ast Friday we went to hear the Clintons—both Bill and Hillary—talk onstage for an hour and a half in Seattle. Without a campaign to manage or a book to promote, the conversation was wide-ranging. It was moderated by actor Bradley Whitford, the affable Josh from West Wing. (If you’ve never watched the West Wing—do yourself a favor.)
The guests of honor seemed as perplexed and offended as the rest of us by the daily outrages from Trumpworld. Hillary said, “I knew it was going to be bad. But I didn’t think it would be this bad.”
Bill claimed more than once that if you don’t understand that “these people” (Trump administration and GOP Congress members) honestly believe that one set of rules should apply to them, and another to everyone else, you can never appreciate their blood lust for power.
However, the loudest reaction from the audience came when Hillary complained—quite directly—that female candidates are still being treated unfairly.
So, on to women and campaigning:
(1) Double standard. Hillary lamented recent blatantly sexist acts by the GOP: Mitch McConnell ordering Elizabeth Warren to shut it on the floor of the Senate (“I was there for eight years, and never saw a floor leader order a senator to stop talking”); or Trump referring to Kamala Harris as “a nasty woman” after her questioning of Bill Barr. This is all too familiar.
But her deeper criticism was reserved for the media and their coverage of current female contenders. “(For) male candidates, especially at the top of the ticket, there’s so much more positive coverage than for any of the female candidates. There is unconscious bias.” It is unquestionable that the media as a whole have gone wobbly-kneed over Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg in ways they have not for any of the women.
Coincidentally or not, two days later the New York Times printed a long and favorable piece surveying the field of women running…and helpfully pointed out that unlike all of the top men in the race, neither Warren nor Harris nor Klobuchar nor Gillibrand has ever lost an election. A point to consider on "electability."
(2)The Seattle Times. Hillary may still have strained memories of media treatment from Seattle's largest newspaper. In 2016, the morning after she became the first woman ever to claim a major party's nomination, the Seattle Times made it headline news—but inexplicably, accompanied it with a picture of Bill—not her...
(Incidentally, the Times coverage of Friday's event was entirely down-the-middle. No matter. The comments section for their story was, "...closed because many recent comments were violating our Terms of Service." As a flashpoint, Hillary has not lost a thing.)
(3) The spoiler. Both Clintons also responded indirectly to criticisms that her campaign didn’t do enough to prevent the razor thin defeats she suffered in 2016 in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. But rather than confront charges that she took those electoral votes for granted, the Clintons pointed out that in each state, her margin of defeat represented fewer votes than those cast for Green Party nominee Jill Stein—ironically, another woman. In this case, if the media had done more to explore and report on Stein's longtime ties to the Soviet Union...and its last-minute social media blitz on her behalf...perhaps Stein would have been properly discredited. But then, why bother with her? She's a woman.
I’ve confessed a special admiration for Hillary for a long time, given our simultaneous upbringings in the same neighborhood in the Chicago area. (You can read details in Becoming Hillary here.)
But I don’t think I was demonstrating any favoritism when I was stunned by something Bill said. He reminded the audience that when James Comey announced days before the election that he was reopening an investigation of Hillary’s use of a personal email server…Comey himself was doing exactly the same thing. Imagine that.
And here in 2019, one in eight voters still confesses finding it hard to imagine casting a ballot for a woman.
Huh. Maybe there really IS something to this double standard stuff...
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