Hil­lary re­veals how she never learned to play the game

Starkville Daily News - - FORUM -

Fem­i­nist pol­i­tics turned a cor­ner with the fi­nal de­feat of Hil­lary Clin­ton.

You can feel it in and be­tween the lines of her blamegame book “What Hap­pened.” The ex­u­ber­ance of her sup­port­ers, which buoyed her in her cam­paign to be elected the first woman pres­i­dent, has dis­si­pated. All she has left is a mem­oir of an angry woman rag­ing that her time has passed, that the abun­dant fruit of op­por­tu­nity that fell from the fam­ily tree was crushed be­yond hopes of redemp­tion and there's noth­ing left to put in a new bot­tle but old whine.

Clin­ton was al­ways about sex­ual pol­i­tics. She wasn't the right kind of woman to be the first woman pres­i­dent. She was de­pen­dent on the old pre-fem­i­nist at­ti­tudes she scorns, and she didn't know how to ma­nip­u­late at­ti­tudes to her ad­van­tage. Get­ting a man who could get there first was cru­cial to her strat­egy, and af­ter she got the man, Bill Clin­ton, she didn't know how to make the strat­egy work.

Un­like for­mer Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ters Mar­garet Thatcher or An­gela Merkel, she had to suf­fer through the pow­er­ful-man syn­drome with a hus­band whose hand in mar­riage pulled her onto a na­tional stage, first in the un­fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory of Arkansas as a gover­nor's wife and then at the White House as first lady. In Arkansas, af­ter an ed­u­ca­tion at Welles­ley Col­lege and Yale Law School, she was slow to learn to read the lo­cal po­lit­i­cal cul­ture. She kept her maiden name, which en­raged the good ol' boys, in­fu­ri­ated their wives and cost her hus­band re-elec­tion for a tra­di­tional sec­ond term.

She then took his di­rec­tion and his name, put on more wom­anly clothes and made friends with the na­tives. She re­turned with Bubba to the gover­nor's man­sion again. This time, re­luc­tant or not, she was a du­ti­ful “wife of.”

Many of Clin­ton's col­lege class­mates thought she was des­tined to be the first woman pres­i­dent, but she wouldn't gam­ble on en­ter­ing high-stake pol­i­tics un­der her own power. She gained power through mar­riage, cul­ti­vat­ing a choice made when she was young and col­lect­ing con­nec­tions formed through her hus­band. But th­ese con­nec­tions failed her when she went for the prize at the top.

Clin­ton never tran­scended her pacts with the devil or learned how to ap­ply the cru­cial touch of au­then­tic­ity nec­es­sary for suc­cess in the pub­lic arena. Sub­stance be­came sec­ondary. Her lack of mes­sage, or even her lack of iden­tity as “lib­eral” or “mod­er­ate,” as re­vealed in the in­fa­mous leaked emails of her cam­paign staff, was the fa­tal flaw. No­body trusted her.

She was pop­u­lar enough with her col­leagues in the Se­nate, but they un­der­stood

that she was only bid­ing her time. Af­ter her failed run for the pres­i­dency in 2008, the Se­nate be­came a lack­lus­ter nest and she leaped at the op­por­tu­nity to show her met­tle as sec­re­tary of state. Her most vis­i­ble ac­com­plish­ments were the fre­quent miles she trav­eled and the num­ber of coun­tries vis­ited, rather than any sub­stan­tive achieve­ment.

Fem­i­nists raised their voices as Clin­ton rose to run for pres­i­dent a sec­ond time. Gone were the as­sur­ances of her first cam­paign: that she was not run­ning as a woman but as some­one who could get things done. Her age was show­ing, and she failed to gal­va­nize the younger fem­i­nists who had im­posed more rig­or­ous stan­dards for the sis­ter­hood. Stand­ing by her man had once served both her and Bubba well, but women from

Bubba's ear­lier life reprised nasty ac­cu­sa­tions of crude sex­ual ag­gres­sion in 2016. This di­luted the im­pact of then­can­di­date Don­ald Trump's “locker room” tape.

Slick Willy was an al­ley cat, but he was a nat­u­ral at the game of pol­i­tics. The Clin­tons were al­ways a pack­age mar­keted as “buy one, get one free,” and fer­vent fem­i­nists re­vealed them­selves as hyp­ocrites by sup­port­ing her sup­port­ing him. Many women,

par­tic­u­larly in fly­over coun­try, wouldn't buy that.

With the pow­er­ful in­sight of hind­sight, Clin­ton's look­ing to tri­umph as a fem­i­nist us­ing her hus­band as a step­ping­stone was never go­ing to work. Bubba played by the old rules of mas­culin­ity, and she was vul­ner­a­ble to the new rules of fem­i­nism. Theirs was a clash be­tween per­sonal pol­i­tics and cul­tural per­cep­tion. She now says she never wanted to be the “woman can­di­date” but rather

“the best can­di­date” whose ex­pe­ri­ence as a woman in a male­dom­i­nated cul­ture had made her sharper, tougher and more com­pe­tent. That's not how it hap­pened.

It's not at all clear why she wrote this book, be­cause it opens sores to set­tle scores and is a re­minder of past fail­ure, not some­thing to soothe the pain of those whom she let down. It's a tale of a woman scorned, not by one man but “mil­lions of white peo­ple,” as she glibly for­mu­lated

it in an in­ter­view with Jane Pauley of CBS. She blames the “sex­ism and misog­yny” of those mil­lions. They blamed her, and they got the last word.

Write to Suzanne Fields at suzan­nefields2000@gmail.com. Suzanne Fields is cur­rently work­ing on a book that will re­visit John Mil­ton’s “Par­adise Lost.” To find out more about Suzanne Fields and read her past col­umns, visit the Cre­ators web­page at www. cre­ators.com.


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