Hillary Clinton's Over-Played Woman Card

Hillary Clinton's Over-Played Woman Card
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Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured “A Better World, Run By Women,” a rather hilarious essay penned by Emory anthropology professor Melvin Konner. As more women gain power around the world, Konner argued, the better our lives will be. “Research has found,” he wrote, “that women are superior to men in most ways that will count in the future.”

Konner was just warming up. “There is every reason to think that a future national hierarchy staffed and led by women who no longer have to imitate men, dealing with other nations similarly transformed, would be less likely to go to war,” he added. “But that’s not all. Sex scandals, financial corruption and violence are all overwhelmingly male.”

I assume he wrote this with a straight face. I also assume that he has never watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey, attempted to score half-price designer shoes at the Barney’s Warehouse Sale, or patronized a crowded Chuck E. Cheese’s that serves liberal amounts of alcohol in an over-the-hill and questionably located strip mall. (Hint: There are often fights.)

While it may have been dubious, content-wise—legendary tough cookies Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi, for instance, are written off as being corrupted by men—Professor Konner’s article was wonderfully timed. This Tuesday, America got a glimpse of the Woman Who Might Be Queen: former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, dragged into a press conference to answer long-dodged questions about her secret email server.

This is a server that (a) is widely believed to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of federal record-keeping laws; (b) has likely been blow-torched by now; and (c) may or may not have been hand-constructed by bored, underemployed computer security/texting expert Anthony Weiner.

I wonder if Mr. Konner, whose new book is entitled “Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy,” had a chance to watch Tuesday’s press conference, which followed Mrs. Clinton’s  snoozy United Nations speech on “gender equality.” Set in front of a depressing smudged wall—steps away, appropriately, from a print of Picasso’s wartime nightmare-scape “Guernica,” where everyone is either crying for help or trying to crawl away—it was a cringe-worthy, trenchant, and strangely delightful reminder of everything that is wrong with Hillary Clinton.

The only spark of life in Mrs. Clinton’s long-jaded eyes, in fact, came with the press conference’s you-can’t-make-it-up first question, posed by a Turkish reporter: “If you were a man today, would all this fuss being made be made?”

Suddenly, for a brief moment, Hillary was electric. Her life force flared. A long-strangled joy surged behind her pupils, brief and glorious, like a half-awake Katy Perry popping out of a birthday cake with streamers, then immediately slumping back to sleep.

It was all downhill from there, featuring bouts of thinly veiled anger, obsessive repetition of the word “convenience,” and the suggestion that a server can be physically guarded from hackers. Unfortunately for all of us, hackers do not need to hide in your wine cellar or office closet to break into your computer. It was comical, really. Yet, I doubt that many of those bewitched by the prospect of America’s first woman president saw the writing on the press conference wall: Hillary Clinton is a dog that just won’t hunt. Her days as a Democratic “frontrunner,” in fact, may be numbered. 

Here’s the thing: Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton. This might seem like an obvious point, but it’s often glossed over in the press coverage of Hillary’s would-be candidacy. Here’s NBC’s Chuck Todd, recapping this week’s train derailment, ahem, press conference: “There's one other important thing to remember about the Clinton Way: With just one big exception—in 2008 against Barack Obama—they win. Just look at the most recent NBC/WSJ poll. Bill Clinton is the most popular political figure in America with a 56 percent to 26 percent fav/unfav rating, and wife Hillary is just behind him at 44 percent to 36 percent.”

First of all, 44 percent doesn’t exactly make you the Beatles. Second of all, who is this “they” we speak of? Why do people keep referring to Bill and Hillary Clinton as if they are one conjoined unit, as opposed to people who probably hate each other and would likely try to drop hot irons on each other’s heads, “Home Alone” style, if they knew no one was watching? Is Hillary just an appendage of her philandering husband? What kind of anti-feminist nightmare is this? It’s also amusing to note that “the one big exception” to the Clinton winning streak, “in 2008 against Obama,” was—wait for it—a Hillary presidential bid. The winning “Clinton way,” alas, might be all about that Bill.

The only thing Hillary has going for her, really, is her Woman Card, which she plays repeatedly and shamelessly. Unfortunately for her, there’s another woman in the room: Elizabeth Warren, a purist progressive who’s not knee-deep in scandal-flecked mud 23 out of every 24 hours. Clinton, in short, is not inevitable.

Could I be wrong? Could Clinton snag the Democratic nomination, thanks to connections, money, and a general lack of sanity in the universe? Sure. It’s certainly possible. But if that’s the case—and if they manage to refrain from tossing up someone equally crazy—Republicans should rejoice.

Heather Wilhelm is a writer based in Austin,Texas. Her work can be found at  http://www.heatherwilhelm.com/ and her Twitter handle is @heatherwilhelm.

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