Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hillary: A Valediction

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move . . .
-- John Donne
(Photo Credit: Barbara Kinney, Hillary Clinton for President)

We’re one bitch shy of a full pack here in Roxie’s World this weekend, kids. Goose is down in Texas, being a big muckety-muck at some conference and trying to save the Lone Star state for Hillary Clinton. Meantime, back here on the couch, my typist and I are bracing ourselves for Tuesday. Again, Goose wouldn’t want us to say this, but our blogger’s oath to call a spade a spade compels us to say that we think Senator Clinton is going to lose (if only, alas, by not winning big enough) and could be out of the race by the end of this coming week. We hope we're wrong, but if we're right y'all come right back here for some major commiseration, okay?

(You may have noticed that the two English profs of Roxie’s World have significantly different theories about the relationship between language and reality. Goose’s theory boils down to her oft-repeated assertion that “People believe what you say about yourself.” So, in other words, if we say that Hillary Clinton is going to lose, we increase the likelihood of her doing so by contributing to the perception of her vulnerability or by upsetting some kind of karmic apple cart. To which Moose replies, “My gut tells me this is what’s coming, and I need to prepare for it. Saying a thing does not make it so [e.g., ‘Mission Accomplished’], and not saying it doesn’t prevent it from happening.” If we were philosophically inclined, we would probably have some fancy label for their different positions in this vexing doctrinal dispute [Goose = magical thinker? Moose = gritty realist?], but, fortunately, we are a humble dog blog and are therefore not obliged to put a paw into this particular pile of doo-doo.)

So, with Goose away, Moose is free to give into the waves of dread and anticipatory sorrow she feels about Texas, Ohio, and a whole bunch of other stuff – you know, democracy in America, the persistence of misogyny, the crude pitting of race against gender in media framings of a range of social and political issues. Oh: and whether the Non-Lady Terps can manage to snag an at-large berth into the upcoming NCAA Tournament. (It is March, children, and you know what that means in Roxie’s World.)

In her restless movement back and forth between TV and internets, Moose has noticed that something distinctly elegiac has suddenly crept into the tone of the coverage of Clinton. That was evident in the weekly political analysis of Mark Shields and David Brooks last night on PBS’s NewsHour. Brooks spoke in hushed tones of a campaign that had lost its fight and is in effect on life support, suggesting that if Clinton loses on Tuesday, she will be entitled to the political equivalent of death with dignity: “She deserves 36 hours or whatever is necessary after that, if this does happen, to make up her own mind, to do it on her own terms.” HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME, you feel Brooks muttering under his breath, before offering up a token gesture of pity a moment later: “I sense a lot of people who are fervent Obama supporters, at this stage, they have some sense -- they feel a little sorry for Hillary Clinton, because they like her, and they don't want to see her hurt, and they feel she's hurting now.” They like her? Boy, that’s news, isn’t it? I thought everybody hated Hillary!

Elegy is also the mode of Walter Shapiro’s “Hillary at Twilight” in Salon and of Emma Brockes’s “Hillary’s Last Stand” in The Guardian. Gail Collins’s New York Times column on Thursday even ends with a kind of epitaph for Clinton:
Here’s what I hope [Clinton] understands. She’s done fine. And she’d probably have won the nomination walking away if Barack hadn’t picked this moment to mutate into BARACK!

You do your best, and if things don’t work out, it just wasn’t your time. Life isn’t always fair.
Having talked her candidacy to death, the press can now be magnanimous. We beat the bitch, so let’s make nice. Let’s honor her grace, her accomplishment, her strenuous but ultimately futile effort. Let’s bury her in the pine box of history and get back to the party. Yes, we can!

And yet: Why does Moose choke up every time she reads those lines from Collins about doing your best and life not being fair? Why does it move her, that rhetorical gesture of one woman saying of another woman’s effort, “She’s done fine?” It could be because it meshes with many moments of women letting their guard down and connecting over Clinton’s candidacy that Moose has noted or experienced lately: the high-level woman administrator who bragged about coming out to the higher-level male administrator about her support for Clinton; the colleague who stopped dead in her tracks in a big, busy office, reached out a hand, and couldn’t stop talking about all that had gone wrong for Clinton; the Republican (but mostly apolitical) sister whose voice broke on the phone when she asked, “Do you really think she doesn’t have a chance?” and confessed she had planned to vote for her.

Middle-class, middle-aged women have not been filling arenas or falling into faints for Hillary Clinton. We have not for the most part taken leave from our jobs, sold our homes, or abandoned our children to hit the campaign trail for her. But that doesn’t mean we weren’t invested in her candidacy or that we weren’t pulling for her to break, as she put it, America’s “highest glass ceiling.” And it doesn’t mean we didn’t notice every effort to demean or dismiss her – “likable enough,” “because her husband messed around,” “cold,” “calculating,” “cunning,” “old.” It doesn’t mean we didn’t notice the disrespect shown by Senate colleagues who chose to endorse a younger male senator with far less experience or the cowardice of a national political party organization that allowed the debacles of Michigan and Florida to happen, robbing Clinton of two victories that might have turned the course of the race. And it doesn’t mean we won’t be watching closely to see how the party and the man who seems on the brink of defeating her will handle the next delicate stage of this historic campaign.

Roxie’s World has never said Hillary Clinton was a perfect candidate. We have acknowledged the flaws of her campaign and the disappointments in her record, but we supported her because we were impressed with her command of the issues and judged her to be the best candidate in the field. We also recognize that identification may be one of the lower forms of political emotion, but in these fleeting moments of women speaking quietly to one another of their shock, disappointment, and wounded pride, we may glimpse the outlines of the larger political tasks awaiting us. The ceiling still hasn’t been broken. Access to abortion in the United States is so limited that it might as well be illegal. Wage inequities persist. The planet is dying. Wars rage on all kinds of fronts, because violence is the toxic political air we breathe. You know the litany.

Yes, when women of a certain age and class look at Hillary we see a lot of our selves -- the tests we took, the dreams we had and have, the hard bargains we struck with life, the moments when our best efforts fell short. As we watch what feels like the end of one part of her amazing journey, Clinton achingly reminds us of all the smart girls who never felt pretty enough, all the pretty girls who still thought their ankles were fat, all the good girls who colored inside the lines and stayed late to help clean up. All true, all valid emotionally, but that’s not all. We have been looking at her for sixteen years, and now perhaps we can finally see her – Hillary Clinton is the unfinished work of feminism. If we don’t do it, who will?

Now, women and beautiful non-women, get out your hankies, roll up your sleeves, and click on over to some of these inspiring, inciting, delighting links:
  • Take a listen to this episode of Tom Ashbrook's On Point, which features Ellen Goodman, Geraldine Ferraro, Pat Schroeder, and Katha Pollitt on the timely subject of gender and the Clinton campaign (with thanks to the creative genius behind the late, great qta* for sending this our way);
  • Check out Feministe's careful analysis of Obama's hemming and hawing on choice. Goose has been grousing about this issue for months, and it looks like she may be on to something;
  • Go read this week's archive of Doonesbury strips over at Salon. It can be hard to figure out whose side Trudeau is on, but his skewering of an English course on the poetry of Barack Obama does make the senator look like a bit of an empty suit;
  • Moose insists you read this incredibly weird story that was in this morning's WaPo about a couple of young women from Maryland's Eastern Shore who participated in a beauty contest and muskrat-skinning competition during the 63rd Annual National Outdoor Show in Golden Hill, MD. Why? Because it's nice to see that a spot or two of local color survives in our wired, homogenized world and because there just has to be something fascinating going on with gender in a competition that combines evening gowns and, we will say it again, muskrat-skinning.
Carry on, beloveds -- all puns intended.

*Roxie's World officially mourns the passing of qta --our first pal and role model in the blogosphere, authored by one of the best guys we know in the real world. We want qta to finish that diss so y'all will have to call him Dr. qta, but we will sorely miss those regular doses of queer wit, exquisite taste, and righteous pro-Hillary ranting. Love you, qta, mean it, sincerely.

Update: Here is the video of Senator Clinton's cameo last night on Saturday Night Live. Let me say this, kids: If she is on her way out of this race, she is going out with grit and a sense of humor. That's part of why we admire her and why, despite everything we've said in this post, we're not entirely counting her out yet. We're with her, as her husband memorably put it in 1992, "until the last dog dies," and this old dog ain't near dead yet. Keep the faith.

23 comments:

  1. Goose MUST chime in. Keep your chin up, Moose, and don't give in to what OTHER PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT HILLARY CLINTON. Remember, both Moose and Goose have been underestimated. . .and those who have done so have not looked so smart in the end. Roxie, did you watch Saturday Night Live tonight? Have you seen how the polls in Texas are all dead even or show Senator Clinton AHEAD? Same for the polls in Ohio. And what about that OTHER STORY in WaPo's Sunday edition: "Obama: A Thin Record for a Bridge Builder" -- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/29/AR2008022902784.html?hpid%3Dopinionsbox1&sub=AR.
    or you can check it out here:
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/03/more_evidence_of_obamas_bipart.html.
    This whole business about Obama and ambition should not be ignored, Roxie. . .and the echoes from Jesus Christ Superstar, "you've begun to matter more than the things you say."

    I want a President who cares about being effective, who wants to enfranchise the voters of Florida and Ohio, who can talk clearly about how to get us out of Iraq, and who convinces me that she understands the issues, and who has a long history of working across the aisle in Congress and with all sorts of constituencies.

    I urge you to post the clip of SNL's critique of NBC's own Brian Williams and Tim Russert's obvious biased handling of Tuesday's debate, as well as the appearance tonight of the Junior Senator from New York.

    As Emily Dickinson would say, I write In POSSIBILITY (which your post today finally could not resist, I'll point out; seize your own optimism),
    Goose

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  2. Roxie, I hadn't expected to be sniffing sadly into my morning coffee...but your command of the elegiac is powerful. We're not there yet, though ... and my British mom persists in saying, to anyone who will listen, Remember Tony Blair. Remember how Young and Hopeful and Charismatic and Full of Promises for Change he was. And Look What We Got. [nonetheless, says a niggling historical voice, also look what happened when the ultimate political glass ceiling was broken there by a certain woman back in 1979...but that was another country, and besides, ... and and and and...]

    Nonetheless, and while refusing completely to bring out the full mourning panoply of crepe and blinds and plumed horses just yet, I'd recommend this morning's lead LA Times piece on exactly the same theme

    http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-feminists2mar02,0,4892434.story

    Be sure to scroll down to Billie Jean King at the end...

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  3. awwww. Thanks Roxie. Love you too.

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  4. Told y'all Goose would say something like that. ;-)

    We're not in full-on mourning yet, and we'll get the SNL vid up as soon as it's available. Meantime, Moose is going downtown for brunch this morning. I decided she needed to get out of the house!

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  5. Roxie,

    Hillary thrives on setbacks, and uses them as catapults — just look at her history — there's no denying that. If she loses this bid for the Presidency, she will set her sights toward far more substantive accomplishments in the Senate, where I think she had been holding herself back, because of the upcoming run for the Presidency (as had Obama also). There is continuous dialogue in NYC everywhere I go on the Hillary vs. Obama vs. McCain situation. The other day lunching alone in the back of a restaurant, I got a most fascinating earful of respect for Hillary Clinton from some Wall Street businessmen and the fact of her being a woman never came up! Wow!

    RutgersAlumna

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  6. Historiann6:02 PM EST

    Roxie--your readers don't have to go to Texas to help out--they can help by using their free mobile phone minutes this afternoon and tomorrow night making calls to get out the Texas vote for HRC! Just go to http://tools.hillaryclinton.com/calling/, set up an account (fast and easy), and you can get to work. You can make as many or as few phone calls as you like, and pick up where you dropped off last. It's really easy, and I'm finding that there are a lot of old ladies in small towns in Texas who are voting (or have already voted) for Hillary. Even just 5 or 10 calls may squeeze out a few more votes, and as we know, every vote counts!

    Historiann.com

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  7. Hey, thanks, Historiann, and welcome to Roxie's World. Goose has been making phone calls down in Texas, and her sister actually spent most of a day last week driving Chelsea around Dallas!

    Hit the phones, folks, and help prove me and Moose wrong.

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  8. Amen, Historiann -- Thanks for giving the URL for those who want to help out Senator Clinton by making calls. So get to work women and men and all dawgs who care about real change and peace and justice for all. Down here in Texas, I've found Republicans who are going to vote for Senator Clinton, as well as men who care about their country and want to vote for the most qualified candidate, not to mention the many women who share the same passion for true change and for someone who is more than a dreamer centered on himself, someone who is a practical visionary who cares about the commonwealth and who has proven she can really get things done.

    I am so happy that a business trip put me down here in Texas for these last few days, for the fact that my sister got an insider's look at the deep commitment of the Clinton campaign (driving Ms Chelsea, she overheard just how absolutely devoted to making a real difference for citizens the Clinton team actually is. . .we all knew that, but the media would make us believe that she is just about ambition, as it seems increasingly clear Senator Obama is. . .and I am not happy to write that, by the way, but if you listen to what he says, that does indeed seem to be the case).

    Peace and justice and healthcare for all,
    Goose

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  9. Oh, and DO check out what wise Lucyfur recommends re: the LATimes piece. Forgot to say that. . . .Lucyfur and her very wise woman should be heeded. . . .
    --Goose

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  10. Go Texas!!!

    THE DAY THE MOUNTAINS MOVE
    Yosano Akiko (1878-1942)

    The day the mountains move has come.
    I speak, but no one believes me.
    For a time the mountains have been asleep,
    But long ago they all danced with fire.
    It doesn't matter if you believe this,
    My friends, as long as you believe:
    All the sleeping women
    Are now awake and moving.

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  11. Dead Japanese women poets for Hillary! Hooray! Vote early, vote often!

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  12. Historiann10:56 AM EST

    Very cool that your sister had the up close & personal with Chelsea, Goose. HRC clearly was and is a great mother--Chelsea is a class act who's been nothing but a credit to her parents. Even the right-wing crazies couldn't find anything nasty to say about the Clintons' wonderful daughter.

    A four-year old girlchild of my very close acquaintance has been following "Senatorella"'s campaign closely. She sat on my lap two weeks ago and upon her request, watched Clinton's speech at the Virginia Jefferson-Jackson day dinner (!). At then end of the speech, she said, "I want to be just like Senatorella when I grow up. I want to be a Senator--no--I want to be President!"

    Historiann.com

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  13. YEE HAW! Hillary won Rhode Island BIG; she won Ohio BIG; and her lead in Texas KEEPS GROWING even as I write. Rox, my 88-yr-old Mom, born the year women got the right to vote, and her 88-yr-old best friend CAUCUSED tonight in their precinct in Austin, as did our niece, as did our sister (she was up in Dallas; oh, and she hung out with Hillary Clinton and Rob Reiner today).

    Remember, people DO believe what you say about yourself, and Hillary Clinton herself has never lost faith. She'll be a great POTUS, gang. Let's make sure that the gas bags on MSNBC and elsewhere don't undermine this great woman.

    YEE HAW!!! Historiann, I love the story of those girls. And a guy at the caucus my Mom and her friends attended thanked them, saying that his mom had so wanted to vote for Hillary Clinton for president, but she had died before she got the chance. He thanked them for doing so.

    Go Woman Go!
    --Goose

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  14. RutgersAlumna6:41 AM EST

    Thanks dear Goose, Moose and Historiann (great name!), thanks Roxie, for your unwavering, your wonderfully faithful support of Hillary! I don't watch television commentary — its too unkind — and so many of the blogs, including Huffington Post, have done so much Hillary bashing, they're not really much of an option either. So I've greatly enjoyed tagging along with you all in Roxie's World! You are much appreciated!

    RA

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  15. Roxie, we kept the faith here on Orange Road in the grand state of the Floribbean. Mommy predicted Hill would win and win 3 - this is why as she told all her politico friends -

    1) Ohio and Texas are not "effete" college states

    2) Kids (aka college students) have short attention spans and OBAMA'S WAVE HAS CRESTED.

    The sad thing was the response she got, even from the Hillary supporters. "Oh no, she has to get out! This is so bad for the party."

    We say fekk the party, man, we'll meet you in Hawaii! Surf is up for Hillary!!!!!!!!

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  16. Goose weighing in here to let Roxie's readers know that her typist is already out SHOPPING FOR CROW to serve for dinner this evening. She's hoping that Candy Man will prepare it, and will bathe it in a nice red wine reduction sauce. After picking up the crow, Roxie's typist has a meeting at the university and a class to teach, but she's assured Rox (who'll be at the groomer all day, getting all gussied up for the celebratory dinner) that she'll eat that crow and type for her this evening.

    GO HILLARY GO! And. . . .do check out Lil'Bush on Comedy Central http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/lil_bush/index.jhtml, go to Videos, and play "Gay Friends." Make sure you go all the way to the end ;)

    Ooooo, aaaaaah,
    I'm a believer, I couldn't leave her if I tried,
    Raise Hell, Hillraisers,
    Goose

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  17. Thanks to Goose, I just sat through a meeting on my favorite subject, Learning Outcomes Assessment, with the sounds of the Monkees bouncing around in my head. I am sorry, loyal denizens of Roxie's World, that I have a day job that prevents me from spending the entire day happy dancing here in the blogosphere with all y'all, but, hey, we will get to that this evening. For now, suffice it to say I have never been so thrilled to have been so totally, completely, breathtakingly WRONG. I bow humbly before the unbearable rightness of Goose and celebrate the faith of all ye who gather here daily. You are beautiful & strong.

    Later, friends.

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  18. So my Mom has it all figured out - this should be Hill's next move - She should have a press conference and announce that to assure unity, if nominated, she will ask Obama to be her VP. It will undercut him. If he says he wouldn’t consider it, he looks selfish; if he says he’s going to be the nominee, he looks arrogant.

    Bussie Kissies
    Buster

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  19. Hey Buster,

    How prescient of you! Clinton alluded to the possibility of the dream ticket this morning on CBS, I think. I wonder if Obama is too petty to accept the offer? I don't know about y'all, but I find it telling to watch how he acts in the face of overwhelming defeat. Sure, he lost Texas by a slim margin, but not Ohio. Last night, the talking heads on CNN were so circumspect when it came to Clinton's lead in Texas, reminding us that counties with predominately black cities had yet to report. I went to bed thinking Obama would bounce back. I awoke with one helluva a surprise!

    I sure hope I get to sup on the crow the Candyman's making!

    The Official Prep School Teacher of Roxie's World.

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  20. my mom in her 87 years of experience has been polling the workers at her nursing home -- many immigrants, mostly women of color, and ALL of them for Clinton.

    she has been saying that mn will be happy

    then this morning she has been crowing that mn should be ready to dance!

    dance draws, katie

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  21. RutgersAlumna9:31 PM EST

    Roxie, I absolutely do not want to read a post about your eating crow. You were lovingly trying to prepare your readers for a possible disappointment, that's all.

    I too have a job and need to get back to things, and will take a break after this.

    Hugs, RA

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  22. Yep-totally teary eyed. That's so awesome

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  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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