Election 2016

Stop 'Helping' Hillary: Sorry, Guys, but Clinton Doesn't Need to Smile, Whisper or Have John Kasich as Her Running Mate

Instructions to Clinton to smile more or pick Kasich as her VP are just sexism disguised as advice.

Photo Credit: Crush Rush/Shutterstock

Tuesday night, those who were lucky enough to be watching their primary coverage on MSNBC were treated to what may be a record-setter in scorching hot takes, courtesy of, who else, Chris Matthews. “I do think if you could ever find a way to put a ticket together that would actually end some of this mishegoss, to use a Yiddish word,” Matthews spun out before coughing up, and you could feel this coming, that he’d like to see Hillary Clinton pick John Kasich as her running mate.

“If Hillary Clinton were smart,” Matthews said, with a certainty that is unique to men discrediting the intelligence of women who are, in reality, much smarter than they are, “she’d make herself the alternative” for Republicans who don’t want to vote for Trump by putting Kasich on her ticket.

“Of course, this doesn’t happen in American politics,” he added wistfully, “because American politics is so free of wonder anymore. It’s so predictable.”

Yes, he said this during the administration of the first black president, during a campaign that pits the first major party female candidate against a reality TV star who is winning his party’s nomination against the party leaders’ wills and while running a fascism-reminiscient campaign. But what we really need to get out of the doldrums is for a liberal Democrat to pick a running mate that stands against everything she and her party stand for.

This isn’t the first time that Matthews wallowed in this bizarre fantasy. Part of what’s motivating him is likely the Beltway media idealization of bipartisanship that rests on this asinine idea that political differences between the parties are minor issues that hardly matter at all. But I’d also venture that part of what makes Matthews go back to this well over and over again is his well-documented history of having major anxiety in the face of female power.

Matthews has chilled out a bit in recent years, but it’s easy to see why the idea of pairing Clinton off with Kasich, an avuncular sexist who talks at women like they are children, might have some subconscious appeal. It might seem like the way to contain her, keep her in line, make sure that she’s still kowtowing to a sexist establishment even as she vies for the highest office in the land. To a certain kind of man, Kasich feels like the kind of man you want to babysit the female president, on the grounds that she can’t be trusted to run things on her own. (It just so happens that this notion that women can’t be trusted fuels Kasich’s war on reproductive rights, as well.)

In general, Tuesday night was an ugly reminder of how many men’s reaction to female power is to look for ways to contain and control women. Clinton’s massive sweep of primaries was met  met by a bunch of men — and a few women — rushing forward to put Clinton in her place, to remind her that no matter how high an office she holds, her first duty, as a woman, is to soothe and placate the most delicate of male egos.

 

 

 

 

That’s the bad news. But there is good news to be scratched out of this shameful display of manhood so fragile that it shatters the second woman speaks above a whisper or offers anything but a please-don’t-hurt-me smile: The sexism was called out, unapologetically and unguardedly, right away.

Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon. She's on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte. 

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