Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sad Hillary

I have had the strangest feeling recently. I have been feeling sorry for Hillary Clinton. Perhaps there is a natural human compassion even for those suffering most deservedly, and Rousseau had at least that much right.

So to work out these feelings, and in case you missed it (we're all so busy), let me point you to a fine article by Elizabeth Wurtzel a couple weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal, "Hillary Agonistes" (February 15, 2008). She is skeptical of Obama and admiring of Rodham Clinton.
I've been told that I no longer need to do yoga, take up Pilates, or study Kaballah, and I can even stop listening to Bruce Springsteen. Apparently 45 minutes at a Barack Obama rally -- preceded by two hours and 45 minutes of waiting in the snow outside to get in -- will be all it takes to change my life. Forever. An open mind, a free spirit, a loving heart, a renewed appreciation for democracy -- and possibly even thin thighs -- will be mine for keeps, if I just take in the junior senator from Illinois at a high-school gymnasium in Waukesha or a Nascar track in Pocono or an arena in Dallas. In less time than it takes to get through a single session of psychotherapy, Mr. Obama can cure me.
While Barack Obama is enjoying a level of devotion that should be reserved only for one who raises the dead and has the words of eternal life, poor Hillary attracts "a special kind of hate," that comes especially from women.
This special anti-Rodham anger is especially troubling because it's impossible to separate from sex or sexism. Hillary Clinton reminds me that it's possible that all powerful women are, as my friend puts it, "grotesque." They are exaggerated humans, extreme cases, everything to everybody. Hillary is grotesque because she has gotten to where she is, indeed, by playing it every which way -- by being a career woman when that made sense, a wife when that was advantageous; working on her husband's behalf when that seemed the way to the top, then working for herself when the coast was clear; standing by her husband despite infidelities because she loved him, while belittling Tammy Wynette for offering the very advice she was ostensibly taking; pooh-poohing the prospect of having teas and baking cookies instead of having a profession, and then becoming first lady and having teas as a profession for a full eight years. Yes, Hillary Clinton will do anything, bless her heart: That is how you amass power as a woman. We hate her, because she exposes the sordid business of having it all for the grotesque thing that it actually is.
But despite a deep antipathy women feel toward Hillary Clinton, they can't help rallying to her. She is every wounded woman. Every unjustly impeded woman.
We see Hillary, we see Barack, and we see our own version of hell: Here is this amazing woman, top of her class, implausible marriage to impossible man, works as hard as the day is long, masters all the forms and spreadsheets of governing, even manages to raise a pretty darn good kid -- and then along comes this guy, this groovy Obamarama, with his pleasing mien, his high style, his absolute fabulousness, and he wants the top floor, corner office that she earned.
Wurtzel, a law student at Yale with a popular 1994 book, Prozac Nation, is talking to women about their plight in this twisted world of ours that is a mangled intersection of human nature--womanhood in particular--liberal sexual freedom and all the advantages that men are reaping from it, and of course the perennial nature of politics itself.

Wurtzel's warning is well taken that "pundits count her out at their own peril," though her defeat is looking more likely now than it was ten days ago as, despite her fiercest vollies, the bullets and shells keep bouncing off Obama's chest.
But my hard head reminds my soft heart toward her that if Obama loses to McCain (which he will if McCain runs an intelligent and disciplined campaign), she will be back with fury in 2012.


johnsal said...

I came for a visit via Bookworm. I'll keep this blog on my list for frequent visits.

A short comment on the Hillary decline (I know, chickens and hatching). Her present predicament makes me think back to the days of Richard Nixon.

I'm, unfortunately, old enough to have been a passionate young adult during the late 60s and early 70s. I see in Hillary's personality and character elements of Nixon - particularly rigidity and paranoia.

If she can somehow recover her footing and go on to win the nomination and presidency, I suspect that we will be revisiting this comparison fairly early in her administration.

Good luck with your blog.

David C. Innes said...

It's pleasure to have you join us from time to time. Of course, you are spot on with the Nixon comparison. It seems we need to learn our lessons over and over again every 20-30 years. But we do our part to help matters, don't we?