bronwyn Bishop goes on and on and on. Go figure , as Hillary might say.

Helen
13 years ago

That may indeed not have been an insurmountable obstacle to Clark, Thatcher, Meir (your use of their first names is telling, BTW). But it doesn’t prevent numerous social commentators in the US media from trying their best to put Hillary’s gender up front and centre, and ridicule her thereby.

I repeat, “charm” should not be a necessary tool in a female politician’s armoury if it’s not necessary for a male politician. Or, conversely, it should be just as necessary for a male politician, if it’s legitimate.

Helen
13 years ago

In other words, I’m objecting to women politicians being made to jump through extra hoops that male ones are not required to, if I was not making myself clear.

jc
jc
13 years ago

But it doesnt prevent numerous social commentators in the US media from trying their best to put Hillarys gender up front and centre, and ridicule her thereby.

One example would do with a link if possible

Vee
Vee
13 years ago

I suspect Obama is a Republican in Democrat clothing judging by what he’s saying. I don’t believe he is interested in synthesising the two schools of thought, he just wants to be the nominee and hopefully President. Thus out of Obama and Clinton I’d have to prefer Clinton.

I also remember at Rudd’s election that their was an international movement pushing women to the forefront in politics.

Overall I prefer Edwards.

I can’t see America picking a black man or a white woman. America being as Conservative as it is I think they would prefer a man over a woman but a white person over a black one. That said I think and sincerely hope the next US President is a Democrat.

So it will be interesting to see what America decides.

mick
13 years ago

Geez, Bill Clinton goes on about Obama saying that there were some good ideas during the Reagan administration and all of a sudden everyone thinks that Obama is a Republican. The guy is a walking meme machine. You know what, the nuclear dis-armament treaty wasn’t a bad idea. Nixon recognizing China wasn’t so dumb either.

Go and have a look at Obama’s website to see where he stands on policy. He sure as hell isn’t a Republican.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
13 years ago

“Charm” – or the ability to radiate a convincing personal appeal – is an essential requirement for any aspiring politician, male or female and it has become increasingly – arguably, excessively, important in the modern era. Style over substance is frequently cited as a product of the 24 hour mass media news cycle and men are no less slaves to the exacting requirements of the charm treadmill than are women. The disturbing Mike Huckabee felt obliged to slim down by 20 kilos. Oddly, in order to radiate slimline, athletic appeal to a constituency where the lard ass is ubiquitous. Mitt Romney looks like he was constructed by a cosmetic surgeon’s convention and scripted by the advertising department of a major air freshener product.

Ironically, Hillary’s greatest liability, in this respect, is the inevitable comparison with Bill who parlayed an over-abundance of personal charm into a two-term presidency in which she played a kind of dependable, home-front policy wonk drudge to his ever-twinkling incarnation of the national Lothario. Oddly, Bill has now morphed into some red-faced, shouting dude – “because of love” Hillary unconvincingly asserts – while she, ever-dependable, is seemingly sticking to the original script.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
13 years ago

I’d hope that an expectation of charm would be an integral part of the Troppo civility policy, Jacques.

Ken Parish
Admin
Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
13 years ago

Where’s the lack of civility in this thread? It has certainly escaped me for one. Troppo’s civility rule involves being civil to each other, it doesn’t necessarily require that we avoid characterising non-participants in our discussions (like political figures) in unflattering or even abusive terms. Our discussion would be extraordinarily hamstrung if we were forced to be quite that genteel and restrained.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
13 years ago

Well, philly was a little ungracious to Nicholas but he’s probably big enough to cope.

tim
tim
13 years ago

For what it’s worth, Karl Rove resigned as a presidential advisor last year.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Helen

I hate to tell you dear, but it is precisely Hillary’s gender that has got her in this position in the first place. Do you really think if she were not MRS. Hillary CLINTON she would get within cooee of running for president?

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

The idea that we live in a society that insists women be fuckable to be electable is obscene. Who fills women’s minds with this crap? In fact, fuckable women are more likely to be seen as bimbos. Fine for gigs as weather girls or news readers, but that’s it.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
13 years ago

“For what its worth, Karl Rove resigned as a presidential advisor last year.”

Tim! It’s good to hear from you.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Vee
Your characterization of Obama is misplaced. What the US has in spades (that we don’t have) is the ongoing baby boomer vendetta that goes back to the Vietnam War. Baby boomers are trapped by it there, at least those chasing high public office.

Hillary and McCain’s race is all about that.

The only person who doesn’t seem trapped or even want to understand it is Obama. He’s the first dude in a generation who is actually fighting this race without the boomer hang-ups.

That’s why he can say he’d have Republicans in his administration and sound convincing. (by the way- I think he would).

Obama would make a truly terrific prez. He isn’t a lefty but an American liberal. He is the GOP’s biggest fear because he could actually win the race -with a good slab of regular GOP voters- and pull 45 states.

When people like Peggy Noonan at the WSJ tacitly support this guy you know there is something really going on in the electorate.

Obama needs to win for a number of reasons. Imagine for a moment young men sitting in front of TV in Pakistan watching and listening to the inauguration of a black prez who has a Muslim sounding name. Imagine what it does in terms of possibly neutralizing the venom spewed against the great Satan.

The political system in the US is now deeply divided after the Clinton and Bush presidencies. It needs to heel and you can do that only when there is a prez that even the losing side feels it has a chance of getting a hearing.

In a sense Obama could steer the presidency back to its original intent. He could very well transcend partisan politics. He would be seen as the American President- not a Democratic or GOP one.

Just as importantly he may help remove the racial divide that has always plagued American politics.

Obama needs to be the next prez of the US.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Tim:

Stop worrying about blog politics and heal thyself.

I know , hospital is pretty dull, hey? I was in there for a short tour before xmas and left before I was allowed to be discharged.

Vee
Vee
13 years ago

What do you mean by American liberal? That could be interpreted numerous ways.

Also I’m not sure what you mean by the Baby Boomer Vendetta?

I do agree that Hillary and McCain have the same drawbacks.

Reagan is a contributing factor to why I think Obama is just a right wing puppet but it is not the sole reason. It is the summative view I’m formed from other material.

What of substance has Obama shown us? It doesn’t have to be much but just one thing that we can see that he means or believes what he says.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Philly:

How about fessing up what happened with those cattle trades.

How about letting the media ask her more than one question at a time without getting shooed away by her protectors.

How about telling Bill to spend more time with his girlfriend back in Chappaqua

How about explaining her position on illegal immigration rather than having it both ways.

How about not pretending she voted against the war when she did.

How about not pretending she hasn’t all the much more experience than obama in government administration rather than thinking that sleeping with the prez passes as experience.

How about demanding the Clinton library release certain records pertaining to her function in the Whitehouse rather than hiding behind the 30 years secrets ruling.

How about asking the former prez to stop turning the primaries into a race issue.

It’s not people don’t like her becsue she’s a woman. There are enough Americans who simply don’t like her becasue of her perceived dishonesty and her intolerable divisiveness.

truly, most people could give a cracker that she has to sit down to pee rather stand. They just don’t like the person….. and it shows.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

What do you mean by American liberal? That could be interpreted numerous ways

Think right wing labor, left wing lib.

Also Im not sure what you mean by the Baby Boomer Vendetta?

the sentimaents and the politcs of that generation are still being fought out and it will continue until they die off.

I do agree that Hillary and McCain have the same drawbacks.

Hillary and McCain represent both ends of the vietnam generation.

Reagan is a contributing factor to why I think Obama is just a right wing puppet but it is not the sole reason. It is the summative view Im formed from other material.

Obama is able to cut through the bullshit and see that Reagan did have a positive contribution. Obama would disagree with nearly all things Reagan did, but not all.

What of substance has Obama shown us? It doesnt have to be much but just one thing that we can see that he means or believes what he says.

1.Intuition.
He talks about unifying the nation and the vemomous rancer may actaully qeell under him.

2. People who know him , even hardened GOP’ers that went to Harvard with him love the guy.

4. What experience does Hillary have, Bill Clinton in 92 , JFK in 60.

Frillneck
Frillneck
13 years ago

Interesting comment on Clinton and perceptions of women in the media here.

Bring Back CL's blog
Bring Back CL's blog
13 years ago

Hillary has the smarts and the staff to be president but however she has yet to show she possess the judgement that made her husband the most brilliant politician of his generation.

On the other hand assuming she becomes the democrat’s candidate I can’t see the GOP putting up a candidate who can beat her.
McCain has his age, doesn’t he look his age and Iraq,

Huckabee is unelectable, Romney has had more positions than the kamasutra and Rudy is yesterday’s news.

Moreover she is lucky in that no GOP candidate can enthuse the base to get out and vote.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

So JC and Nic Gruen deny sexism in politics and the media exists?

is it like that is it?

Like , are you still selling ice to minors, Philly?

My own opinion is people don’t give a hoot about the sex of a candidate, philly. Not any more. Hillary is immensely disliked because of the reasons I mentioned earlier.

Sorry that dog just won’t hunt but nice try at getting it out there in the field.

And if sexism does exist, then elaborate, please, why sexism, specifically in the treatment of women in politics – in this case, the treatment of Hillary Clinton – even by the slightest measure, is a figment of my hysterical imagination bearing absolutely no relationship to objective, identifiable facts.

Who knows why you are imagining, it Philly. I’m not a mental health expert so i couldn’t begin to figure the reasons.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

As someone said:

The clintons are the like the flu. They make you feel like shit.

Here’s Triple A lefty telling us what he thinks about the Clintons and how November may turn out.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/opinion/27rich.html?ref=opinion

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Philly:

And I could say the same about you in terms of you understanding of what men think.

-10 out 10 for you girly in the understanding men department. This boy-girl thing youre trying to spin is just so 80s its amusing.

I suggest a full course in men’s studies at one of the sandstones :-)

You really don’t have a goddamn clue what is happening in this election do you? There is a possibility, a strong one that we may be seeing a great transcendent, inspirational leader take the presidency. Obama if he wins the nomination of his party could actually be a world-changing event that carries meaning to all corners of the world. I am also assuming he would win the presidency with 45 states with the help of many GOP supporters. Very few people have ever had that pull.

He’s actually attracting the interests of even the most hardened conservatives.

I would never have thought that old conservative warhorse like Ress-mogg the former editor of the FTimes would be coming out for Obama. Coming out of the closet carries new meaning with Ress- Mogg supporting Obama :-)

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23120065-26397,00.html

I’m sorry but Hillary just doesn’t match up to this guy.

The “she’s a gal” routine just won’t cut with this election.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Come one Jacques. It’s ok to be a little hot and bothered at times. No one is really getting hurt or hard done by.

Caroline
13 years ago

Hmmm. FWIW I do take some small issue with a female politician being criticised for being aggressive and combative. Politics is essentially war and you ain’t gonna win by being a sweetie pie.

This, (thank you Geoff) is gold:

Ironically, Hillarys greatest liability, in this respect, is the inevitable comparison with Bill who parlayed an over-abundance of personal charm into a two-term presidency in which she played a kind of dependable, home-front policy wonk drudge to his ever-twinkling incarnation of the national Lothario. Oddly, Bill has now morphed into some red-faced, shouting dude – because of love Hillary unconvincingly asserts – while she, ever-dependable, is seemingly sticking to the original script.

And further… FWIW I kinda hope Obama wins the Presidency. I think Hillary is already so much part and parcel of the White House, knowing as she does already, its corridors, its exits and its skeleton closets she’d possibly try desperately to hold it all in check, which would be a really rather boring to watch. Obama OTOH, has more in common with Rudd, a fresh face and a person who would make a clean sweep of things.

It sure is a savage game in the US, and a telling one too–of a very fierce ‘spirit’ of individualism, with so much diabolical brinkmanship within the same team. Sheesh, they can have it. Any normal person would be completely burnt out, and totally fucked over trying to get through their merciless primaries.
May the best, person win (and I think that might be Obama). As with Howard, I’d have voted for the Monkey’s uncle to see the back of him. Anything, anyone’s gotta be betta than Dubbya.

gilmae
13 years ago

Aggression works really well in a fire-and-movement approach to rhetoric but starts to fall apart when combined with charmlessness; charm is what allows one to say “Yeah, but they’re our bastard.” Hilary’s charm doesn’t even seem to extend across all of her tribe, let alone all of those she needs to win votes from. It isn’t a gender thing – the same qualities aren’t working out to well for Gulliani either.

Dave Bath
13 years ago

From what I’ve read, the interesting question is the fact that many Democrat-leaning voters have a soft spot for McCain, especially with his policy of changing the rules to outlaw “pork riders” on legislation (e.g. tax breaks for potato farmers added to a health bill).

Republican-leaning voters, on the other hand, require “toughness” and experience in a candidate to consider voting for a Democrat, and thus are less likely to vote for Obama than Hillary in a general. Hillary does therefore have appeal to Republican-voting women of her own age.

So… my guess is
Obama v anyone-but-McCain : Obama win
Obama v McCain : McCain win
Hillary v anyone-but-McCain : Hillary win
Hillary v McCain : VERY tough call

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

NG, I suspect that you are imputing excessive continuity to the process. I suspect that Hillary is perfectly capable of being a queen bitch in the primaries and transforming into a queen loving mother for the election. I bet it is her strategy, too!

Dave, I broadly agree but I think you are understating Guiliani’s electability. Also, I think McCain would get Clinton pretty convincingly – he is perceived as having too much ‘consistency’ and ‘gravitas’ for her, especially in light of her husband!

PS: To the pretty convincing list refuting the ridiculous ‘fuckability’ claim one could add German PM Angela Merkel and Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Evo Morales.

Yulia Tymoshenko may be too ‘fuckable’ to count as refutation of the theory but I have certainly never seen or heard it suggested that she ever sought to trade on such a quality.

The image http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/83/Yulia_Tymoshenko_press_conference.jpg cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

there’s a lot of black helicoper conspiracies there, Philly. I couldn’t begin to untangle it all.

Yea, i kinda like Obama. i think he has the makings of a great prez given the chance. And yea I simply don’t like Hillary simply because I find her a dishonest creepy nixon-like individual.

What is it that makes you froth at the mouth over an Obama presidency? The only thing I can think of is that it must be the color of his skin. I suggest you get over it.

Helen
13 years ago

You don’t understand, do you, JC? We are not even “rooting for” Hillary as the murrikins so amusingly put it. Many of the feminist bloggers I read support Obama over Hillary. (I think a lot of people have a simplistic idea of how feminists think which would include voting for someone purely on gender lines; sorry, but it ain’t so.) We are talking about the totally *separate* comcept of how Hillary is perceived, treated and talked about by the American media and shock-jocks, relative to male candidates. Irrespective of whether we support her or no.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

But it doesnt prevent numerous social commentators in the US media from trying their best to put Hillarys gender up front and centre, and ridicule her thereby.

Can you offer one example with a link of this endemic sexism you talked about yesterday in the american media?

Helen
13 years ago

Only one example? the “Iron my Shirt” comment is the best known of this campaign – but Chris Matthews, who is sort of the Alan Jones of MSNBC, has been conducting a one-man campaign against Hillary and it is very firmly set in the personal / gender-based slurs rather than attacking her policies. He was forced to apologise when he went so far as to state straight out that Hillary gained her candidature for presidentcy because “her husband messed around”. Yes, I know, don’t look for logic from these people.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Helen:
I wasn’t leading with my chin in asking that question, as I was genuinely interested in your answer seeing I hadn’t read anything to indicate what you are saying.

Chris Matthews is an idiot and always has been. He screeching voice is like chalk on blackboard.

However the one major non-accomplishment by Clinton was Hillarycare, which was possibly the biggest domestic (not foreign) policy disaster in a generation. From what I recall Matthews – a former aide to long time Dem speaker O’Neil- despises the Clintons so much he would lose his composure at the thought of those two occupying the Whitehouse again. Despite his Dem pedigree Matthews was one of the biggest media enemies of the Clintons throughout Bills presidency.

Having said that, do you think that Matthews actually is indicative of how media players actually feel about Clinton? Mind you Matthews is a small time player in the media world over there. Certainly the polls dont show the public at large having reservations towards a woman prez. I think youre over egging this one.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Philly, dearie me, but ‘Republican media’?? I can understand that from your perspective the media are ‘right wing’, just as from mine they are ‘left wing’, but surely anyone vaguely literate realises that the majority of American newspapers are objectively Democratic?

If Democratic is still right-wing in your book, as in Obama’s case it evidently is, that’s fine, but that doesn’t make it Republican. Eg, Rudd is a conservative, but he is not a Liberal. Ron Paul is a fruit-loop, but he is not a Democrat, etc.

Bring Back CL's blog
Bring Back CL's blog
13 years ago

I agree her hillarycare was so bad one couldn’t fathom why she bothered to put itout however she was learning politics at that stage.

Her current proposals for health care in the US ,the biggest issue to confront any politiciaan, seems to me to the best poicy of anyone running.

I think what is going on with Hillary is that the people whp hate the Clintons just can’t let it go

Brolga
13 years ago

Newspapers, Patrick?

Two words for you: Fox News

The Democrats simply have no equivalent propaganda machine to this one alone. And, as it boasts, it is Number One.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

have you heard, Brolga, the one about Rupert Murdoch and Fox News?

Rupert spotted an unexploited niche in the American news market and filled it – the niche in question was the other half of the population :)

So of course Fox is number one – they are the only outlet pandering to half the country whilst the other three share the other half.

More seriously, if media = ‘Fox News’ to you then you need eyes, and ears, and something inbetween.

Brolga
13 years ago

Patrick: try, just for starters, David Brock, the onetime Republican hit man’s book “The Republican Noise Machine”. It explains exactly how the system works.

There are even blue state facts and red state facts. Gasp! Well I never!

There is no real “liberal” or “conservative”, Democrat or Republican media per se in the US.

And the notion that the liberal media rules ok is the finest bit of spin of the Republican Party.

Sucker bait, mate.

Jim Farrell (Chicago)
Jim Farrell (Chicago)
13 years ago

What a great, rich, rancorous debate! Confessing that I read the entire thread entirely on the side of Mr. Gruen, and completely agreeing with his principal point (that nobody really likes Mrs. Clinton personally) on rereading his original post I think even this tin-eared chauvinist can see where he got into trouble with people of a certain sensitivity to traditional male attitudes.

First, his reference to “Hillary and Obama,” however intended, is not parallel. While some might see the use of Ms. Clinton’s first name as a complimentary recognition of her iconic status, others may see it as the kind of over-familiarity designed to put a woman in her place.

Second, using the phrase “If I was a woman in politics trying to accentuate my advantages” is simply asking for trouble. If the point is that charmlessness alienates voters, then there is no need to invoke the candidate’s sex.

When Obama talks about bogeymen in the baby boomers’ closets, such sensitivity about language, such political correctness, is one of the tools the politicos routinely use to devide the electorate. To quote that quintessential MCP, My Fair Lady’s Henry Higgins, “the French [in this case Americans] don’t care what they do exactly so long as they pronounce it properly.”

The rhetorical traps are everywhere and even now the Clinton campaign is laying out more, yesterday threatening to boycott MSNBC-sponsored debates because of the stupid, careless comment of one of its reporters. With the public record extending with each successive debate, it is a remarkable comment on Obama’s charm and carefulness that he himself has to this point avoided the most dangerous bait.

As for some of the comments posted above, I am thoroughly impressed and humbled by the degree to which our Australian cousins care about and understand our peculiar U.S. politics. Philly’s comments are among the most entertaining. Might not one of a conspiratorial mind wonder is she were actually a parody of a feminist perpetrated by a misogynistic male?

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