The Vilification of Hillary Clinton

I used to watch Roller Derby when I was a boy. The fastest skaters would race out ahead trying to lap the pack, and if they did, their teammates would work to pick off the opposing skaters with body slams and worse, so that the speedster could pass them and score a point. Pass four skaters, get four points. Meanwhile, if the opposing team’s speedsters were approaching to try scoring some points of their own, the lead skater on your team could pop his or her hands down crisply on their hips and thereby “call off the jam.” This would end that particular play, with all the skaters then cruising a few laps before the referee started the next play.

I’ve found “calling off the jam” a handy metaphor ever since, both for my own private distempers and for larger public activities and conflicts when it struck me that we would all benefit if the main antagonists could only place their hands on their hips and go cruise a few laps in peace.

And Good Golly Miss Molly, could we ever benefit from calling off the jam in the matter of Hillary Clinton.

Has there been a more vilified, paranoia-inducing figure in modern American history than this former First Lady, Senator, Secretary of Defense, and Democratic nominee for president?

I suddenly realized, I think, how sick I was of the absurd claim that Hillary is some kind of leftist radical trying to suck the soul out of America, rather than what she really is: a true middle-of-the-road, incremental and cautious mainstream Democrat.

And while I was certainly aware of this seemingly over-the-top hatred of her, I’m not sure I quite grasped its depth, nor its level of bile, almost none of it in a jokey manner or tone. When I typed “Hillary-Satan” into my search bar hoping to find a few images exhibiting what could rightfully be called “Hillary Derangement Syndrome,” I was dismayed to find pages and pages of horrible manufactured images depicting her as a Satan-worshipper, Satan him-herself, a vampire, a sexual deviant. Admittedly, I had not much perused the kinds of websites that were producing this vileness en masse not only throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, but for many years before.

No, Hillary hatred is of another order, although it’s not too unlike Obama hatred, come to think of it.

I wonder what that could be about.

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And the issue doesn’t reflect on only the far-right fringe. Surely you notice many Democrats who actually voted for her starting off every response to a conversation about her ever since with variations on, “Of course she was a flawed candidate,” or “I was never a big fan of hers, but…”

So: She was a flawed candidate with a track record? Who had made some mistakes in her long career in public service? Maybe tried to cover her behind a time or two? Couldn’t summon enough animal spirits to deliver a stemwinder of a speech?

Glad no other politicians have ever exhibited the same.

Still, if you’re a Democrat who thought she ran a crappy campaign or just lacked some essential human connection that would have otherwise inspired voters to flock to the polls on her behalf, fine. That’s not what is at issue here.

What we’re talking about is the vicious, scurrilous, red-faced vilification that her legions of severe detractors have directed toward her over decades, the sum total of which has been able to paint her with great success as some kind of radical extremist, wait, no, even worse than that: a radical feminist.

Shudder…

***

Here’s a quickie I wrote earlier today on a friend’s Facebook post that was discussing Trump and quickly turned into tiresome ripostes from Trump supporters playing the old “What about Hillary?” card, which in turn engendered “We’re not talking about Hillary here” responses from Trump detractors:

And actually, I’d LIKE to talk about Hillary, in order to properly pillory her for being such a socialist-commie-leftist radical as to espouse loony-tunes causes such as health care for all (suck it up, ya bunch of sissies!), protecting the environment  (trees, phhhsawww!), professional diplomacy (yack, yack, yack!!) and trying to deny even more & higher tax cuts for our wealthy friends (and hard-working job creators!). Clearly, she should move to Russia…

All right, so it’s a little wise-ass—sorry.

Reading my friend’s Facebook thread, I suddenly realized, I think, how sick I was of the absurd claim that Hillary is some kind of leftist radical trying to suck the soul out of America, rather than what she really is: a true middle-of-the-road, incremental and cautious mainstream Democrat informed by her history and her utterly conventional Christian faith (Methodist, not the Church of Satan) that commands her to seek justice, be civil, tend to the poor, and be good stewards of the earth.

How dare she espouse such Satanic socialist views in our tender democracy?

So again: what’s with the vehemence, the demonization, the seemingly irrational hatred Hillary inspires?

Her husband, after all, presided over a remarkable expansion of the American economy while governing in business-friendly ways and enacting significant reforms to the welfare system that did not sit well with the traditional Democratic left. And there was no reason, given Hillary’s track record, to think she would preside in much—if any—different fashion.

So wherefrom the hatred? Wasn’t because of her lack of a penis, was it?

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In various business meetings over the years in a variety of settings, I couldn’t help but notice, as the data on such things show in volumes and volumes, that men did more of the talking, tended to push harder for their points of view than women did, and, when faced with a woman who asked hard questions or negotiated with some degree of insistence and ruthlessness, the meeting post-mortems would often engender the classic phrase, “What a bitch!” 

In business, a man who holds his ground is tough, and just being a good negotiator. Women doing the same are “bitches.”

This reality is so commonplace in the business world that it borders on cliche.

Of course, it’s not like that in the political world or wider culture.

Not at all…

***

Truly, Hillary Clinton’s main problem, whatever character deficiencies or policy shortfalls she may have presented to any person observing her from their own subjective perch over the years, is that she is a woman, and a trailblazing one at that.  (Just as the trailblazing Barack Obama’s main problem was the color of his skin. Could anything be clearer today, in this post-Charlottesville world?)

A smart, ambitious, shrewd, competent woman, and nobody’s fool.

And still hacking through a wilderness of misogyny that keeps the powder of its most violent resistance dry for those who would most directly challenge it by seeking to become the most influential person in the world.

Anyone think this resistance is only about Hillary?

Well, here comes that bitch Elizabeth Warren.

And Nancy Pelosi, we know, has always been a bitch.

Kamala Harris, used to playing the prosecutor’s role and rolling over for no one, ever?

She may be the baddest bitch of all. And she’s black, to boot.

If she ever gets anywhere near presidential contention, that fact ought to get her devil horns growing at twice the rate that Hillary’s ever did.

***
Who else, on this day? R.I.P. Queen of Soul…

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Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at top of page.
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Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact: larry@rosefoto.com

Roller Derby photo by Eli Christman,  https://www.flickr.com/photos/gammaman/

Hillary devil poster from the public domain.

Jesus and Satan wrestling was an ad produced by Russian intelligence services that ran on various social media during the 2016 campaign.

9 comments to The Vilification of Hillary Clinton

  • Moon  says:

    You know I’m a big fan of 60’s related references, and the Roller Derby metaphor is perfect. Just to bring a non-fan up to date, down at the Olympic Auditorium in downtown LA, the LA T-Birds would skate against some out-of-town team (probably manufactured from T-Bird farm clubs), and routinely whip the world famous jammer Ralphie Valedares around the track to score! God, the brain cells I’ve wasted holding that in my memory bank. I couldn’t agree more on the Hillary bashing…it really has to stop as the retort to anything anti-Trump. BTW, I’m still a big Hillary supporter, and for the life of me cannot figure out why anyone would prefer Trump over her!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Oh Moon, you da memory man! It was, of course, Red Smart (always loved that name!) who whipped Ralph (“Chili Pepper”—always loved that nickname…) Valedares around the track at the Olympic Auditorium. I always figured Roller Derby was on a par with wrestling or Globetrotters basketball, total fix, for show only. I think LA was the only venue, and there were no REAL teams from Dallas (“Outlaws”), or the Bay Area (“Bombers”)—they all lived and played in LA, and all the other teams (one “from” St. Louis, too, as I recall) just served as foils for the heroics of the home team, which most always won in the last seconds on the amazing feats of Red and Chili Pepper. It was a strange spectacle for a kid growing up, to be sure, and I’m pretty certain I was transfixed…

      In any case, 2016 will be studied & turned over in the history books for as long as this republic lasts, which may not be as long as we’d hope if Trump were to somehow win another term. Can you imagine him with no future election to lose, truly unleashed? No, I’m not sure I can, just as I could not imagine what has transpired since his election…

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    You, Moon, and Roller Derby. What can I say! For the sake of our 56-year friendships, I’ll plead mute and comment only on Trump and history.

    One candidate was Secretary of State. The other candidate’s secretary went to the Hugh Hefner School of Stenography. One candidate received 65 million votes. The other candidate received 3 million less votes. One candidate devoted her Sundays to Methodist church services. The other candidate spent Sundays with drivers, irons and putter. One candidate honored the Khizr and Ghazala Khan whose son was killed in Iraq while saving his unit from two suicide bombers. The other candidate claimed that the Khans had no idea what sacrifice meant. As a young lawyer, one candidate fought for the educational rights of children with special needs. At a campaign rally, the other candidate mocked a New York Times’ reporter who suffered from a physical handicap. One candidate called a wall along the Mexican border useless, costly and a symbol of prejudice. The other candidate said it was the only way to keep out Mexican rapists, murderers, and bad hombres. One candidate said the UN and NATO have been essential to the nation’s foreign policy since World War II. The other candidate called NATO “obsolete” and the UN a “political game.” One candidate celebrated a 41st wedding anniversary on the campaign trail. The other candidate’s three spouses were all victims of infidelity. One candidate never disparaged Bernie Sanders’ family. The other candidate called Ted Cruz’s wife ugly and said his father was involved in Kennedy’s assassination. One candidate said that Obama’s inauguration in 2008 was one of the great events in American history. The other candidate claimed that Obama shouldn’t have been president because he was born in Africa. One candidate wrote that it takes “a village to raise a child.” The other candidate didn’t understand what a “village raising a child” meant. One candidate praised John McCain for his military service and acknowledged his bravery as a POW in North Vietnam. The other candidate called McCain a loser because he got captured. One candidate spent years fighting against sexual misconduct. The other candidate bragged about it. One candidate wore a dress, and the other did not.

    And the winner is…THE OTHER CANDIDATE!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Robert, that gives the appearance of a fairly hefty chunk of text, but in truth, it is the most succinct summation of the difference between these two persons that I have ever seen. Bravo and thank you!

  • joan voight (@shapelygrape)  says:

    First off Andrew, thanks for the man’s eye view of contemporary business meetings. We really have got to talk more often. I thought those days of evaluating assertive managers by gender had largely past, but I guess not. I can only imagine what has been said behind my back!

    About Hillary: remember that Hillary is not only an accomplished woman, who might make some folks just a tad insecure, but she lacks the natural warmth, a dazzling smile or the wry humor that can make “bitches” tolerable. (Because a boss lady’s always gotta make the other folks in the room comfortable, ha, ha. Think of Ann Richards of Texas, who was a genius at that. God, I wish she was still alive. But I digress.)
    We’ve learned that lots of men (and women) really like reality show stars who brag they can shake things up. And what do reality shows always need? A villain. Hillary fit the bill.

    Now, it will be interesting with Elizabeth W and Kamala H. Along with their achievements, they both have impressive people skills and they may be better at handling the right-wingers and feminism foes. Beside liberals, I know lots of centrist white men who respond very well to a savvy female boss with fire and brains. So let’s see and let’s hope.

    Finally, all that Satanism business reveals fear and insecurity, in my estimation. It reflects a terror of power changing hands. I think we need to own that power.
    But that’s just me.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Hey Joan, I do think that things have changed for the better with all formerly oppressed populations—women, blacks, Latinos, gays, the transgendered—everyone. (Even the “crazy Asians” have their movie now, which I hear is pretty great!) And there are a helluva lot more women bosses now than even a decade ago, so no, I don’t think there’s as much resistance to women in power as there used to be. But “not as much” is not the same as “none,” so it will indeed be interesting to see how the likes of Warren and Harris fare in the coming presidential rumble. My own feeling is Warren runs too hot and will invite the same viciousness that Hillary experienced, and that Harris, while cooler of temperament, will still invite the wrath of the rabbly right, being a black woman with a tough streak. I will be surprised if either one of them gets the nomination.

      Have also been thinking of Republican women—they do exist!—and the perfectly logical-sounding argument that of course conservatives will vote for women—Collins, Murkowski, Haley, etc.—it’s just radical liberal women they can’t pull the lever for! So…what about that? Is it only ideology that invites the resistance many voters feel toward strong Democratic women, or is there something in the temperament and presentation of Republican women that makes them more palatable to voters than are the staunch and emphatic liberals ala Clinton, Warren, Harris?

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    Thanks. Coming from you means a lot to me.

  • Dawn Helman  says:

    Drewski, great essay! Mr. Spence, great analogy!
    God I love white men who aren’t afraid of strength and power in women and men of color!!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Thank you, Dawn! Glad you decided to speak up. Was wondering if I’d get more response from women on this post than usual. They make up the majority of my readers but a distinct minority of commenters. I suspect it’s a remnant of exactly what I mentioned above—generally staying quieter in class, and especially in the Wild West of the half-anonymous Internet, they seem to less likely to venture media comments (with the likely exception of Facebook). Studies I’ve looked at have suggested only about 25% of comments come from women across all media. Then again, given the bile and vitriol spewed in most Comments sections (this one a happy exception most of the time!), maybe women are just way ahead of the game in finding better things to do with their time. A funny Tweet I saw when looking into the above: “Nobody ever said on their deathbed, ‘Darn, I wish I’d spent more time reading media Comments sections!'” Thanks again for reading this one, at any rate!

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