(Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma, Associated Press)
Why is this woman smiling?
Or could it be she heard she has gained the coveted endorsement of America's favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball? Yes, it's true, kids. We've finally decided to climb down from the fence and hop on the bandwagon. We are ready to do publicly what our hearts, heads, and the moms have been telling us privately to do for months. Roxie's World is going with the girl. We do hereby endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for president. (You can get on the bandwagon, too, of course. Give to Clinton's campaign here.) (You might also want to click on the special song we loaded into the Roxie Music Box in honor of Senator Clinton while you read the rest of this post. Just a suggestion. Roar.)
But, Roxie, you may be thinking, what about her foreign policy votes, including that most recent one on Iran? What about the consistent pattern of splitting differences and tacking to the center, in that Democratic Losership Council style of politics that I know you and the moms deplore? What about the weaselly position on marriage equality, pretending to be opposed to same-sex marriage while promising to support extending the same set of rights and protections to gay couples under some less incendiary name?
I know, I know, kids, but sit down. This tired old dog blogger has something important to tell you: We live (and vote) in the real world. John Edwards and Barack Obama are the only other Democratic candidates who stand a realistic chance of being elected, and when you go down the line on the issues there really isn't that much that separates them from Clinton. Oh, sure, Edwards has found a good line on poverty and deserves credit for getting the issue back on the political radar screen, but voters don't think he's ever done anything but try to get elected president. Same with Obama, and most of his positions are as centrist as Clinton's or even slightly further to the right. They are great guys, but neither of them would score significantly higher on the scale of left-wing political purity than Clinton would. Neither would bring American troops home from Iraq on his first day in office. And neither would survive the gravitas and experience test that Republicans are sure to set up in order to generate support for the creepy field of candidates from whom their nominee will be chosen.
Rest assured our support for the junior senator from New York is not based primarily on pragmatism or a cynical desire to win at any cost. As regular readers know, we've watched Senator Clinton closely over the past several months and have been impressed with her evolution as a candidate and with the smooth operation of her estrogen-fueled campaign machine. We are excited by the unprecedented combination she offers of leadership experience and the opportunity to make history. We've been moved to see her growing mastery of the difficult challenge of coming across as both womanly and presidential, which seems impossibly oxymoronic by the gender norms of American culture. We've been delighted to see her do all of this while projecting a sense of warmth and humor she has not always seemed comfortable displaying in public.
Which brings us, of course, to the subject of the Clinton "cackle." We have on several occasions in the past couple of months praised Clinton for having the confidence to laugh in the harsh glare of the media spotlight. Suddenly, it seems, everyone else is noticing the candidate's willingness to exercise her funny bone, but the general reception has not been as warm as it has been here among the funny women of Roxie's World. It all started with an admittedly hilarious bit Jon Stewart did on The Daily Show suggesting there was something robotic about Clinton's tendency to burst out laughing during a series of interviews she did on the Sunday chat shows. From there, the subject snowballed into a full-fledged media much ado about nothing. (Wa Po media critic Howard Kurtz has a good analysis of the snowballing here.) (BuzzFeed has links to a bunch of the commentary and video here.) One commentator compared Clinton's laugh to the infamous Howard Dean scream and warned that it could get blown out of proportion. (Well, maybe, if folks like you compulsively dissect it because you have nothing better to do!) Some have noted the sexist double standard in much of the reaction: Clinton is damned if she doesn't laugh because it proves she's a humorless feminazi; she is damned if she does laugh because it proves she is either a) an automaton trying to pass herself off as human or b) a maniacal Bertha Mason who'll end up howling in the rafters on Pennsylvania Avenue if we're not real careful.
This old dog loves laughing women and knows that a leader who cannot laugh or who laughs at people rather than with them is not to be trusted to exercise power with humility and compassion. My friends, Roxie's World endorses the woman in this race with the hearty laugh. May she have cause and courage to laugh loud and long in the course of her extraordinary journey. Peace out.