The Hillary Standard

She’s running for president, people, not Prom Queen.

My grandparents just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They got hitched right after Grampa got back from the war. They’re both educated professionals. They’re proud Americans. We come from a long line of Southern Democrats. My grandparents, the mavericks, are first generation lifelong Republicans. Grampa has a portrait of Ronald Reagan in his bathroom. Not in the place that would make “trickle down” literal – let alone actually manifest – the portrait is near the sink, where he brushes his teeth. Every morning he wakes up and The Gipper is proudly smiling at him.

For my own amusement, the other day I asked Grama what she thought about Hillary Clinton. Now it may have been a bad cell phone connection, but I think I heard my otherwise sweet little Grama actually growl before saying, ”That woman…Ambitious.”

Which is EXACTLY what Clinton basher Christopher Hitchens said about Hillary. He noted her “overweening ambition” in his otherwise thin “case” (think grudge) against her in his latest Slate.com article.

With all due respect to Grama, there has to be something dark and twisted about the human psyche that only wants people who don’t want power to actually get it. Or maybe it’s just men are go-getters and women are ambitious. Or maybe it’s just Hillary. She has turned into a black light for Americans. Highlighting our dandruff and other things we would care not to have mentioned. Like the fact that we have no restraint when it comes to our viciousness toward her and can‘t come up with a good reason for it.

Her critics are starting to get really freaky with vehemence. People are starting to foam at the mouth. Chris Matthews, for example, is starting to look like Old Yeller right before they put him down.

For those of you who are not following this election that close because your more humane hobby of setting ants on fire with a magnifying glass is taking up most of your time, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, on Morning Joe the day after the New Hampshire primary said, “The reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around.” Then he went on to say, “She didn’t win on merit. She won because everybody felt, ‘my God this woman stood up under public humiliation’ – that’s what happened.”

So it’s not that voters respond to name recognition (cough – Schwarzenegger). It’s that she got sympathy votes? When has Hillary Clinton ever – ever gotten sympathy? Her enemies are so quick to hit below the belt that neutrality is the best I’ve seen for her.

Matthews later defended his comments and said that he was not sharing an “opinion” just historical interpretation. Which is like saying it’s not eggplant – it’s aubergine. It’s really the same thing.

Then after what was a week’s long outrage for his remarks he finally gave up. On his show Hardball, Matthews said, “Saying that Senator Clinton got where she’s got simply because her husband did what he did to her is just as callous, and I can see now, it comes across just as nasty, worse yet, just as dismissive.” That was big of him, but that comment was hardly isolated. He never thought that calling Clinton supporters “castratos in the eunuch chorus” was nasty and dismissive?

Politics is a blood sport, but even blood sports have sportsmanship – but not when it comes to Hillary. When her husband was  first running for president, back in 1992, a television reporter from Columbus, Ohio asked her, “You know, some people think of you as an inspiring female attorney mother, and other people think of you as the overbearing yuppie wife from hell. How would you describe yourself?”

You may be wondering the answer to that question. I’ll quote from A Time to Kill, “Now imagine she’s white.” Think of that question to anyone other than Hillary. Could you imagine another first lady hopeful, on the campaign trail EVER being asked that? Could you see anyone asking Barbara, Nancy or Laura that?? Hillary’s rapport with the press started way back then. Way back then in what the press dubbed as “The Year of the Woman.”

But just the word “ambition” used in the pejorative is baffling. “I disagree with her wanting to do anything with more prestige than she has right now.” In other words, she needs to know her place. And because she doesn’t know her place – don’t hold anything back. It’s not regular criticism. It’s like a reprimand and to used Matthews’ words “public humiliation” for not being more demure.

It’s as if she’s not liked because she’s a know-it-all. She’s running for president – we want a president to KNOW IT ALL.

It’s not even a double standard – it’s a special standard just for Hillary Clinton. It’s the Hillary Standard. And who can hold up to the Hillary Standard? No one. Not even Hillary.

It’s a reality show where otherwise, rational, intelligent people are showing their prejudices and blinding contempt. It’s tired. It’s boring. And it’s not discourse. It reminds me of the ironic quote by Voltaire, “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.”

Done.

Photo by Mark Nozell

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