Big Girls Don’t Cry

Great interview with Salon’s Rebecca Traister about her new book, covering the Great Primary Wars of 2007:

That actually leads into my next question, which is about how you make this very convincing case for how shabbily Hillary Clinton was treated with regard to gender. Again and again people would say, it’s not that I object to a woman being president, it’s that I object to Hillary specifically. But then there’s plenty of evidence to suggest, no, you do object to a woman. When did you personally start to see that pattern?

I actually assumed that anti-Hillary misogyny would take the form that it did in the beginning, the Hillary nutcrackers and the “two fat thighs and a left wing” jokes. This loutish, mostly right wing anti-Hillary spew that we have gotten for decades.

The thing that had a radicalizing impact on me began after [Hillary lost in] Iowa. Because there was this pile-on, and to me it was mind-bending. It was coming often from people on the left. It was like something they had been keeping inside as they bit their tongues and covered this woman who had the gall to be the front-runner and the “inevitable” candidate, which was the word that they threw out there. And finally she had shown weakness, and they were just going nuts.

I wrote a piece for Salon about how, despite the fact that I was not a Hillary supporter, had I lived in New Hampshire I would have voted for her that week, because I was so pissed off. I didn’t know it at the time, but Rachel Maddow said something very similar about feeling like she wanted to defend her on air. There was a video made by Dana Milbank at the Washington Post, just laughing, sneering at Hillary for giving a rally where she answered all the voters’ questions and it went on for a long time. Showing these voters yawning and saying, “Whoa, she’s such a snooze.” I began to see in this very active, palpable way how she was being talked about as Tracy Flick, or Margaret from Dennis the Menace, or Hermione Granger — you know, the know it all girl. And that’s when I began to switch.

The evolution of your feelings toward Hillary is really a central part of the book.

Well I was no fan of Hillary going in. For a long time, prior to her campaign, my feelings were negligible. In fact, I felt a kind of embarrassment that women were expected to have such strong feelings about Hillary. I admired her from a distance, but politically I had less and less in common with her as she moved to the center.

I was one of those few, proud, now deeply embarrassed John Edwards supporters. So when it came to super Tuesday I had to choose between her and Obama, about whom I felt roughly equivalent. I wound up almost flipping a coin and voting for Hillary, but I was still completely ambivalent about her.

Eventually I became a lot more aware of the ways in which not only Hillary but also her supporters were being talked about. I became increasingly sensitive to the scorn directed at her, and it built and built as she continued to fight, and it drove me nuts. Because I thought her continuing to fight was awesome and hilarious. I thought it was completely redefining how we view women and our expectations for them in public and political life. She would not comply. She would not give in. She would not do what the pundits wanted her to do, what her opponents wanted her to do, what reporters were insisting that she do, what everyone was telling her was the smart thing to do or, in one case, the classy thing to do. She just kept going.

But the more she did that, the more anger — biting anger — I began to see, both in the media and amongst the people I knew, and amongst Obama supporters, and that was what began to radicalize me in my support for Clinton, so that by the end I was an ardent Hillary supporter. That does not mean that I did not still find fault with her. I did, and I do. And there were a lot of terrible missteps she made during that campaign. But I was a devoted Hillary supporter by the end, so much so that I, with much humiliation, actually wound up crying after she conceded. I was in the [National Building Museum covering the story for Salon], and I had to run out of the press area, and I was trying to find a place behind a column, and I’m, like, choking out sobs, and I realize I’m standing next to Matt Drudge.

Sounds like her book closely mirrors my own experience. I’ll have to get it.

18 thoughts on “Big Girls Don’t Cry

  1. My question for Rebecca would be: How can you look at the lifelong history of Clinton and Obama and feel “roughly equivalent”? Is it not clear that the one who actually has spent their lifetime accomplishing things for ordinary people more likely to be the superior candidate? And just how much to the left of Clinton was Edwards? I don’t get that. Certainly his platform wasn’t to the left of hers, and he had no history of actually doing anything about the primary issue of poverty that he was focusing on. Yet, Hillary does.

    To my mind, this is one of the things that the media handled badly in the primary war – and that is, pretending that all three candidates had a roughly equivalent background as liberals. They didn’t. Clinton has a background that strongly suggests she’s far more liberal than her rhetoric. The other two have a background that suggests that they may very well be more conservative than their rhetoric suggests. Real liberals that run for office usually have a history of real accomplishment. Obama has none and Edwards only has some.

    I, too, started off in the Edwards camp but what I came to realize is that he’d done very little in his life that would suggest he was genuinely serious about tackling poverty. Obama, obviously, has never done anything for anybody so he was never a serious liberal in my mind.

  2. Count me in, precisely same story here. It was a very lonely time, surrounded by Obama-crushed cultists (with all due respect) calling you a right wing racist. I can’t stand motivational speakers and all that stuff, but for the first time in my 50 years, someone in a leadership position made a positive impression on me. There’s so much more to add to this experience, but hopefully this book will be some sort of catharsis 😉

  3. At the end of the day I didn’t want ANOTHER 4-12 years of dead vince foster jokes and monica rehashes which is all we would of had if she won the primary….at least barack gives us all new hatred to bitch about.

  4. meh. the left can be sexist, racist, and homophobic. and still “leftist.” welcome to my world.

    sorry, i don’t mean to be trite. HRC has her qualities, and i respect her. but i don’t like how many blog posts i’ve read this week that are essentially about refighting the primaries. it’s a New World, yo. that shit is mostly meaningless at this point.

    flame away, i’ve got like six windows open and can’t give this topic the attention it deserves.

  5. Yes I can, madmatt, But I don’t feel like it. I just had dental surgery, besides, you would not believe it anyway or just say something else stupid. Maybe Susie and people who looked at the voting records will, or if you “REALLY” care you could look it up yourself. I sure your are smart enough to look through the record. But make sure you response with something Hillary did like the votes on FISA or wait, that was Obama.

  6. Yea, those dead vince foster and Monica jokes have really hurt the middle class and poor losing their homes and jobs. I know your daily live just could not have listened one more day to another joke about a politician. Everyone run, run. scurry, scurry. Madmatt’s sensibilities have been harmed.

  7. CD: I don’t think it’s useless to air out those issues, because they surely didn’t go away. They’re only hiding.

    I don’t remember seeing blog posts “refighting the primaries” lately; I wrote about it because it was a featured story at Salon today that caught my interest.

  8. I heard to Traister this afternoon on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show: She’s exuberant, speaks fast, and some of the commenters really took exception to how she sounded and talked.

    Whiny. High pitched. Excited. Too fast. Like something right out of the digs at…Hillary!

    l thought she brought huge energy to her interview and enjoyed what she had to say. She’s pretty center left, but she takes a clear and firm stand on a woman’s right to choose. She said that, for herself, she could not view a woman as a feminist who did not permit another woman to choose how to handle her reproductive life, that if a woman doesn’t have the right to do so she cannot be fully equal in the economic sphere. She added that it’s her opinion and there are no bouncers barring the door at the feminist club.

  9. Thank you for bringing this book to my attention, Susie. That’s pretty much the process I went through. There wasn’t much difference between Obama and Hillary but I figured Hillary had accomplished some good stuff for lots of people. I thought that Obama had the potential to accomplish really good stuff for people and then he could come back and run for prez. As for the old Clinton scandals and people not wanting to rehash them, I thought that the Clintons have more experience at dealing with all that stuff and would handle the Repubs better than Obama would and unfortunately that seems to have come true. I knew the bipartisan shtick wouldn’t work with this current crop of Repubs and I thought that Hillary would be more successful with Congress anyway since she had dealt with them as First Lady/an important part of the Clinton administration. So, she had the experience of dealing with Congress from the Executive Branch and from the Legislative Branch. I thought that was important. I’m looking at this whole thing very clinically and methodically and the next thing I know, wham! Hillary is the evil witch who is ruining Obama’s chance to be president. And I’m like, but she might be better suited for the job at this time. And then this avalanche of Hillary hate rained down and I never did understand why it happened. I probably became such an ardent Hillary supporter because of the behavior of the Obama supporters and the media just as Traister did. It was one of the most bizarre political things I’ve ever seen in my life. And there is a segment of the left, the Obama supporters in the primaries, who refuse to recognize that it was quite bizarre and the left needs to work through this.

  10. I’ve had a couple of different threads lately where otherwise well-intentioned posters treated getting the history right as a minor “detail.” I think that’s a crazy attitude, since if we don’t get our history right, who will? And when the mainstream and the Ds open up a discussion on caucus fraud in 2008, and misogyny in 2008 and how that was leveraged, I’ll stop “refighting the primary wars.” They won’t, and that’s why the Ds deserve to be destroyed as a party. “Every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword….”

  11. I learned during the primaries that Daily Kos, etc. was filled with scum. We saw a cyber-version of Robespierre’s Terror; I mean, the same ugly psychology. Their hypocrisy is farcical. There’s no reason to think they are capable of evolving. They’d be dangerous except that they are so widely despised and laughed at. No matter what they say, they don’t actually care about any progressive value: healthcare, the poor, peace, free speech, not even democracy. They are just a viral mob that leeches off whatever issue they can latch onto.

    Who can believe anything good or progressive could come out of Journolist?

  12. And there were a lot of terrible missteps she made during that campaign.

    The “Hillary ran a bad campaign” myth rears its ugly head.

    Hillary got MORE votes than Obama while spending LESS money. She won all the big states except Illinois – several of them by 10 points or more. She won the “swing” states like Ohio and Florida. She did that with the media and the Democratic establishment against her, and with them proclaiming Obama unbeatable as early as the first week of January 2008.

    All things considered, she ran an awesome campaign.

  13. Personally, I think this woman is too quick to place blame on women. And she condemns Hillary’s camp for racism, without a single instance noted. It is just assumed because Obama said so. . I’m sorry, but show me an example. No, Obama’s race-baiting was screaming racism non-stop, never actually having anything to go on. All the while encouraging the worst kinfd of sexism against both Hillary and Palin. There are hundreds of examples of misogynism from the ’08 campaign from both the media and from Obama’s camp. Which this woman accepts as expected.

    In debate after debate he was allowed to follow Hillary and say, “well what she said” after Hillary talked knowledgeably on every subject. . Yet he got credit for being a great orator and some kind of genius.
    She forgets about the stolen delegates and giving Obama hundreds of unearned delegates. Remember Gwen Ifill declaring that she would quit the party if Superdelegates chose the candidate, right up until superdelegates chose her candidate? Then they were awesome! Remeber caucusses being overrun by out of state Obama thugs? I do. Caucusses were not democratic and Obama supporters did enerything possible to force Hillary delegates out of the room.
    Hillary won every state with a primary vote. She won every large state.

    Obama had to resort to demanding that two large state sacifice half of their delegates, then give him all of the “undecided” votes. Then when that still wasn’t enough, the RBC took 4 of Hillary’s delegates and gave them to Obama to get him over the hump.

    I’m glad this woman finally caught on that Obama is an empty suit and that his campaign was made up of a bunch of sexist pigs. But I knew it a long time before. It appears she wasn’t paying much attention most of the time. Obama did not win in a landslide, and Hillary supporters knew he was a corporate owned cheat from the getgo.

    So many people were taken in by this race-baiting empty suit. Never once did Obama have to point to a single accomplishment. He spent the primaries courting Republicans to vote in the Democratic Primaries. Declared allegiance to Reagan. Called himself a Obamacan. Not a Democrat. And now his supporters are surprised he governs to the right of Bush? This woman is pretty slow on the uptake.

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