Is the sis­ter­hood of the trav­el­ling pantsuits crowd pack­ing up and leav­ing the Hi­lary Clin­ton camp?

Toronto Star - - TRAVEL & LIFE - Ju­dith Tim­son writes weekly about cul­tural, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal is­sues. You can reach her at ju­dith.tim­son@sym­pa­ and fol­low her on Twit­ter @ju­dith­tim­son.

Of all the death knells sound­ing the pres­i­den­tial hopes of Hil­lary Clin­ton (“Hil­lary Hob­bling! Dems have back­ups in the wings! Hil­lary los­ing steam!”), one par­tic­u­lar poll struck home.

A Washington Post/ABC poll re­ported that the front-run­ner’s num­bers among Demo­cratic fe­male sup­port­ers have de­clined sharply — from 71 per cent in July to 42 per cent eight weeks later.

That’s a huge chunk of the sis­ter­hood of the trav­el­ling pantsuits pack­ing their bags, des­ti­na­tion un­known. They are say­ing, in ef­fect, the his­tor­i­cal op­por­tu­nity of elect­ing the first fe­male U.S. pres­i­dent is not res­onat­ing as strongly as it used to, if that fe­male is Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Why? I can’t be­lieve it’s all about the email “scan­dal” in which Clin­ton as sec­re­tary of state ill-ad­vis­edly used her own pri­vate server to send and re­ceive emails. She has fi­nally of­fered a limp apol­ogy af­ter turn­ing over hun­dreds of thou­sands of emails for scru­tiny to the gov­ern­ment.

No, it’s about trust and how, as sev­eral sur­veys have re­ported, when peo­ple were asked the first word that came to their minds about Hil­lary, the bleak re­sponse was “liar.” Ouch.

And it’s even more about au­then­tic­ity, which has al­ways been Clin­ton’s weak­ness. How can you be­lieve a woman is the real deal if she con­stantly mar­kets her­self as some­one new — here comes a looser, fun­nier Hil­lary, now we have a sen­ti­ment-driven public fig­ure re­leas­ing poignant photos from her past, oh and don’t for­get Grandma, not to men­tion that Chipo­tle-go­ing good ol’ girl.

Enough! The truth — and it is out there — is that Clin­ton, as for­mer first lady, sen­a­tor, sec­re­tary of state and 2008 pres­i­den­tial hope­ful, is all of the above and more.

She may pri­vately be warm and folksy, but she’s also one tough cookie, and she should just do a Pop­eye and say “I yam what I yam.” In fact, she promised to do just that the last time I heard her speak in per­son, in­di­cat­ing she was through with hair do-overs and snarky com­ments about her clothes and she just was go­ing to be her­self.

Her­self is a strong, prickly, overly se­cre­tive, many times too de­fen­sive, but highly knowl­edge­able and ex­pe­ri­enced leader who could make a very good pres­i­dent ex­cept for the fact that she may not be able to win a cam­paign. And in a democ­racy, sis­ter, you gotta bring it to win it.

If you doubt Clin­ton’s strength, a speech she made last week to the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion think-tank about how she would han­dle the con­tro­ver­sial Iran nu­clear deal was tough enough to sat­isfy some of the deal’s many crit­ics (“dis­trust and ver­ify” is her mantra, with an al­most ar­ro­gant cod­i­cil of “Iran is not our part­ner, it is the sub­ject of the deal.” )

Clin­ton was crit­i­cized for sound­ing too mil­i­taris­tic but she sent some very nec­es­sary and strong sig­nals and the tim­ing was spot on, as that same week, the Ay­a­tol­lah re­leased a re­pug­nant state­ment say­ing Is­rael “the Zion­ist state” would not ex­ist 25 years from now.

I think for women to throw over Hil­lary now is, as Ju­lia Roberts as an am­bi­tious and fi­nally well-dressed hooker said to the snotty Bev­erly Hills sales clerks who wouldn’t serve her in Pretty

Woman: “Big mis­take. Big. Huge. I have to go shop­ping now.” Or as a tri­umphant Hil­lary might even­tu­ally say to the women who de­serted her: “I have to run the coun­try now.”

Of course she may never get there. I know Amer­i­can women in her age de­mo­graphic who think — sadly — she will with­draw pretty soon in the face of one or another scan­dal or set­back. And younger women, who no longer fo­cus at all on the “first fe­male” any­thing, might well be turned off by the fact that Hil­lary is their mother’s can­di­date.

But here’s a thought: The odi­ous Don­ald Trump, who in­sults women for break­fast, lunch and din­ner, is not go­ing away. His num­bers are spec­tac­u­lar and his brand of an­gry blow-hardism is woo­ing even fe­male vot­ers.

The truth is that Hil­lary has al­ways soared in pop­u­lar­ity when she is be­ing, well, screwed over by a man. When it was re­vealed that her hus­band, the Big Dawg, for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, had sleazily dis­torted the Rud­yard Ki­pling maxim “A woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke” by do­ing some­thing with young in­tern Mon­ica Lewin­sky and a cigar tube, Hil­lary’s num­bers started to soar. Mil­lions of fans flocked to sup­port Hil­lary as a wronged wife and good woman.

Imag­ine the sup­port she’d get with Trump in­evitably say­ing some­thing in­cred­i­bly slimy about her looks, her mar­riage or her abil­ity.

This may seem like a dirty way to win the White House, but who cares. It’s al­ready way too dirty out there, and some days I want to wear sur­gi­cal gloves when I even just click on the latest “straight from Trump’s piehole” news.

No, this is where Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ob­sti­nance, and her dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion, come in handy. She’s in loser hell and she needs to keep go­ing straight through it.

On the other side might not be par­adise but vin­di­ca­tion — those iffy fe­male sup­port­ers tak­ing another hard look and think­ing Hil­lary may not be any­where near per­fect. But she sure trumps the other real loser.

A chance to elect the first fe­male pres­i­dent is not res­onat­ing as strongly as it used to, if that fe­male is Hil­lary Clin­ton


Hil­lary Clin­ton may be seen as overly se­cre­tive and some­times too de­fen­sive. She’s also an ex­pe­ri­enced leader who would make a very good U.S. pres­i­dent, Ju­dith Tim­son writes.

Ju­dith Tim­son

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