Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Give the lady a break

It just makes me mad that the media is criticizing Hillary Clinton for not having conceded the Democratic nomination yet. Why is it that, for one second, people cannot connect with this situation on a human level, regardless of their opinion of her, her policies, or her campaign?

Here is a woman who started her campaign 18 months ago, ahead in the polls and a virtual shoo-in for the nomination, and has spent months - no years - listening to the conjecture about her candidacy. A woman who has won 18 million votes and the passionate support of men and women across the country. A 60-year old woman who has attended more than 1,000 campaign events (200 more than Obama) in almost every state in our nation, has raised (like Obama) more money than any presidential campaign before her, and who has poured millions of dollars of her own fortune into the cause also. A woman who has had thousands of volunteers and staffers working tirelessly for her cause. often at the expense of their own lives and families. And a woman who has seen her husband win this same prize, who knows the taste of victory, and the reality of the grand opportunity she was given but that has slipped through her fingers.

So, why then is it impossible to imagine that even a powerful, ambitious woman, has feelings and emotions that she needs to work through after such a hard-fought campaign?

Our society seems to require women place themselves in one box or another. You're either assertive, ambitious, smart, and unfeeling (a "bitch") or you're a blithering mess who can't be relied upon to handle positions of real responsibility (hello - is this a Jane Austin novel?)

Give the lady a break, I say. Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, she is not a robot. Give her time to process the reality of her situation in the cold light of day and to consider her goodbye speech as well as Obama considers each of his well-measured words. Give her time to work through the disappointment, the goodbyes, to look beyond an end she'd never thought she'd see and toward a future that is uncertain, and space to craft that final speech in a gracious, appropriate and eloquent way. I think she's earned at least that.

4 comments:

e said...

She certainly has, but she won't get that. She's running for President, no one is about to give her any breaks. That's just par for the course, whether she's a woman or not. Dukakis got torn to shreds, so did Kerry, and so did Al Gore, more than anyone. I don't think her being a woman has much to do with it, frankly.

I for one actually liked her speech. I liked that she personalized it and talked about individuals she's met on the campaign trail, that was awesome.

TravelVixen said...

I'm not saying that not getting the space she needs is necessarily a result of the sexism that has been rampant through this process, just that the space is something she deserves. And that doesn't change the sexist comments and vernacular during this campaign...

e said...

Oh yes, she does deserve it. As for the sexism - the comments were just plain stupid, weren't they? At the end of the day, she didn't win not because she's a woman, I think, but because somehow she and Bill slipped into this strident, petty mode that took attention away from what she's really committed to. I started out supporting her, but then as the campaign continued, my focus shifted. But that's not the point of your post.

There's been much speculation that she avoided conceding as a tactical decision. There's a very deeply engrained perception that the Clintons do nothing that does not advance them personally. I'm on the fence on whether I agree with that or not. Again, not the point of your post, just random thoughts.

TravelVixen said...

I agree with you on the way the campaign was run - it just didn't change my belief in her as an individual. Instead it made me frustrated. I constantly wonder if she ran the campaign SHE really wanted to run. Bill really messed it up for her on numerous occassions and was the catalyst that turned the tide for African Americans to vote for Obama.

I don't think she lost because of the sexist comments but the comments are nevertheless maddening and it would have been nice to stick one's middle finger up at those particular morons, with a victory. But it was not to be.

I do think that she lost because she was a woman, however. But not in the way you might think. My argument goes deeper than: "People didn't vote for her because of her sex." I firmly believe the expectations of her as a woman in this process, of who she needed to be, were sexist in nature, placed her in a 'no win' situation, and played into the "she's a calculating bitch" perception of who she is - I think this is a large part of why she couldn't pull out the votes at the end of the day. Barack is simply perceived to be more 'likeable'. The comments were a symptom of that, not the cause of the loss.

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