Politix Update: Hillary Clinton, Feminists & The Great Battle Of The Pheromones
I suppose I should be writing today about how the Donald Trump-Ted Cruz stranglehold on the Republican presidential nomination is tightening, as well as that battle for the soul of the GOP in the Palmetto State, but I'm putting all that aside in order to beat up on the dowager empress of feminism, Gloria Steinem, and others who claim that backing Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton is a betrayal of their values. But I'll save my weightiest whacks for Clinton herself, who is threatening to make a hash of one of her greatest strengths in joining in the Great Battle of the Pheromones.
Clinton is on course to become the first woman president, which is long overdue, and her frustration at being ahead of her time in a society in which misogyny is still far too acceptable, women still get concussions from glass ceilings and still lack access to reproductive care far too often, has been palpable at times.
Sanders is giving Clinton the political fight of her life -- that is if you overlook her battle in 2008 with the man who was to become the first African-American president -- and although I prefer the democratic socialist from Vermont to the former secretary of state in many respects, I believe that Clinton is a satisfactory if imperfect fit for our times, capable of building on Barack Obama's legacy, as well as a positive alternative to Republican demagoguery and a return to the dark side of the Bush years -- and worse.
(I also believe, to backslide into that Trump-Cruz thing for a moment, that in a few weeks Sanders will fade, Republicans will be faced with a choice between a scumbag and a weasel, and the election will be Clinton's to lose. As it is, she leads the Democratic delegate count by a lopsided 394-44 margin on the strength of so-called super delegates, and is likely to cream Sanders in most of the upcoming primaries.)
My biggest issue with Clinton is trust. That cuts two ways. That her trustworthiness has been and remains suspect, and that you can trust her to get down in the mud, or at least not discourage her surrogates from doing so, if she thinks it helps her cause.
There is a reason why Sanders comfortably won women's votes in every category except senior citizens in New Hampshire: They like his message and do not feel beholden to Clinton. For young women especially, Clinton simply is not an historical imperative, and like me, they don't trust her.
This regrettably brings us to La Steinem, who at 81 still is perhaps the most famous spokeswoman for the feminist movement and once famously remarked that "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."
As the Clinton camp sensed that Sanders was widening his lead in New Hampshire and began to become panicky in the run-up to the primary, Steinem took to the hustings to opine that women should vote for Clinton because she's a woman. And then went further, lecturing talk show host Bill Maher on how women tended to become more active in politics as they become older and suggesting that younger women were backing Sanders just so they could hook up.
"When you're young, you're thinking: 'Where are the boys?' The boys are with Bernie,' " Steinem added for good measure.
My head nearly exploded when I read that. While I would not call my mother a feminist, she taught us to judge people for who they were, not by their sex, skin color or social station. To me, feminism is about making choices and inclusion. And that voting for a woman merely because she's a woman is sexism personified.
Steinem's assertion that young women who feel the Bern' are drunk on pheromones -- an assertion that Hillary has done nothing to temper as she has figuratively gotten down in the mud with Gloria -- is demeaning, not to say stupid.
Beyond the silliness of considering democratic socialism to be some kind of aphrodisiac, the comment was indicative of a troubling undercurrent in the Clinton campaign: That women should vote for her merely because she is a woman. Yes, yes, yes. There is a double standard for women, and Clinton has been justified in bringing that up. But she has seemed a little too eager to project a sense of entitlement, as well as play the victim, when it suits her.
There also is the sense that she and Bubba believe they can play above the rules. He certainly did in the humiliating Monica Lewinsky affair and other dalliances.
My biggest problem with Clinton in 2008 was that she ran a man's campaign and pretty much played down her gender. That diminished her in my eyes.
Feminists, of course, blamed everyone but Clinton and her husband when Obama stole a march on her, overlooking the reality that Hill and Bill had made an historic series of miscalculations in taking what was once pretty close to a sure thing and squandering it. This took some effort because it required surrounding themselves with sycophantic staffers who determinedly ignored the mood of the electorate and engaged in a Karl Rovian slash-and-burn campaign and some quality time in the mud, that alienated large swaths of voters. Including lots of women.
There is some truth to what Steinem says, but didn't necessary mean. Young women have spent little time in a sexist world, especially the workplace, and are less likely to be radicalized.
One Sanders supporter, typical insofar as she will not let gender proscribe her choices in life, well captured the idiocy of the Great Battle of the Pheromones: "I feel perfectly justified in voting for the candidate who shares my views and values, rather than the one who shares the contents of my undergarments."
POLITIX UPDATE IS WRITTEN BY SHAUN MULLEN, A VETERAN JOURNALIST AND BLOGGER FOR WHOM THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IS HIS 12th SINCE 1968. CLICK HERE FOR AN INDEX OF PREVIOUS COLUMNS.
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