It’s All His Fault – by Amanda S. Green
Or how “Sisterhood” should have, but didn’t, win the election.
Yep, you guessed it, we’ve finally come to where the real blame lies in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump. It wasn’t because she might not have been the best candidate for the job. It wasn’t because of Russia or her e-mails or Benghazi. It wasn’t even because of that damned electoral college that stole the election from her. “This has to be said: sexism and misogyny played a role in the 2016 presidential election. Exhibit A is that the flagrantly sexist candidate won.” (Pg 114)
That one sentence sums up what is, so far, the longest chapter of the book. It is telling that it is also the one chapter that has any emotion to it besides bitter frustration and anger. For the first time, Clinton seems to warm up to her topic. Of course, that topic is herself and her role in advancing women’s rights over the years. But, before she can really get to all that, she has to spend some time talking about herself. In doing so, she manages to not only come across as superior but she also shows a distinct lack of understanding that what she sees as a challenge for women in politics is what women in the working world face on a daily basis.
“I want to put to paper years’ worth of frustration about the tightrope that I and other women have had to walk in order to participate in American politics.” (Pg 112) When I first read that, I wanted to take out my red pencil and start marking up the chapter like an editor should have. The sentence would have read much better if she had simply aid, “the tightrope women have had to walk…”. But no, she had to interject herself into the equation, as if not sure her readers would understand she had faced challenges along the way. My second thought was to wonder why women in American politics. Is she saying women in politics elsewhere around the world don’t face the challenges she claims she did?
After that opening statement, she moves away from her thesis to tell us that the personal narrative is important in politics. After spending a whopping two paragraphs describing the narratives of her husband and Obama, she moved on to her narrative. She spends two pages writing about her background — and then admits she isn’t “great” about talking about herself. Before that, however, she described a childhood that wasn’t anything “special”. She grew up in a two-parent home, went to church, always had a roof over her head, etc. “It’s a story that many would consider perfectly ordinary. . . But my story—or at least how I’ve always told it—was never the kind of narrative that made everyone sit up and take notice. We yearn for that show stopping tale—that one-sentence pitch that captures something magical about America; that hooks you and won’t let you go. Mine wasn’t it.” (Pg 112)
That illustrates how far removed she was from the voting public. She doesn’t get that the voting public — outside of a few states — didn’t want glitz and glamour. They wanted someone who could identify with what was important to them. They wanted someone who wasn’t part of the political establishment. They wanted someone they could trust. It had nothing to do with the fact she was from an upper middle class background.
Reading on, the reason Clinton had a hard time giving that quick version of her narrative that would engage people was because it wasn’t important to her. The first glimpse of anything coming close to being engaged in her topic comes when she writes about the women’s movement. Then she fully embraces her topic and goes on and on and on and on again. But, according to her, she didn’t want to be known as the woman candidate. Funny, I seem to remember her trying to drill it into everyone’s head that she was the first female nominee by a major party for President and how that meant we should vote for her.
But the biggest reason I shied away from embracing this narrative is that storytelling requires a receptive audience, and I’ve never felt like the American electorate was receptive to this one. I wish so badly we were a country where a candidate who said, “My story is the story of a life shaped by and devoted to the movement for women’s liberation” would be cheered, not jeered. But that’s not who we are. Not yet. (Pg 114)
Is it me, or is she basically saying that we’re too dumb, too backward and so much below her vaunted view of how things should be? Sorry, but I want my president to be interested in more than just women’s rights issues. If this is the only thing she willingly hangs her hat on as defining who she is, I’m glad she wasn’t elected.
But wait! She backtracks again to the “it’s not easy being a woman in politics” bit. According to her, the moment a woman announces she is throwing her hat into the ring, she is put under a microscope where everything she does, everything she says, etc., is analyzed and what comes out of it “can be incredibly cruel.” (Pg 114) Of course, her solution for this is to get the sexism out of politics. I might buy that if she hadn’t been one of those who stood by and watched her own party do to Sarah Palin and other conservative female political candidates what she now cries foul about. In this, HRC is a walking billboard for the old saying of “do as I say, not as I do”.
She goes on about how unfair life has been to her — remember, this after saying her life had been nothing spectacular and how she’d been happy, loved, etc — because she was called “four-eyes” in elementary school or because some of her classmates in middle school or high school made fun of the fact she “had no ankles”. I hate to tell her this but that had nothing to do with sexism. It had everything to do with kids being kids which means they can be cruel sometimes. Nor does it mean her experiences were unique. I bet every one of us has known or been the recipient of nicknames like four-eyes in elementary school. There are no crueler creatures on the face of the earth than middle school girls. And, if you read this chapter, you will see that she very carefully says how “some of” her classmates made fun of her lack of ankles, not that her male classmates did. That means she had to adapt her story to fit her narrative. Gee, are any of us surprised she would do that?
In my experience, the balancing act women in politics have to master is challenging at every level, but it gets worse the higher you rise. If we’re too tough, we;’re unlivable. If we’re too soft, we’re not cut out for the big leagues. If we work too hard, we’re neglecting our families. If we put family first, we’re not serious about the work. If we have a career but no children, there’s something wrong with us, and vice versa. If we want to compete for a higher office, we’re too ambitious. . . . (Pg 119)
For someone who swears she is all about the woman’s movement and understands what women face on a daily basis, that statement blows holes in the claim. What she says women in politics have to do is exactly what women wanting a career outside the home have had to face for decades and longer. But it isn’t limited to just women. You can turn it around and find those who condemn men who want to be the caregiver at home, who want to put their families first. Why isn’t HRC rallying for them? Or does she think they’re weak because they don’t want to be king of the hill in the business world?
I’ve been called divisive more times than I can count, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why. Politics is a divisive business, it’s true, and out country has gotten more polarized with every passing year. . . Why am I seen as such a divisive figure and, say, Joe Biden and John Kerry aren’t? . . . I’m really asking. I’m at a loss. (Pg 120) Oh my, let me count the ways. I could write a book on it as could, I’m sure, everyone here. The fact she can write that and, if she really means it, shows how out of touch she has become. Since this chapter basically deals with her dedication to the women’s movement, let’s start by mentioning the way she did her best to derail the accusations of sexual harassment against her husband, steps that included doing her best to throw mud on his accusers. Then there is the apparent double-standard she holds when it comes to the treatment of female politicians. It’s all right to attack Republican women but not Democrats, especially not her. Let’s not forget those other pesky issues of her e-mail server and Benghazi, just to name a few.
But it gets better. The pity party really begins on pg. 126:
It’s not easy for any woman in politics, but I think it’s safe to say that I got a whole other level of vitriol flung my way. Crowds at Trump rallies called for my imprisonment more times than I can count. . . What in the world was this? I’ve been in politics for a long time, but I was taken aback by the flood of hatred that seemed only to grow as we got closer to Election Day. I had left the State Department one of the most admired public servants in America. Now people seemed to think I was evil. (Pg 120)
I’ll give you a moment to clean up the coffee you just spit out. Now reread that. She thinks she had it worse than Palin or others her party has sliced and diced over the years. But the ego and lack of awareness about how much of America viewed her when she left State is amazing. “One of the most admired public servants in America.” Riiiight. Not. People didn’t trust her, certainly not with the security of our country or those public servants dedicated to protecting it. Not after Benghazi. People wondered why she wouldn’t cooperate with the email investigation and why all those emails were deleted before they could be handed over to investigators. This was more than a few minutes of tape being erased ala Nixon. This looked like a massive coverup on her part and middle America wanted answers she still refuses to give.
Now we get to the debates. She writes about how Trump followed her around, breathing down her neck and how it made her skin crawl. She makes sure to let her readers know this was just days after the story about Trump and Billy Bush doing their “locker room talk” about women broke. But she didn’t know how to handle the situation. She writes that she saw her options as staying calm and carrying on “as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space.” (Pg 136) Another option was to “look him in the eye” and tell him to back off. She chose the former.
I’ll admit, from the moment she started talking about this after the debate, I had questions. Why hadn’t she said something to Trump? [Particularly since they were friends for years and she attended his wedding – editor’s note] She could have asked him to back up some. She could have done it nice and then, in the way of any good Southern lady, mocked him mercilessly and in such a way she never seems anything but reasonable and genteel. But no, she waited until after the fact to comment and condemn. She excuses her lack of action in the book by saying, “[H]ad I told Trump off, he surely would have capitalized on it gleefully. A lot of people recoil from an angry woman, or even just a direct one.” (Pg 137)
I know the Weinstein sexual harassment claims had not made the news at the time HRC wrote the book, but I find it ironic that she whines about how Trump would have “capitalized” on her standing up for herself when so many turned a blind eye to what one of her big supporters had been doing for so long. It is also disheartening that she can write something like that in the face of what she did to those who accused Bill of inappropriate behavior that went far beyond what Trump did to her by “invading her space”. But it comes down to something even more fundamental to me. If you set yourself up as this huge champion of women’s rights, you have a responsibility to stop behavior like what she accuses Trump of doing. This wasn’t a situation where he had political or economic power over her. They were equals in the debate. If she hadn’t felt comfortable saying something to him directly, she should have talked with the debate organizers or even her own campaign staff. Bless her heart, there was so much more she could have done that what she did.
HRC wants the world to think her a champion of women’s rights and, in a way, she has been. But the reality is now she champions only those women and those rights who can help her in some way, be it because they are in the Democratic Party or it is the “right” issue. Frankly, now she seems to be using the cause as an excuse: an excuse for why she lost, an excuse for why she didn’t stand up for herself and an excuse for why America was too backward to elect her. Yet again, she has failed to admit she might have done something wrong or might have miscalculated what the voting public thought important.
But when you are “one of the most admired public servants in America”, I guess you don’t have to worry about little things like facts or logic or issues important to anyone but yourself.
On a personal note, I’ll admit my sanity and my liver almost didn’t make it through this chapter. Thankfully, my son listened to my rantings and kept pouring the whiskey. I think he was amused and wanted to see how much I could put up with before I exploded or passed out. Another run to the liquor store is now in order. At least the next chapter doesn’t have much worthwhile to discuss. So it will be on to the chapter after that.
[I know this is hard to watch, imagine what it must be like to read the book. If you want to help finance Amanda’s liquor bill, use this address Send the woman a drink-SAH]