Saturday, January 12, 2008

‘I Am Woman, See Me Cry’

What a sad night to have ovaries in America.

On Tuesday, tears evidently were enough to catapult Hillary Clinton to victory in New Hampshire.

The electoral Athena, reported to have callously coached her own daughter never to brandish emotion, turned on the waterworks Monday when a voter innocuously asked, “How do you do it?”

(And cringingly added, “Who does your hair?”)

“It’s not easy,” the Warrior Princess intoned gravely. And then her corneas glinted with something we humans know as teardrops.

Pundits did a 180 from their heavy breathing over Barack Obama’s win in Iowa into to breathless bewilderment that Hillary hath emotions, after all.

I imagine the tears were hard for Clinton to muster. It had to be a masochistic moment for her, although given her well-known marital history, she’s used to that.

But nothing else had worked, so why not.

Wait, you say. Isn’t it possible that her whimpering was real?

Of course, dear.

It couldn’t possibly be a MacBethian strategy in concert with Bill Clinton’s assault on the media’s “fairytale” coverage of Obama and her campaign’s wide-eyed insistence that if Hillary kept her loss down to double-digits, it would be a victory.

This couldn’t be the culmination of her “Likeability Tour” through Iowa a few weeks back, the saddest campaign concoction in recent memory evoking images of a hapless spinster selling herself and her 28 cats on

Sorry folks, the candidate brought those sexist stereotypes on herself.

They’re on par with Clinton’s rendition of, “I Am Woman, See Me Cry.” Not exactly a gutsy feminist anthem.

For the record, I am an unabashed feminist who thinks the word has gotten a bad rap and should be embraced by all men and women - conservative or liberal - who can agree that the fairer sex is not chattel.

I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to first- and second-wave women’s libbers who chained themselves to buildings and sat in jail so I could have the right to vote in this election and a column in which to grouse about it.

My liberal friends tell me I am exactly who should be voting for Hillary. St. Gloria Steinem herself has decreed it is our moral duty to install a woman in the White House.

Amen, sister. But as a student of history and a humanist, I fervently believe in electing the right candidate for the times.

And I think the Clintonian era of psychodrama and scandal has passed. Consider the fact that the entire premise for Hillary ’08 is a throwback to 1950s seedy pulp fiction.

She’s being slickly sold as the candidate of experience, having already done an eight-year stint at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Yes, but it was on the tea and crumpets circuit. Her grandiose health care initiative was one of the biggest domestic failures in modern history and Clinton was never trusted with anything that consequential again.

That is, until Bill couldn’t keep from pawing a bawdy intern and Hillary became - you guessed it - emotional. So distraught, in fact, that the only thing that could console her was running for a Senate seat up in New York.

When married to a serial philanderer, it’s good to find a hobby.

Clinton stood by her man – and on his broad shoulders to launch her own political career.

That makes her presidential campaign remarkably anti-feminist in my book. (Though I suppose she can take comfort that no one can top reliable GOP nut-job Pat Robertson, who called feminism a “socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”)

Naturally, my heresy has just invited hate mail that I would never dare castigate a man, a black man or Bessie the cow like this.

Yeah, check back with the overwhelmingly male legislators I inveigh against week after week.

Look, I’m not delusional enough to contend we’ve busted the glass ceiling and live in magical Equalityland now. I’ve been paid insultingly less than male reporters with less experience. My mug shot often garners more speculation than my prose.

No doubt, Hillary Clinton faces unique challenges as the first top-tier female presidential contender.

But her next move is utterly predictable: to obliterate Obama with a barrage of unseemly and unfounded attacks, probably employing others to do it (like, say, a perennially sorry spouse).

What we need now is a person of honor in the Oval Office, who will pledge an end to that kind of hyper-partisan, cancerous politics.

Hillary’s not our girl, to steal her own campaign line. She’s masterfully lined the old boys’ club behind her, playing the politics of personal destruction like it’s a parlor game.

And all along the way, she still plays the victim.

For that, you can cry me a river, honey.

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