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Monday, June 9, 2008

A Brief Roundup of the Clinton Coverage

posted by on June 9 at 12:50 PM

I’m too exhausted right now to say much about Clinton’s awe-inspiring concession speech (which I finally watched last night) and Obama’s presumptive nomination, so here’s a roundup of what others—feminists, Obama supporters, Clinton backers, and others—are saying about what Hillary meant and means.


Clinton’s campaign ripped open a hole in our culture and forced us to look inside. And what we found was a simmering cauldron of crude, sophomoric sexism and ugly misogyny that a lot of us knew existed but didn’t realize was still so socially acceptable that it could be broadcast on national television and garner nary a complaint from anybody but a few internet scolds like me. It was eye-opening, to say the least.
 Dahlia Lithwick:
Most of us are hoping that today’s outrage and recriminations will begin to fade in the months to come; that our great-aunts’ threats to cast a ballot for John McCain—the man who voted against equal pay for women—will prove mere threats. But even if we can all manage to realign ourselves as likeminded feminists by November, it would be a mistake for us to skate past the Recent Ugliness without making an effort to address it. Having spent five months pounding on one another like men, it’s perhaps worth now attempting to bridge the feminist divide like women. That would mean listening instead of shouting and recognizing the common interests that outweigh our differences.

Rebecca Traister:

As each primary approached — from New Hampshire to Super Tuesday to Ohio to Pennsylvania — I was sure that Clinton was toast. But Tuesday after Tuesday, there came the vertiginous thrill of watching the pundits collapse into paroxysms of frustration at this goddamn woman who would not quit and, even worse, kept winning in unexpected places and by unexpected margins, even when they said it was impossible, even when they were hollering for her to get out of the race. I think memories of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann going apoplectic will make me smile for years to come. Male pundits from Jonathan Alter to Howard Fineman to Carl Bernstein to Matthews and Olbermann were licking their lips, salivating for the moment at which she would lay prostrate and beg their forgiveness for her sins of ambition — and she never gave it to them! I wasn’t alone in my giddiness. After one particularly wild election night, perhaps it was Ohio, I got an e-mail from a cousin, a Clinton skeptic who had come to appreciate the senator’s dazzling ability to piss off jerks. “I hope she never stops running,” the e-mail read. “Even after he’s elected.” I knew what she meant. It had nothing to do with Obama. It was about the sheer fun of watching a woman refuse to concede to anyone’s expectations.

Clinton was such a hard-ass that she turned her butchest male critics into the hysterical harpies they accused her of being. What fun, during that final debate, to hear Obama grouse (justifiably) about the ludicrous questions he was facing, while next to him, the broad who had, in an earlier debate, been asked about the fact that nobody liked her cheerily removed the shiv from her thigh and used it as a toothpick. Sure, many people moved quickly from the thrill of having two historic candidates to the hair-pulling headache about how much damage their contest was doing to the party, but get over it! When was the last time we had so much fun in an election year?

Erica Jong:

Sexism is hard to see because most of it is so petty we don’t want to mention it. Nutcracker thighs? A novelty like that seems beneath contempt. But it isn’t one small offense that does women in — it’s the steady accretion of many offenses. It’s death by a thousand cuts.

Even mentioning the problem seems ungracious. As women, we’re supposed to specialize in graciousness. And there isn’t a gracious way to talk about sexism. Perhaps there is no way to talk about sexism at all — which is the way sexists want it.

I will work my tail off for President Obama. We need a Democratic in the White House more than ever. But I can’t help feeling that we’ve buried a topic that needs unearthing. Please, Mr. Obama, turn your attention to sexism and tell us how you plan to address it. Then we can all be gracious with a good conscience.


More reactions to Hillary’s concession after the jump.

Marie C. Wilson, writing for CNN:

A sole woman vying for the top position will always have to be twice as good to be just good enough. The truth is, women have been empowered in this country, but we are not in power.

The common feeling in America is that women have made it, but we rank a paltry 71st in the world when it comes to women’s political representation. We have only nine female governors and have been stuck at an average of 22 percent of representation in state legislatures for more than a decade.

But the good news is that Clinton’s candidacy marks the starting point of a new political movement, one that finally brings women of all backgrounds into the political spotlight.

The fact that a woman fell short of the presidency this time around may be a grievous event for many women in this country, but America’s demonstrated comfort with a female president is something that all of us should be celebrating.

Katha Pollitt:

Some think Clinton’s loss, and the psychodrama surrounding it, will set women back. I think they’re wrong. Love her or loathe her, the big story here is Americans saw a woman who was a serious, popular, major-party candidate. Clinton showed herself to be tough, tireless, supersmart and definitely ready to lead on that famous Day One. She raised a ton of money and won 17.5 million votes from men and women. She was exciting, too: she and Obama galvanized voters for six long months — in some early contests, each of them racked up more votes than all the Republican candidates combined. Once the bitterness of the present moment has faded, that’s what people will remember. Because she normalized the concept of a woman running for President, she made it easier for women to run for every office, including the White House. That is one reason women and men of every party and candidate preference, and every ethnicity too, owe Hillary Clinton a standing ovation, even if they can’t stand her.

Michele Goldberg, writing in the New Republic:

This psychic wound is not Obama’s fault, but it is his problem. Establishment feminism has not done itself proud using its noble struggle for social justice as an alibi for political hardball. But it represents women whose frustration and sense of unfairness are deeply felt, and those feelings need to be addressed.

For a start, that probably means Obama shouldn’t nominate a vice president like Jim Webb, who has a number of attractive attributes but a notably bad record on women’s issues. He also needs to stop calling women he doesn’t know “sweetie.” Beyond that, both feminists who support Obama and those who support Clinton suggest he give a speech about women’s issues similar to the one he made about race. One of the things Obama is best at is making people feel that he understands their grievances and anxieties, even if he disagrees with them about remedies. If he can reach out to working-class whites offended by affirmative action, surely he can do the same for the middle-aged women who feel wronged by their surrogate’s defeat.

Jill at Feministe:

I voted for Barack Obama. I like him a lot. He is very good on women’s issues. But that doesn’t make him the best “woman” for the job, any more than Bill Clinton was “the first Black president.” It erases the realities of being female to argue that a man can be a good enough “woman president;” it erases the fact that “good on women’s issues” is not the same as “woman;” it erases the importance of having women in positions of power. And it discounts just how huge of a milestone it will be when a woman is elected to the Presidency. We can applaud Obama on his progressive stances and keep hiaccountable on his less progressive ones without attributing to him a characteristic that he simply does not have. We can celebrate the practical and symbolic importance of his run for President without having to make him everything to everyone. And if we want to be as “post-gender” as Walker suggests, then perhaps we should really shift the paradigm and expect that issues of gender, racial and social justice be fundamental in any political system, and not the providence of “special interest groups” like women.

RSS icon Comments



Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | June 9, 2008 1:00 PM

"Having spent five months pounding on one another like men, it’s perhaps worth now attempting to bridge the feminist divide like women. That would mean listening instead of shouting and recognizing the common interests that outweigh our differences."

Such misandry has no place in public discourse. I am shocked and offended by it. Where is the outrage?

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | June 9, 2008 1:04 PM

Sexism: always Americas #1 epidemic to the feminists.

Please, Obama, care about nothing and address it. Thaaaanks!

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 9, 2008 1:16 PM

It wuz misogyniy what killed the beast...

Posted by The Baron | June 9, 2008 1:17 PM

four pages and then a jump? At that point, just put it all on the main page. We've already had to endure your endless post for four pages.

Posted by Mike in MO | June 9, 2008 1:21 PM
Male pundits from Jonathan Alter to Howard Fineman to Carl Bernstein to Matthews and Olbermann were licking their lips, salivating for the moment at which she would lay prostrate and beg their forgiveness for her sins of ambition — and she never gave it to them!

I'm convinced. Hopefully in the future pundits will refrain from creepy, sexually-freighted language in our public discourse. It's absolutely disgraceful! Also, I hope we've finally seen an end to the practice of picking apart a candidate for her choice of pantsuits while her policy positions go ignored.

BTW, did you see Obama in the jeans and polo shirt, riding a bicycle? Haw!

Posted by flamingbanjo | June 9, 2008 1:22 PM

More of the same.

Posted by Greg | June 9, 2008 1:25 PM

Nice pearls.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | June 9, 2008 1:27 PM


adjective (comparative brief·er, superlative brief·est)

1. not lasting long: lasting for only a short time
a brief conversation

2. concise: containing only the necessary information, without any extra details

Posted by lostboy | June 9, 2008 1:28 PM

Erica Jong is reliably wrong about everything, and always has been. This kind of feminism -- the kind that demands its own victimization, and manufactures it if necessary, and can use even a coattail-riding anti-feminist like Hillary Clinton if it needs to -- is irrelevant to the modern world.

Posted by Fnarf | June 9, 2008 1:29 PM

Roundup continued, from the old Violet Socks "if Obama succeeds in taking over the Democratic Party, then the Democratic Party will no longer be the party of women’s rights."

Posted by daniel | June 9, 2008 1:32 PM

I too enjoyed watching Keith Olbermann "go apoplectic"... But it didn't really have anything to do with Hillary or any alleged sexism...

I just think he looks SO goddamn sexy when he gets all riled up and angry! I barely kept from ramming myself head first into the TV screen in an attempt to teleport to the MSNBC studio and jump him right there on national television....

Posted by Queen_of_Sleaze | June 9, 2008 1:33 PM

Also the whole racism vs sexism thing was a pointless exercise but the image of a bunch of white women debating whether sexism or racism is worse and then deciding, well, let's just say based on their own personal experience. FWIW there have been 35 female and 3 black senators this last century. If Obama is elected president there will as usual be no blacks in the Senate. Go USA!

Posted by daniel | June 9, 2008 1:35 PM

There's a lot of self-congratulation here that completely glosses the one thing you CAN reasonably say about Clinton's campaign: she didn't run it very well. She was the heir apparent, and she blew her chance next to a new comer who politically out-maneuvered the most powerful political dynasty since the Kennedys.

As my 70 yr old mother -- a life-long feminist -- said: "I wanted to elect a woman because I thought she would be different than a man, and more capable to lead through unifying. Instead, the man turned out to be the one who acted like that, and the woman just acted like the men I don't like."

I believe Clinton is truly progressive, and if she spoke through her campaign like she spoke on Saturday, she would have had my vote and many others to boot.

And, as I've heard plenty in the past few days, we may not have a shattered glass ceiling, but it sure as hell has a lot of big cracks in it now.

Posted by MonkeyNose | June 9, 2008 1:38 PM

"Please, Mr. Obama, turn your attention to sexism and tell us how you plan to address it."

It's clear to me that the Federal Government should pay reparations to all women and all children of women for the gross damages they have suppered since the founding of this nation!

That and sexist speech (and thought) should be criminalized with mandatory jail time!

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | June 9, 2008 1:41 PM

It is funny in this hyper-sensitive world we seem to have found ourselves in these days where slights are perceived where none are intended. As someone who watches both Olbermann and Matthews I feel that these perceived slights and sexism are a creation by the Clinton campaign, they did't exist except in the minds of those vainly trying to read in a subtext that that viewer wanted to see. By couching the pundits on the left as being against Hillary may make for good politics but the truth of it has been greatly exaggerated. When the message isn't going your way - shoot the messenger. Or in this case, blame them.

Posted by Sad Comment | June 9, 2008 1:41 PM

erica, do you ever have an original thought? if you did you wouldn't have to quote people all the time to fill up supposed content you're supposed to come up with.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 9, 2008 1:42 PM

Great roundup, ECB. Keep 'em coming. We've had plenty of commentary to the contrary, this is welcome coverage.

Posted by K | June 9, 2008 1:46 PM

I thought the Clinton speech was great and the points above (especially from Digby) were spot-on.

I just got an invitation to a private fundraiser for Obama that I'm thinking about going to (in Chicago). Obviously, I'm an Obama supporter, but I thought it was a little strange that of the 13 hosts listed (very prominently) on the invitation, all of them were men.

Probably a propos of nothing, but I still noticed -- you'd think that even for a fundraiser, if there were that many people hosting they'd make an effort to have some female representation.

If I end up going I'll be very curious to see what the composition of attendees is (gender, race, age...).

Posted by Julie | June 9, 2008 1:47 PM

There was lots of misogynist commentary out there, but of the people mentioned in the Rebecca Traister excerpt, only Chris Matthews was dishing it out. It's not sexist to be appalled at the depths of Clinton's ambition when she had lost the nomination as early as February yet continued with a campaign that was right out of the Karl Rove playbook. Olbermann and his guests rightfully called out Clinton on her bullshit.

Matthews, on the other hand, just needs to shut the fuck up. Particularly about women, but on everything else, too. He makes Pat Buchanan look like a feminist.

Posted by Cascadian | June 9, 2008 1:55 PM

I'm 100% with Erica on this. Woman have no chance in this man's world.

Posted by Kristen | June 9, 2008 2:03 PM

One thing this primary has proved to me is that the civil rights movement was more effective than the women's rights movement in changing bigoted attitudes in mainstream society. Racism is way less socially acceptable than sexism, at least in public, in my experience.

So I sort of agree with the people who have been upset about all the sexist commentary about Clinton, but my question is: what are you doing about it except whine-blogging? It's totally ridiculous to demand that Obama give some major speech about sexism in our society; he has already acknowleged Clinton's struggle as a woman running for President, and it's not like he doesn't have enough work to do as the first major African American candidate.

There is no prince charming who is going to hand us women the respect we deserve. Women should be organizing more around women's issues to demand change, but hopefully this time without falling back on racism when the going gets tough. (BTW, does anyone know of a group in Seattle like this?)

Also, I hate when people conflate any critique of Clinton's campaign with sexism. Yes, joking about her pantsuits is sexist, but she deserved Olbermann's special comments about the destructive tactics her campaign used against Obama. The way Clinton, Ferraro and others used racism was nauseating, and ultimately hurtful to all women as well as African Americans.

Posted by asteria | June 9, 2008 2:06 PM

Clinton's concession speech gave people this warm, fuzzy feeling because for once she was not attacking her democratic opponent or exaggerating about her experience. She just focused on the positive. This was very different from the Hillary Clinton who was on the campaign trail.

Every person that I know who was against Hillary started off as either a supporter or at least was fairly comfortable with her being president, myself included. But we grew increasingly appalled at the actions and reaction of her campaign. Her campaign literally turned into a joke. Just watch any Terry McAuliffe interview in the last couple of months.

Posted by JC | June 9, 2008 2:28 PM


"BTW, does anyone know of a group in Seattle like this?"

I think they have a chapter house on capitol hill on Roy Street...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | June 9, 2008 2:28 PM

Yeah, sexism is real. The fact that the only woman the US could cough up as a viable presidential candidate was the wife of Juan Peró, Bill Clinton. Not that she's an unqualified administrator or anything like that but it's pretty sad that these were the only terms she could get to that level on.

That said, I found her ultimately as unappealing as I found Bill, focusing on both the way she plays the campaign game, and her policies.

Yes yes, there are/were internet trolls saying dumb/mysoginistic things, yes, there were people calling her foul and inappropriate names at times. Overall though, most of the criticism of her out there had nothing to do with her gender but rather focused on her in fact being the favorite AND the front-runner in this circus.

Posted by Wackistan | June 9, 2008 2:34 PM

"But Tuesday after Tuesday, there came the vertiginous thrill of watching the pundits collapse into paroxysms of frustration at this goddamn woman who would not quit and, even worse, kept winning in unexpected places and by unexpected margins, even when they said it was impossible, even when they were hollering for her to get out of the race."

really? is that how you remember it? i thought she was supposed to have it bagged by super tuesday....

Posted by sepiolida | June 9, 2008 2:54 PM

The post-mortems on Clinton's campaign will continue for another thirty years, probably, but the interesting question is, why her? Why was she the "woman candidate", and not one of the many other political high-achievers -- governors, senators, congressmen.

After all, if experience and achievement are what people are really looking for, our own Patty Murray has much more of both, just to name one.

But the same question applies to lots of men, too. The fact is, presidential aspiration isn't really contingent on experience or achievement. Nor on ambition alone; If it was, someone like Dick Gephardt wouldn't have been slapped down so many times without even a serious look. So what is it that makes a presidential candidate?

I think it's simple to come up with a comprehensive explanation for Clinton's unsuccessful run -- but as close to successful as it is possible to get without actually winning -- without resort to sexism charges at all. I'd love to see a counter-example, someone with Clinton's drive and ambition without any Clintonianism attached to her. I suspect she wouldn't do as well; there's something about the Clintons that both attracts and repels.

Posted by Fnarf | June 9, 2008 2:55 PM

Why do vaginas all smell like fishpots?

I bet even Hillary's smells like low tide.

Oh, and womens studies majors are retarded AND think too much of themselves.

Posted by ecce homo | June 9, 2008 2:58 PM

Let's see. She thought if she voted like a man, ala Iraq war vote, then it would put her in a stronger position in the election. But hey, it turned out that is what sank her. Go figure.

Posted by Vince | June 9, 2008 3:22 PM

Erica - I really appreciate you posting these worthy and important articles on the slog. it's really encouraging that this doesn't get passed over.

ecce - you are the piece of chewed up hairy gum on my stiletto heel.

Posted by Emily | June 9, 2008 3:25 PM


I am sorry your female genitals attract dogs who sense dead animals.

BTW, what is it that causes that offensive odor?

Thank God for Yoni Yum, right girls?!

Posted by ecce homo | June 9, 2008 3:27 PM
Clinton was such a hard-ass that she turned her butchest male critics into the hysterical harpies they accused her of being.

It's too bad that Hillary was a hard-ass on things that don't matter or shouldn't matter, such as her gas tax holiday. If she'd been a real hard-ass, one willing to tackle real issues even when it may not have earned her brownie points, maybe I would feel something/anything about her loss. She couldn't even own up to how she was going to enforce her mandated health insurance program. Weak.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 9, 2008 3:57 PM

Emily, can't you see the giant hook in that big hunk of bait?

Posted by Fnarf | June 9, 2008 4:07 PM

@28 -- If they smelled like a plate of steamed and buttered fresh lake perch, ecce, I'd eat more pussy than any gay man ever did!

Stop being stupid. (I know, I know...)

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | June 9, 2008 4:17 PM


I too was sickened by the sexism that was prevelent through out the campaign, but you will have to point me in the direction to where these sexist coments came out of Barack Obama's mouth, unlike the racist comments that came out of Geraldine Ferraro's mouth.

Oh and by the way, Keith Olbermann rules!

Posted by elswinger | June 9, 2008 4:31 PM

Mr. Cornball,

I humbly request that you desist reading my mind when I poop.

Warmest regards,


Posted by ecce homo | June 9, 2008 4:33 PM
But Tuesday after Tuesday, there came the vertiginous thrill of watching the pundits collapse into paroxysms of frustration at this goddamn woman who would not quit and, even worse, kept winning in unexpected places and by unexpected margins, even when they said it was impossible, even when they were hollering for her to get out of the race.
*banging head against desk*

Aside from New Hampshire, she won not one state that was unexpected and never by an unexpected margin. Everyone knew what states favored her. Everyone knew which would be close and which would be blowouts. After Super Tuesday, we knew which states favored whom, and it all broke as expected. It was NEVER considered impossible for her to win Pennsylvania or West Virginia, it was considered so inevitable as to only beg the question "by how much".

What was known to be impossible, by both campaigns, was Hillary catching up and winning the pledged delegate count, and by May, it was obvious she wouldn't catch up in superdelegates either.

I'll be so glad when this type of selective fucking myth-making dies and fades with the memories of this campaign. It has been surreal watching a campaign surround itself with a mythos entirely disconnected from what was actually happening, and amazing to see the number of people who willingly bought every tale told.

Sexism, mysogyny? Sure, it was there, and should be addressed. But can we please stop telling stories that aren't true?

Posted by switzerblog | June 9, 2008 4:38 PM

No, you're not alone in being misguided and supporting the worst candidate for president since George W. Bush.

Yes, others agree with your fantasy that this country has been ripped apart by sexism when it was really united against a horrible human being.

Congratulations -- you continue to make women as a group sound insane because of those of you who insist on rallying around the worst possible icon you could possibly choose. A woman you would never (one hopes) want your daughters -- or sons -- to grow up to be like.

Other than that, you've proven what exactly?

Posted by whatevernevermind | June 9, 2008 5:22 PM

"Having spent five months pounding on one another like men, it’s perhaps worth now attempting to bridge the feminist divide like women."

That's pretty fucking sexist...

Posted by Fonky | June 9, 2008 5:54 PM


You are deranged. Hillary is hardly the worst candidate since W. If you don't like her, great; I don't like her either. But there are numerous women in the public spotlight who are hundreds of times worse than Hillary.

Your hysteria is showing, and it makes you look like a misogynist

Posted by keshmeshi | June 9, 2008 7:29 PM

@37 - Exactly! for Erica to even post that statement that she "kept winning in unexpected places" and NOT in the context of making fun of the moron who wrote it sums up perfectly why ECB has lost all credibility for her HRC coverage. Please, Erica, tell me the "unexpected" victories HRC won after super Tuesday, or after New Hampshire, for that matter. pretty please?

Posted by longball | June 9, 2008 8:52 PM


You are only good for 2 things. Washing dishes and child rearing.

Get over it. You over stimulated, spoiled, wealthy little white cunt.

Posted by ecce homo | June 9, 2008 10:25 PM

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