We expect it from George Will, who today urges Barack Obama to go ahead and run for president in part because "he has, in Hillary Clinton, the optimal opponent. The contrast is stark: He is soothing; she is not." What he means, of course, is: He is soothing; she is shrill. He is smooth; she is calculating. He's a sweetheart; she's a bitch. George is too much of a gentleman to come right out and say all of that, but he doesn't need to. It's all palpably clear from the sexist rhetorical atmosphere he sets up in the contrast between "soothing" and its unnamed opposite. I didn't even need help from my moms the English profs to pick up on that one.
We've even gotten accustomed to it from Arianna Huffington, whose swipes at the junior senator from New York are a staple of her pontifications on Huffington Post. The swipes are so frequent and often so gratuitous that we've sometimes wondered whether the author of On Becoming Fearless isn't just a teensy bit afraid of Clinton.
Nonetheless, two years ahead of the presidential election of 2008, we here at Roxie's World are officially ticked off at all the Hillary-bashers. We are particularly put out with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, whose catty potshots at Clinton are as predictable as the tides. Her most recent column (which you can only access through Times Select) is as saturated in misogynistic stereotypes as George Will's is, and it's merely the latest example of her relentless attacks on the woman named in the headline over her column "Hillzilla." Cute, Mo. We love it when women engage in ad feminem attacks, depicting powerful women as scary, threatening, monstrous, unfeminine ("and we know that she's not a good dancer," Mo meows), and undeserving of her success. The low point of Dowd's assault is the assertion that Clinton's only message to voters is "simply the Divine Right of Clintons." Huh? Methinks Dowd has confused the Clintons with the Bushes and thought she was writing another column about the idiot boy king.
Here's the thing, kids. We here at Roxie's World are not ardent Hillary partisans. Indeed, longtime fans will recall that I endorsed Al Gore for president back in May, while my moms continue to dither and worry and ambivalate, which may not be a word but ought to be. Poor Democrats. The point is this: We're disgusted that the Democratic race has already been framed as a smackdown between race and gender and that over and over again, from right, left, and center, Hillary Clinton is being pilloried as bitch, shrew, and harridan. As "unelectable." As "calculating." As "cold." We have a world of admiration for Senator Obama. How could we not love a man who stood up at the Democratic convention in 2004 and declared that, "We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.
My friends, it will be a glorious day for America if the Democratic party offers voters Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, and Al Gore. I'll take that over an aging John McCain and a resurgent Newt Gingrich any day. Let's put 'em all out there in the public square and have a good old-fashioned debate. Spare us the smackdowns, the stereotypes, and the antediluvian resistance to powerful women. And, please, spare us Maureen Dowd working out her unfinished psychosexual business on the back of a woman who had the guts to believe that being "First Lady" was just the beginning of her extraordinary political journey.