One of the Clinton camp's primary themes — and one they've used skilfully and to great effect — is that Clinton is treated unfairly by opponents, commentators, and the media in general. This, we are told, is because of misogyny. The conventional wisdom (true or not) is that the perception of such unfairness has driven Clinton's healthy lead with female voters.
Is it so? I'm not convinced.
Certainly politicians and media figures have been treating Clinton badly. But does that distinguish her? The media relishes treating everybody in politics badly. It's not like Chris Matthews is only an asshole about her. He and the rest of of the pundits don't get ratings through sober analysis. They get ratings through rhetorical fisticuffs, and just about everyone feels a punch land now and then.
Has Clinton really experienced qualitatively different treatment than other major contenders? I don't think so. Her crying gets some abuse, but can you imagine any presidential candidate tearing up and not catching abuse? Doesn't anyone remember Muskie's "melting snowflakes"? Clinton draws obnoxious comments from some MSNBC flacks, but doesn't every candidate draw such abuse at some point? For God's sake, some people are arguing over whether Obama is a dirty atheist or a vengeful Muslim. Is that so much better than some dork on cable using faux-hipster rap terminology about Chelsea?
Clinton's strategy of playing up media nastiness is good in the short term — it's drawing female voters from Obama. But is it good in the long term? I'm not sure. I think there's a real danger that it will convey the very un-feminist, anti-progressive message that women are delicate and can't take the rough-and-tumble of national politics.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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