Why is Hillary Held to an Impossible Standard, Even In Defeat?

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  1. Snarky's Ghost

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    Why is Hillary Held to an Impossible Standard, Even In Defeat?


    [​IMG] Neil H. Buchanan, Newsweek

    This article first appeared on the Dorf on Law site.

    It was apparently too much to hope that Hillary Clinton would, in defeat, be treated with the respect that she was denied during the campaign – or, more accurately, during her entire career.

    What is more depressing is that even some of her most prominent supposed admirers still enjoy piling on when Clinton is being attacked.

    When Clinton kept herself out of the public eye after the election, she was mocked for "wandering in the woods" and was the target of other smart-alecky criticisms from avowedly liberal comedians and commentators.

    Now that she has broken her silence and made some public appearances, we are being reminded of the double standards and outright nastiness that has been aimed at Clinton for decades.

    Last week, Clinton gave an extended interview to the journalist Christiane Amanpour at the 9th Annual Women for Women International Conference. (A transcript is available here.) It was predictable that Amanpour would ask about the election, and it was just as predictable that anything Clinton said on that subject would be featured in sound bites across the media landscape.

    What I did not predict — perhaps because, after all these years, I have still not given up hope that liberals will stop being so self-defeating – is that Clinton would immediately be bashed by supposedly sympathetic commentators.

    [​IMG]
    Michael Loccisano/Getty

    I make no claim to having systematically surveyed the range of responses to Clinton's interview. A tiny bit of online searching confirmed that the right-wing sites went nuts, engaging in what must have felt like a greatest hits reunion concert for their favorite attack lines.

    No surprise there. After all, even at a Senate subcommittee hearing about Russian interference in the election, which was held on Monday of this week, Republican primary runner-up Ted Cruz decided to ask a witness about Clinton's use of a private email server. A collective rolling of the eyes is the only plausible response.

    Here, I will focus on responses to the interview from two Clinton-friendly precincts, because both amply demonstrate that anti-Clinton presumptions and biases are alive and well. On "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah," the host devoted an eight-minute segment to the Clinton interview, while the editorial board of The New York Times devoted a lead editorial to scolding Clinton for supposedly undignified behavior.

    To get a sense of the petty, tut-tutting nature of the complaints about Clinton's supposedly unseemly attitude, consider that the editors of The Times decided that it was worth writing this: "Her insights were strained by insinuations against the president, whom she still refers to as 'my opponent.'" Bad Hillary!

    Before I go further, it is worth recalling just how restrained Clinton had been during the campaign. She coolly crushed Trump in all three debates, even though he spent a great deal of time trying to rattle her with references to Bill Clinton's infidelities, including bringing his accusers to one of the debates.

    Throughout the campaign, Clinton was able to act like an adult in the face of the childish, hateful antics of an avowed sexual predator who re-tweeted neo-Nazi messages and who mocked the very idea that being prepared and qualified should mean something.

    Before the campaign began, I was not a fan of Clinton, based on her history of center-right policy views. I expected to support her if she became the Democratic nominee (given how far around the bend the Republican Party has gone), but I never expected to feel enthusiastic about it.

    Much to my surprise, however, both on policy substance (with a few exceptions) and on everything that can be called style (including her almost supernatural ability to remain calm under pressure), she had won me over long before the campaign's end.

    I was not surprised that Monday morning quarterbacking began immediately following the election. That is part of any campaign. What amazed me, however, was that Clinton was faulted for everything that she did and did not do, and I never saw any of her critics acknowledge that the real-time decisions that she made might have been smart at least as an ex ante matter.

    So, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, people -- most definitely including liberals -- were quickly faulting Clinton for everything under the sun. One prominent line of attack was that she had taken for granted the post-industrial states that ultimately cost her the election, with hair's-breadth margins in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin providing Trump's majority in the Electoral College despite his big loss in the popular vote.

    For example, some media outlets reported on the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, who claimed to have told the Clinton campaign that they should be worried by what he was supposedly seeing "on the ground" in his state.

    I have no doubt that there were people such as that mayor trying to get the attention of the Clinton campaign. I also have no doubt that it is extremely difficult to determine when such people are merely crying for more attention as opposed to the times when they have something important to say. I suspect that campaigns receive calls all the time saying, "You need to pay more attention to us."

    But maybe the difference between what counts as a good campaign and a bad campaign is that the professionals running it know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Even so, Clinton was being held to an impossible standard, because at the same time that she was being pressured to shore up maybe-wavering areas, she was also being told that she needed to win big in order to have a mandate to govern.

    Therefore, if Clinton had diverted campaign resources to Wisconsin and then won, she would have immediately been second-guessed for not "running up the score." "Why were you wasting time on states that everyone knew you would win, when you could have been winning states like Georgia and North Carolina?"

    Because there were competitive House and Senate races in some of those swing states, Clinton would also have been excoriated for failing to devote her time and resources correctly and for selfishly guaranteeing her own victory at the expense of down-ballot Democrats. She and her campaign could not be everywhere at once, so any choice that she made was going to make many people unhappy.

    In short, Clinton was going to be savaged no matter what, including by liberals and people in her own party. This also applies to complaints that she had been too interested in supposedly divisive social issues rather than bread-and-butter economic issues. In fact, she ran hard on a strongly progressive economic platform. But because she lost, no matter how improbably, she was deemed to be a terrible candidate.

    To some degree, an election post mortem is going to be unkind to every losing candidate. But because Clinton has been subject to so much unfair criticism throughout her career, she has been ripped apart like no one else would have been for making completely defensible decisions -- decisions that were, in fact, not merely defensible but were actually the smart calls. When one's opponent draws to an inside straight, skill has its limits.


    Even so, Clinton exited the stage after the election with dignity, and she laid low for months. Finally, she decided to appear in public, including the long-form interview with Amanpour. Was that a mistake?

    I suppose that one could fault Clinton for even agreeing to sit for such an interview. After all, she had to know that Amanpour would ask her about the election, so one might argue that Clinton should have either declined the interview or stipulated that she would not discuss the election. (Amanpour, for her part, could reasonably at that point have canceled the interview.)

    So Clinton sat for an interview in which she knew that she would be asked about the election. She then created a few moments that made news, including when she took some sly jabs at Trump (to the delight of the audience).

    Again, it is no surprise that the right-wing outlets immediately started to whine. What is depressing is that nothing seems to satisfy her supposed supporters — or even those commentators who claim to be balanced. Apparently, Clinton once again was supposed to prove that she was able to be better than everyone else (the classic "backwards and on high heels" requirement), even in the aftermath of the ugliest election campaign and result imaginable.

    And it was not merely a matter of Clinton's having decided to answer questions about the election. Apparently, her answers were too good. Trevor Noah, for example, suggested that her most effective comments were "classic Hillary," claiming (with no evidence) that she had hidden out for six months obsessively preparing zingers, a la George Costanza's "jerk store" comeback on a classic episode of Seinfeld.

    Noah also faulted Clinton for being boring, which he tried to demonstrate by showing a clip of Clinton's answer to a policy question. Again, this was a long-form interview, not a post-election campaign rally of the sort that Trump favors. Even so, it was just too easy for the comedian to lazily reach for the nerd-Hillary meme.

    The editors of The New York Times, however, do not have that excuse. Even so, they faulted Clinton for being supposedly "unable to shake free" of the campaign. The editors acknowledged that Clinton's statements were all based in fact, noting that her comments about Russian meddling in the election and FBI Director James Comey's ill-considered decision to change the course of the election were not only plausible but "merit continued scrutiny."

    So what is the problem? "But coming from Mrs. Clinton, given her own unforced (but largely unacknowledged) errors in the campaign, such accusations can sound merely like excuses." Unacknowledged?! In that very same interview, Clinton acknowledged over and over that she had made mistakes — so much so that Noah mocked her for blaming herself too much.

    Let us be clear. It is completely consistent for Clinton to say something like this:

    There are things that I could have done differently, especially with the benefit of hindsight. I wish that I could have made the race a runaway, so that Comey's intervention and these other things could not have made the difference. But pointing out the decisive role of those external forces does not mean that I am refusing to take responsibility for my own errors.

    Perhaps even more depressing than the nonsensical attacks on Clinton is that both Noah and The Times packaged their attacks as the worst kind of false equivalence. Both included fact-based criticisms of Trump, and both acknowledged that he is a menace, not least because (as The Times noted) Trump has a country to run.

    But because they also took shots at Trump, they can now say, "Look, we criticized Trump more than we criticized Clinton!" And that is supposed to make snarky, baseless attacks on Clinton somehow acceptable.

    It is clear that Clinton, even in the current circumstances, continues to receive the opposite of the benefit of the doubt, even from people who endorsed her. It is now obvious that nothing she does or says can ever be good enough for people who have decided that she is to be held to impossible standards.

    Immediately after the election, I wrote a column under the title, The Cruel ‘Crooked’ Caricature That Doomed Clinton. My argument there was that Clinton had been taken down by just this kind of unfair narrative, even though she was no more flawed than a standard-issue politician. Indeed, she was in fact much less flawed — not just compared to Trump but to many other politicians who are never attacked in the way that Clinton has been smeared.

    Because the media's Clinton Rules are different, however, even left-leaning sources spent more than a year feeding the notion that there was something especially fishy about Hillary Clinton.

    The email story was fully investigated, as was Benghazi, but none of the debunking of those stories ever mattered. The standard line from non-right-wing commentators was that "even though her scandals have never added up to anything, people just don't trust her." And the story line was thus reinforced.

    Again, I am almost surprised at myself for being surprised that Clinton is not being given some slack, even under current circumstances. But the ugly brew of false equivalence, sexist assumptions and unwillingness to challenge the conventional wisdom is even more potent than I thought.

    What is most amazing of all is that no one is ashamed.

    Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar and a professor of law at George Washington University. He teaches tax law, tax policy, contracts and law and economics. His research addresses the long-term tax and spending patterns of the federal government, focusing on budget deficits, the national debt, health care costs and Social Security.




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  2. SueEllenRules!

    SueEllenRules! Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    :10:
     
  3. BD Calhoun

    BD Calhoun Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    It wasn't just a mayor from Wisconsin who warned her. People from Bernie's campaign warned of the same thing. Of course, they were written off as sexist "Bernie bros."

    But what do people on the ground know? They likely just want attention.

    Translation: Just because I'm blaming everybody else doesn't mean I'm not taking responsibility for the vague "things" I could have done differently.

    Jake Tapper nailed it perfectly when he said "Hillary Clinton today accepting full responsibility for the election loss. Except for the part when she blamed Comey, Putin, Wikileaks, misogyny, and the media."

    So it's not possible for there to be fact-based criticisms of Trump and Hillary simply because Trump is worse?

    The idea that Hillary was held to an "impossible standard" is BS. Of course the Clintons have been the target of faux scandals. Republicans have gone after them in some of the most disingenuous ways imaginable. However, liberal criticisms of Hillary are generally based on policies and campaign strategies. Twenty five years of neoconservatism, along with giving the finger to millennials, workers, and progressive "pie in the sky" policies finally caught up with her. It's the same reason she lost to Obama in 2008. Obama ran on a progressive agenda, and Hillary didn't. Obama succumbed to the establishment, but he didn't campaign that way.

    The DNC screwed Bernie to keep the establishment in power this time, but it didn't work out as planned. So now we have the orange disaster in the White House, only it's being blamed on everybody but the neoliberals. The idea that Hillary should be treated with kid gloves now that the election is over doesn't make sense to me. When a candidate loses to someone as loathsome as Trump, it only makes sense to evaluate the reasons why. I get a lot of flack for not focusing on "the mess we're in now." However, I'm constantly assessing how we got to this point because I'm focused on it. The idea is to prevent it from happening again.

    The progressives who openly acknowledge the flaws of the Democratic Party and are actively trying to bring them back to their progressive roots should be encouraged in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
  4. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    And why shouldn't she blame those things, in addition to herself?

    Just because you share the mindset the article is talking about doesn't mean it's wrong.
     
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  5. BD Calhoun

    BD Calhoun Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I just find it interesting that she can list all of these specific "external forces" that contributed to her loss, but can only refer to vague "things" she did wrong. She won the popular vote by three million, yet lost the electoral college due to a minuscule 77,744 votes in traditionally Democratic swing states. That supports the theory that her loss had more to do with a failure to connect with the working class than it did external forces.

    The article tries to make it seem like only Hillary Clinton receives this type of criticism, but any tool of the establishment would have fared as badly. A "Democrat" like Joe Manchin, for example, is far worse than Hillary.
     
  6. SueEllenRules!

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    Just Because I'm A Woman
    Dolly Parton

    Yes, I've made my mistakes
    But listen and understand
    My mistakes are no worse than yours
    Just because I'm a woman


     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
  7. BD Calhoun

    BD Calhoun Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    There's a line in the song that says "My mistakes are no worse than your's just because I'm a woman."

    Of course that statement is the truth, but it was not a man that ran against Donald Trump. Replace Hillary Clinton with a neoliberal man who ran the same campaign, and he would have been just as ridiculed. Obama's a man, and progressives ripped him for selling out his progressive agenda in favor of a right wing health care plan, more wars, increased surveillance on Americans, and a Wall Street bailout.

    That's why it doesn't make sense to me that anti-Hillary progressives are often derided as sexists when they're harping on policy. To be lumped with actual sexist conservatives is the true false equivalency.
     
  8. SueEllenRules!

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    Utter bullsh!t. There's been a double standard for women since Eve made poor Adam eat that apple.

    Actually, that's standard malcontent. There's a special contempt reserved for Hillary.

    So progressives can't be sexist because they're not conservatives? And blue collar whites who voted for Trump can't be sexist because they also voted for Bill Clinton. Twice. It's just an unfortunate "coincidence" that they wouldn't vote for his wife (but were perfectly willing to vote for the most misogynistic candidate in history).
     
  9. Snarky's Ghost

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    While I certainly don't beat the feminist drum over everything (and in fact find much of late-3rd Wave to be pretty despicable) I find it hard to believe that a male candidate who failed in his presidential bid -- especially when he won the popular vote by 3 million ballots, and actually won more votes than anyone in the history of presidential elections, let alone in an election with such phenomenally complex circumstances -- would be shamed in the way that Hillary Clinton has been and continues to be, flawed as she is as a political figure.

    Or be expected to concede contritely that "it was me and only me" who failed to win the White House via the electoral college or any other route.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
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  10. BD Calhoun

    BD Calhoun Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Would you call the contempt Bush, Cheney, and Trump receive "standard malcontent?" Or is there a strong hatred of them for a reason?

    But you're right about there being a double standard. Apparently, it was okay for you to attack Sarah Palin ad nauseam, but nobody's allowed to have contempt for Hillary because you like her.

    Many of them also voted for Obama twice. But after getting screwed by NAFTA and potentially the TPP, they bailed on the Democratic Party.

    I've heard Clinton supporters tout the progressive agenda she supported at the convention and the fact that she gave up on the TPP. But what does that matter if you don't campaign on those things?
     
  11. BD Calhoun

    BD Calhoun Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    If that man ran the same campaign, ignored warnings on the ground in swing states, had supported a neocon agenda, and flip flopped on progressive issues like health care and gay rights, it is my opinion that he would have been just as skewered. Look at the reaction to Obama for abandoning the progressive agenda he ran on. He's not even President anymore, and he received a ton of flack for giving a $400,000 speech to Wall Street.

    And even when Hillary takes responsibility for her loss, it's clear that she doesn't. She can list all of these specific outside influences that cost her the election, but can only point to "things" she could have done differently.

    It's almost as bad as Trump saying he lost the popular vote because three million people voted illegally. No, he lost the popular vote because he's a fascist. And Hillary lost the rust belt because she didn't campaign there.
     
  12. Snarky's Ghost

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    It isn't the same thing, unless you're tone deaf, and those people were actually president.

    No he would not have -- not in the same way nor to the same degree. She's a Democrat and a woman. And a wee bit bitchy one to boot.
    He's a Democrat and black. Almost as "bad".
     
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  13. SueEllenRules!

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    Yes. Any contempt of them is based on their actions, not their gender.

    Whatever 'hatred' was directed toward them, it wasn't enough that they lost any elections. Hillary, on the other hand, couldn't even win against a man who bragged about grabbing women by the p*ssy. Draw your own conclusion.

    I attacked Sarah Palin because she's a colossal twit, not because she's a woman. She's the female equivalent of Dan Quayle, except possibly dumber.

    Have all the contempt for Hillary you want. Just own the fact that it's likely rooted in misogyny, specifically directed toward highly capable women.

    The difference being that Obama was also a man. And a black man at that. God forbid they vote for a woman, especially one who wears pants.

    How convenient they bailed on neither Bill Clinton nor Obama. Just the woman who probably would've been more qualified than either of them when they took office.

    Then what did she campaign on? :confuse:
     
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  14. BD Calhoun

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    And Hillary wanted to be president. What are three things Bush is criticized the most for? Iraq War, Patriot Act, and Wall Street bailouts. What are three Bush polices Hillary supported?

    The only criticisms I've heard of them from within the Democratic Party were based on policy, not gender or skin color.

    Unless progressive criticisms are now akin to what the Republicans say about them, but that seems tone deaf to me.
     
  15. BD Calhoun

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    So why can't criticisms of Hillary be based on the same thing?

    I have drawn my own conclusion. I believe the Democratic firewall fell because the working class in those states felt ignored.

    And I agreed with your criticisms of Sarah Palin. I was highly critical of her myself.

    But my point is that you admit your criticisms of Palin weren't because she's a woman, yet you believe criticisms of Hillary are based on just that. If we were talking about criticism from the GOP, I could see it. But progressive criticisms of her (which the article is referring to) have been based on policy and campaign strategies. Not agreeing with those criticisms is fine, but I don't see liberals attacking her for being a woman.

    Yes, because every criticism I've made of her has been about her being a career woman and not about her militarism, her support of TPP, her prior support of anti-gay legislation, her refusal to support single payer, etc.

    I voted for a doctor who graduated from Harvard Medical School to be president. I like Elizabeth Warren. I'm hoping a progressive single mom named Paula Swearingen beats Joe Manchin in West Virginia.

    Clearly, I just hate capable women!

    That's right, they hate her for wearing pants. Let's ignore the fact that Obama ran as a progressive and Hillary ran as a moderate with a record of supporting social conservative polices, militarism, and trade deals.

    Who knew the Clintons when Bill took office? Same with Obama, who campaigned differently from how he governed. By the time Hillary ran in 2016, the public knew where she stood (or didn't, considering her flip/flops).

    She mostly campaigned on how awful Trump was. A campaign can't just be about how evil your opponent is or platitudes like "break down the barriers" and "stronger together."

    She spent the primaries deriding Bernie over his "pie in sky" policies, and only begrudgingly adopted a few of them at the convention. Ultimately, I believe she would have done what's best for her donors.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2017

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