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Pushing Back Against the Hillary Haters

I guess she didn't get the memo -- middle aged women are supposed to dry up, go home and be invisible.
 
 
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I was watching MSNBC this morning and wondering how much the media thrall surrounding Barack Obama has been worth to his campaign.

Having seen Obama mania up close and personal the media didn't make it up, but the way they cover this race -- the language they use to talk about him, his charisma, his "youth movement," his momentum and his star qualilty all stand in sharp contrast to the way they pick apart every detail of Clinton.

They obsess over her in irrational and completely contradictory ways and just seem to find it unseemly that a middle aged woman won't quietly remove herself from the national stage and stop making a bunch of men under 35 uncomfortable with her very presence.

Stanley Fish, writing today in the NYT, gives the best description I've read of the Hillary Hating phenomenon:

I have been thinking about writing this column for some time, but I have hesitated because of a fear that it would advance the agenda that is its target. That is the agenda of Hillary Clinton-hating.

Its existence is hardly news -- it is routinely referred to by commentators on the present campaign and it has been documented in essays and books -- but the details of it can still startle when you encounter them up close. In the January issue of GQ, Jason Horowitz described the world of Hillary haters, many of whom he has interviewed. Horowitz finds that the hostile characterizations of Clinton do not add up to a coherent account of her hatefulness. She is vilified for being a feminist and for not being one, for being an extreme leftist and for being a "warmongering hawk," for being godless and for being "frighteningly fundamentalist," for being the victim of her husband's peccadilloes and for enabling them. "She is," Horowitz concludes, "an empty vessel into which [her detractors] can pour everything they detest." (In this she is the counterpart of George W. Bush, who serves much the same function for many liberals.)

This is not to say that there are no rational, well-considered reasons for opposing Clinton's candidacy. You may dislike her policies (which she has not been reluctant to explain in great detail). You may not be able to get past her vote to authorize the Iraq war. You may think her personality unsuited to the tasks of inspiring and uniting the American people. You may believe that if this is truly a change election, she is not the one to bring about real change.

Jane Hamsher is the founder of FireDogLake. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect.

 
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