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Subject: "Likable" rss

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This essay by Sady Doyle about Hillary Clinton is very good - the original page has lots of embedded links for the curious.

Sady Doyle wrote:
My affection for Hillary Clinton is hard to explain. It wins no fights and earns you no friends to admit it: Actual warmth, even protectiveness, toward this impossible, frustrating, contradictory, polarizing, disappointing woman. My finding Hillary intensely “likable” is weird, and I admit it. It doesn’t signify universal approval of her decisions. I can and do disagree with Hillary Clinton, regularly and strongly. But some part of me also hopes that Hillary Clinton is having a nice day.

I’ve come to believe that, in some ways, saying nice things about Hillary Clinton is a subversive act. I spent much of this year working on a long project on how women are demonized in the media. Hillary Clinton was a fairly large part of that story – she had to be; if you want to talk “women that people hate,” she’s kind of unavoidable – and I spent a while sorting through Clintoniana, dating back to the early ‘90s, to find nasty things people had said about her, or common narratives about her personality. It wasn’t pretty – the worst stuff for Hillary was way worse than I’d expected, and there was way more of it than I expected to find – but it was also illuminating, in some key ways. I got a better sense of the pressures that she has to live with, and how they’ve informed her decisions.

I also realized that, unless you really take a look at those pressures, the narrative around Hillary Clinton’s “likability” is doomed to be inaccurate, in some way. She might even be very easy to dislike, if you weren’t looking at those narratives, or if you underestimated their severity. But, in my experience, trying to parse Hillary Clinton without also parsing Hillary-Hate is like trying to drink water without touching the glass. As long as you refuse to deal with the container, the actual substance tends to stay permanently out of reach.

For example: Female politicians are stereotyped as “soft” and incompetent when it comes to foreign policy and national security. It’s a basic, entrenched form of sexism: Only boys know how to fight, or play with guns. So, in order to be taken seriously, Hillary has to prove that she’s as tough as any man, or tougher. But she can’t actually be as tough as any man, or tougher; that plays into the stereotype that women are fonts of petty malevolence, prone to irresponsibly starting conflicts for no reason. (Here’s a joke I first heard from my father, and heard from many men throughout my lifetime: “Why can’t you elect a female President? Because, when she gets her period, she’ll launch the nukes.”) She has to look either “soft” and passive, or “hard” and aggressive. Either one is bad for her.

This plays out on the level of personal expression, too: Women are supposedly over-emotional, whereas men make stern, logical, intelligent judgments. So, if Hillary raises her voice, gets angry, cries, or (apparently) even makes a sarcastic joke at a man’s expense, she will be seen as bitchy, crazy, cruel and dangerous. (Remember the “NO WONDER BILL’S AFRAID” headlines after she raised her voice at a Benghazi hearing; remember the mass freak-out over her “emotional meltdown” when someone thought she might be crying during a concession speech.) She absolutely cannot express negative emotion in public. But people have emotions, and women are supposed to have more of them than men, so if Hillary avoids them – if she speaks strictly in calm, logical, detached terms, to avoid being seen as crazy – we find her “cold,” call her “robotic” and “calculating,” and wonder why she doesn’t express her “feminine side.” Again, she’s going to be faulted for feminine weakness or lack of femininity, and both are damaging.

Okay, so she can never be sad, angry, or impatient. That’s not a ban on all emotion, right? You’d think the one clear path to avoiding the “bitchy” or “cold” descriptors would be to put on a happy face, and admit to emotions only when they are positive. You’d think that, and you’d be wrong: It turns out, people fucking hate it when Hillary Clinton smiles or laughs in public. Hillary Clinton’s laugh gets played in attack ads; it has routinely been called “a cackle” (like a witch, right? Because she’s old, and female, like a witch); frozen stills of Hillary laughing are routinely used to make her look “crazy” in conservative media. She can’t be sad or angry, but she also can’t be happy or amused, and she also can’t refrain from expressing any of those emotions. There is literally no way out of this one. Anything she does is wrong.

And we should linger on the “witch” thing, because this is important. Women supposedly have an expiration date, typically in their thirties or forties, and Hillary Clinton is sixty-eight years old. One of the key lines Republicans ran against her candidacy, early on, is that she was “out of touch,” senile, “forgetful,” too old for the Presidency, representative of the “twentieth century” (unlike that charming young twenty-first century whippersnapper Marco Rubio). Images where she looks her age have routinely been used to discredit her: On Rush Limbaugh’s blog, a photo of an exhausted-looking Hillary on the campaign trail was posted, next to the argument that she couldn’t be President because people shouldn’t be forced to “stare at an aging woman.” So Hillary Clinton can’t look or act her age. On the other hand, if she acts more youthful – by paying special attention to her appearance, or making youth-culture references – it’s “pathetic,” “pandering,” and “desperate.” She’s running “the thirstiest campaign,” trying too hard to get the youth vote. Conservatives whisper about “Hillary Clinton’s secret face-lift;” progressives can’t stand the frivolity of her answering a question about Beyonce, or running a social media account that uses Buzzfeed-popularized slang. She’s a useless old biddy if she looks or acts her age, and a pathetic, desperate old cougar if she looks or acts any younger. Again, there is no right age for Hillary Clinton to be.

There are no right politics for Hillary Clinton to have, either. As an openly feminist woman on the national stage, she has been accused since 1992 of “radical feminism,” far-left wingnuttery (she knew Saul Alinsky! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!) and a multitude of progressive sins up to and including, yes, socialism. ( “She’s a Marxist.” - Conservative criticism of Hillary Clinton, circa 2007.) So if she wants people to take her seriously, she’s got to prove that she’s not a Maoist hippie, and that she can cooperate with the opposition. On the other hand, if she does that, she’s No True Liberal, a secret conservative, a compromiser, “no different than a Republican.” She must disprove the Thatcher Theorem – because one female head of state was a wretched conservative, all female heads of state will be wretched conservatives – and appeal to the further left members of her party (including, yes, you and me). But she must also be moderate enough to win over the centrists who comprise the majority of her party, carry a national election, and be taken seriously as a representative of something other than the radical fringe.

Because Hillary Clinton, you see, would like to be President. And the thing is, there’s no right way for her to do that, either. The problem is that, if she campaigns too hard, or works too much, she (again) looks “pathologically ambitious,” obsessive, “ruthless,” selfish, and over-confident in her own abilities. (Unlike, say, anyone else who thought they deserved to be the leader of the free world.) On the other hand, if she actually wins anything, or succeeds in any way, everyone is pretty certain that she didn’t earn it: She slept her way to the top! The media is being unfair to Bernie! This whole thing is rigged!!!! She works too hard, and wants to succeed too much, but when she succeeds, it’s apparently never due to all that hard work. The only way for her to campaign “appropriately,” in this scheme, is to sit back and let a male opponent win. Or to not run at all.

And finally: You’d think, given the impressive amount of unfair and often cruelly personal scrutiny this woman faces from the media, it would make sense for her to be pretty cautious about how she presents herself in public. Any misstep or miscalculation will result in a flood of negative headlines, and stands to damage her. Well, apparently, that doesn’t make sense at all. Hillary Clinton, you see, has a reputation for seeming “distant” to the press, not “open” enough to media exposure, “secretive,” “paranoid.” That public presence of hers sure does seem “calculating.” I mean: It’s almost like, after over twenty straight years of being attacked for her appearance, personality, and every waking move, breath and word, Hillary Clinton is highly conscious of how she is perceived and portrayed, and is trying really hard to monitor her own behavior and behave in ways people will accept. Which is disgusting, of course. Nowadays, we want “authentic” candidates. Hillary Clinton isn’t “trustworthy.” She doesn’t seem “real.”

Again: Remind me of exactly how well the public and/or the media reacted the last time she showed up in public without makeup. Or raised her voice. Or laughed. Or went to the goddamn bathroom. Or did any “authentic” thing that a real life person does every day.

Hillary Clinton is the impossible woman. The pressures she lives under, every moment of her life, are so numerous and so all-encompassing that she barely has room to breathe. She doesn’t have an inch of leeway, a single safe option; there is no version of Hillary Clinton that won’t receive visceral hatred, and loud, personal criticism. And the version of Hillary Clinton we get – this conflicted, conflict-inspiring candidate, the woman who has a genius-level recall of global politics but has to assure the world she’ll spend her Presidency picking out flowers and china, the lady who books a guest spot on Broad City but can’t pronounce “Beyonce,” the woman who was twenty years ahead of the curve on women’s rights but somehow thinks it’s a good idea to throw in a Bush-esque 9/11 reference at a debate – is the inevitable product of these pressures.

And so is the fact that I like her. My apparent new career as Hillary Clinton’s self-appointed Anger Translator is a weird choice, maybe even a self-destructive choice, but honestly, ask yourself: How long would you make it, if people treated you the way you treat Hillary Clinton? Would you not just be furious, by now? Would you not have reached levels of blood-vessel popping, shit-losing rage, or despair? Because the fact that she’s dealt with it at all, and kept her shit together, is admirable. The fact that she’s been dealing with it for decades, and keeps voluntarily subjecting herself to it, and, knowing exactly how bad it will get, and exactly what we’ll do to her, is running for President again, and (here’s the part I love, the part that I find hard to even wrap my head around) actually winning? To me, that is awe-inspiring.

And her story moves me, on that level, simply as an example of a woman who got every misogynist trick in the world thrown at her, and who didn’t let it slow her down. On that level, she’s actually become a bit of a personal role model: When people yell at me, or dislike me, I no longer think oh, how horrible this is for me. I now think, well, if Hillary can do it. Seriously. If Hillary Clinton can be called an evil hag by major media outlets for most of her adult life and run for President, I can deal with blocking ten or twenty guys on Twitter. She’s dealt with more shit than I have. She’s still going. I really have no excuse not to do the same.

But she shouldn’t have to deal with it. This is all the byproduct of a misogynist culture. If you can cut through those expectations, or change them, a different woman – potentially a very different candidate – would emerge on the other side. So saying nice things about Hillary Clinton, for me, isn’t just something I do because I feel good about her. It’s not even something I do to piss people off. It’s a way to shift cultural dialogue, to allow for a world where women aren’t suffocated or crushed by our expectations of them – a world where Hillary, and every future female President or Presidential candidate, can focus on the task at hand, and not have to climb over a barbed-wire fence of hatred in order to change the world.
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I feel like I wish I could be a Clinton supporter, She's a strong intelligent woman, a career politician who is good at her job in the sense she has been a power-broker at a US national level for something like 20 years. The feminist in me wants to see someone I could in theory vote for if I were voting in US elections. Sadly I just don't expect her to push policies I could support.
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Your post seems to indicate that her being a woman is a disadvantage. I disagree. If she were a man, she would have little chance of winning the presidency. She is currently the favorite to win.

I think it's awful to say she can't do the job as a 68-year old; Ronald Reagan was far older and thought to be the best modern-day president by many conservatives despite having age-related issues.
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Kaitlyn_Res wrote:
Your post seems to indicate that her being a woman is a disadvantage. I disagree. If she were a man, she would have little chance of winning the presidency. She is currently the favorite to win.

I think it's awful to say she can't do the job as a 68-year old; Ronald Reagan was far older and thought to be the best modern-day president by many conservatives despite having age-related issues.


Why would her being a man slow her down? The competition is all clown cars. She's on the road to a default win.

I suppose being a man might hirt her because that would mean she was gay, being married to Bill. I don't know if the US is ready for an openly gay president get. I would like to think it wouldn't matter, but the cynic in my says,it would.
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Shadrach wrote:
Kaitlyn_Res wrote:
Your post seems to indicate that her being a woman is a disadvantage. I disagree. If she were a man, she would have little chance of winning the presidency. She is currently the favorite to win.

I think it's awful to say she can't do the job as a 68-year old; Ronald Reagan was far older and thought to be the best modern-day president by many conservatives despite having age-related issues.


Why would her being a man slow her down? The competition is all clown cars. She's on the road to a default win.

I suppose being a man might hirt her because that would mean she was gay, being married to Bill. I don't know if the US is ready for an openly gay president get. I would like to think it wouldn't matter, but the cynic in my says,it would.


Don't you know? Men are the most discriminated against group in the country, if not the world!
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I feel like a lot of it comes from fatigue. Clinton has been so high profile for so long. I think a reasonable analogue in a male politician would be Ted Kennedy. He was high profile and powerful, but he also had scandals that dogged him throughout his life and he was never going to be President. I think a lot of people felt the same way about him as they do about Clinton.

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I think Rubio beats Clinton. I think Clinton beats Trump/Bush.

IDK about Cruz.
 
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damiangerous wrote:
I feel like a lot of it comes from fatigue. Clinton has been so high profile for so long. I think a reasonable analogue in a male politician would be Ted Kennedy. He was high profile and powerful, but he also had scandals that dogged him throughout his life and he was never going to be President. I think a lot of people felt the same way about him as they do about Clinton.



I'd argue the better parallel (really a different take on 'plagued by scandal') is the multiple decade smear campaign against them.



In Clinton's case it adds a bit (weirdly enough) of an underdog effect.

We've seen decades of attacks, and it makes some people sympathize with someone they've seen being continuously targeted.
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This tread reminds me of an old joke that went around near the time of the Tonya Harding Olympics scandal.

Who is the most despised woman in America?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Tonya Rodham Bobbitt.
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whac3 wrote:
She's a strong intelligent woman, a career politician who is good at her job


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There are plenty of female politicians that are not only likeable, but that I prefer as prime minister over any male politician I can think of: Natasha Stott-Despoja, Tanya Plibersek, Clover Moore, etc. And Penny Wong would probably be better than any of the men in her party too.

Clinton, for me, is not like these women. She comes across as insincere and also as part of that dynastic ruling class along with the Bush family and the Kennedys. I'm sure she cops a ton of sexism, but there are reasons other than sexism to dislike her.
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sbszine wrote:

Clinton, for me, is not like these women. She comes across as insincere and also as part of that dynastic ruling class along with the Bush family and the Kennedys. I'm sure she cops a ton of sexism, but there are reasons other than sexism to dislike her.

Agreed. It's frustrating seeing the knee-jerk "Any criticism of Hillary is sexist!" when there are plenty of good reasons to dislike her... although it's true there's also the elbow-jerk "Yeah, criticizing Hillary isn't sexist, she's just (insert sexist description)".
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Many of you clearly don't understand how biased our culture is against women.

I spend a lot of time on both sides of the fence (I have plenty of friends and family from all political stripes, and I spend a lot of time on websites for both sides as well).

I can't tell you how many jokes I've heard about Clinton and Fiorina that you would never hear about a man. Perverse jokes about their looks (mostly of the negative kind), about how stern and heartless they are, and also about how weak they are and how they couldn't stomach the tough decisions because of their gender...etc.

BOTH sides are guilty of this. It's not even an undercurrent. It's rampant misogyny, and it touches all parts of the political spectrum.

We have a long way to go as a society.
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sbszine wrote:
Clinton, for me, is not like these women. She comes across as insincere and also as part of that dynastic ruling class along with the Bush family and the Kennedys. I'm sure she cops a ton of sexism, but there are reasons other than sexism to dislike her.


It's not that she is the best choice but she might be the least, worse choice. She is certainly playing politics to get the democratic nomination, something you'd expect a politician to be able to do. I'm assuming we will see the real Hilary if she gets the nomination.

That said, Trump is doing the same thing. When he had his first lead, he decreased his rhetoric. When Trump's poll numbers dropped, he escalated the rhetoric to it's current levels. Trump knows how the game is played. If he gets the nomination, I'd expect us to see the real Trump.

A candidate who is overly beholden to their party's activists should expect to lose. Like McCain and Romney did.
 
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BFoy wrote:
I'm assuming we will see the real Hilary if she gets the nomination.


What? Why would you assume this?

How do you even know who the "real Hillary" is?
 
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jageroxorz wrote:
BFoy wrote:
I'm assuming we will see the real Hilary if she gets the nomination.


What? Why would you assume this?


The activists in each party might be happy with rhetoric but moderates and independents want pragmatic solutions to the country's problems. When the candidates pivot to the center, we will get a much better idea what they will do as president.

jageroxorz wrote:
How do you even know who the "real Hillary" is?


I don't. After the nomination, I will hopefully get a much better idea.
 
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Hilary is the democratic trump I hope republicans get rid of trump and democrats get rid of Hilary..
 
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sbszine wrote:
She comes across as insincere and also as part of that dynastic ruling class along with the Bush family and the Kennedys.
This is one meme I would like to see go away: The idea that somehow there is a "Clinton Dynasty." Bill Clinton's parents were Arkansas trash, and Hillary's lineage goes from a drapery salesmen and a housewife, back to Irish/Welsh immigrant coal miners.

Now, contrast that with Dubya, Dubya's dad (Bush 41, who ran the CIA before he was president) Dubya's gramps (who was a Wall Street banker) and Dubya's great-gramps (who was a railroad magnate.)

So in one case, you have an actual multi-generational dynasty, each building on the wealth of the prior generations (railroads, weapons, banks, oil, etc.) and on the other side you have a guy who rose up from nothing and his wife who rose up from the middle class. One is a "family dynasty" and one is clearly not.

I don't plan on voting for her, but the idea that the Clintons are somehow "American royalty" or "a dynasty" is silly and laughably inaccurate.
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JustinT1 wrote:
Hilary is the democratic trump I hope republicans get rid of trump and democrats get rid of Hilary..


Okay, that's just silly. You may not like Clinton (I don't) or what she says, but she is in no way a loose cannon like the Donald. Trump may be saying things a sizeable number of voters may like, especially when it comes to minorities, terrorism, and other politicians, but he is more crazy politically than George Wallace (Google him up young'ns).

Clinton is not only a career politician, she is married to the best politician of my lifetime and that goes back to Eisenhower. Trump is a very smart businessman who knows how to build name recognition, but he is a rank amateur when it comes to politics. Funny that the rightwing and Republicans bemoan Obama's lack of experience but embrace Trump for the same reason.

The cultural bias against women is real -- I have two daughters and I see what these 20-something Millennials struggle with on a daily basis.

Sadly, I am fairly certain she will be the next president of the United States. But, even more sadly, there is hardly anyone on the GOP side worth voting for, and those that are worthy are way, way back in the pack.
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remorseless1 wrote:
Funny that the rightwing and Republicans bemoan Obama's lack of experience but embrace Trump for the same reason.
I don't bemoan Obama's lack of experience, I bemoan his policies. And I don't embrace Trump. However, I'm definitely rightwing (liberals here have called me 'nutjob' and 'bitter and twisted') and Republican.
 
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remorseless1 wrote:
Sadly, I am fairly certain she will be the next president of the United States. But, even more sadly, there is hardly anyone on the GOP side worth voting for, and those that are worthy are way, way back in the pack.
Just out of curiosity, who do you think those are?
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fightcitymayor wrote:
sbszine wrote:
She comes across as insincere and also as part of that dynastic ruling class along with the Bush family and the Kennedys.
This is one meme I would like to see go away: The idea that somehow there is a "Clinton Dynasty." Bill Clinton's parents were Arkansas trash, and Hillary's lineage goes from a drapery salesmen and a housewife, back to Irish/Welsh immigrant coal miners.

Ok, another way of saying it: if her last name wasn't Clinton, she wouldn't have the tiniest chance of getting the nomination.
 
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sbszine wrote:
Ok, another way of saying it: if her last name wasn't Clinton, she wouldn't have the tiniest chance of getting the nomination.
She might if it were Obama instead.
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Kaitlyn_Res wrote:
sbszine wrote:
Ok, another way of saying it: if her last name wasn't Clinton, she wouldn't have the tiniest chance of getting the nomination.
She might if it were Obama instead.

True.
 
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Kaitlyn_Res wrote:
remorseless1 wrote:
Sadly, I am fairly certain she will be the next president of the United States. But, even more sadly, there is hardly anyone on the GOP side worth voting for, and those that are worthy are way, way back in the pack.
Just out of curiosity, who do you think those are?


Pataki, Kasich, and Paul would all be alright -- none of them are running on anything directly horrible to a liberal like the frontrunners are.

I'd probably vote for any of those three over Clinton, and I'm a filthy leftist.
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