Who Says You Can't Speak Ill of Hillary?

Story Stream
recent articles

The email sent on behalf of Hillary Rodham Clinton showed up in the inbox of a female New York Times correspondent Thursday, along with a preemptive threat: “You are on notice that we will be watching, reading, listening and protesting coded sexism," read the missive from “HRC Super Volunteers.”

Then came the list of words and phrases constituting “coded sexism,” at least to HRC Super Volunteers: "polarizing," "calculating," "disingenuous," "insincere," "ambitious," "inevitable," "entitled" and "over-confident." Nearly doubling George Carlin’s list of “7 Dirty Words,” Clinton’s loyalists added "secretive" and "will do anything to win,” “represents the past,” “out of touch” and “tone deaf.”

Since these expressions are not remotely sexist, and the threat displayed such an uncertain grasp of the media’s proper role, the broadside almost seemed designed to stir up the right wing. Conservatives did not disappoint. “The list seems somewhat incomplete, doesn’t it?” said former Washington state GOP chairman Kirby Wilbur. “Where are hag, witch and…” Well, you get the idea.

Typically, Rush Limbaugh was the most uninhibited. “The Clinton campaign has issued a list of words and terms to the Drive-By Media in the form of a threatening e-mail to a New York Times info-babe,” the talk show king told his listeners. “One word that's not on the list is ‘cankles.’  I guess everybody in the media is free to use the word ‘cankles.’”

Referring to Times reporter Amy Chozick as an “info-babe” is probably sexism by definition, but that raises another question about the email to her: How much chutzpah does it take to casually put a woman “on notice” that she is likely a sexist?

It’s so counterproductive a tactic that I initially assumed the whole thing was a Republican hoax. But a savvy Daily Mail info-babe named Francesca Chambers had a hunch that the email originated with John West, a former male model and professional landscaper from Hillary Clinton’s hometown of Chicago. Chambers tracked down West, who cheerfully confirmed his authorship.

But that demolished my theory that this was a Republican dirty trick. John West is an activist Democrat who played a role in Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. His comments to reporters epitomized political correctness. “As a gay man, I find sexism synonymous with homophobia,” he told the Washington Examiner. “We’re liberals and progressives. So we're very sensitive to that sort of stuff."

Contemplating the metaphysics of a gay man anointing himself feminism’s gatekeeper was like suddenly being back in the 1990s trying to divine what the meaning of “is” is. Then the subversive truth hit home: John West isn’t working for the Republicans or Hillary Clinton. He’s working for a fellow progressive, probably Elizabeth Warren, to defeat  Hillary. Or maybe Bernie Sanders. Not Jim Webb, but possibly Martin O’Malley or Jerry Brown. Then it occurred to me: No, he’s a Joe Biden guy! The man who single-handedly dragged Hillary and Bill Clinton—and Barack Obama—into the 21st century on gay marriage. John West wants the vice president promoted.

You doubt me? Think how those 13 “sexist” words and phrases were chosen, each one diabolically highlighting an obvious Clinton vulnerability—or a Biden virtue.

Take “polarizing.” Polls show that among independent voters, Clinton's favorable/unfavorable ratio is worse than almost every 2016 Republican contender. This is typical, as we live in politically polarized times, so all prominent pols—including George W. Bush and Barack Obama—have high negatives. Joe Biden, too, but he’s also the closer tapped by the White House when Obama actually wants to make a deal with congressional Republicans.

Let’s keep going.

Calculating:  Those 30,000 emails when Clinton was secretary of state that have gone missing in the Benghazi probes? Clinton didn’t set up a parallel email system to thwart congressional investigators. She set it up in 2009 before even being confirmed.

Disingenuous: “I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.” – HRC, at a March 10 news conference.

“I have, you know, an iPad, a mini-iPad, an iPhone, and a BlackBerry.” –HRC at a February 24 Silicon Valley conference for women.

Insincere: At a recent dinner honoring political journalism, Mrs. Clinton said, “We rely even more on reporters to try to get us out of the echo chambers we all inhabit.” Days earlier, a Clinton confidant explained why she had stonewalled the press on Benghazi: “Look, she hates you. Period. That’s never going to change.”

Let’s skip over “secretive” and “ambitious” because they are self-evident Clinton traits, which apply equally to Bill and Hillary; also, we’ll ignore “inevitable,” “entitled,” “overconfident,” “will do anything to win” and “represents the past” because they’re gender-neutral. But there’s two more:

Out of touch:  “We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” said the woman who bought, with her husband, a $1.7 million New York home and a $2.85 million D.C. home while still in office—not to mention the $3 million she earned in book royalties the year they left and the $10 million book advance Bill Clinton signed months later.

Tone deaf: “The fact is we had four dead Americans,” Clinton said after being hounded by Republican senators at a hearing on the Benghazi attacks. “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”

Now that’s a question Joe Biden could answer. As he whispered in Obama’s ear one day in 2010, “This is a big f------ deal!”

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

Show commentsHide Comments