You've got to give her credit, as the final performance of the Hillary Clinton Reinvention Tour was absolutely show-stopping. While she was talking about the woman in the hospice who died trying to vote for the first female president, I sort of forgot the fear-mongering "3am" and Osama ads, the not-so-subtle racial attacks, the "change you can Xerox" mudslinging and the "fun" part, quoting Karl Rove, and cheating in Florida and Michigan to "win" the popular vote. This Obamamaniac even cried a little, the same way I did on the day I graduated from UCLA, when I took a walk alone on the campus and thought of all the people who had sacrificed for me to be there.
Unfortunately, just being there isn't enough, and I wish I could be proud of our first viable female candidate's tactics as much as I begrudgingly respect her results. Any pride I had in seeing a woman narrowly miss the Democratic nomination was diluted by the knowledge that her hard-fought brand of equality is of the lowest common denominator. Today the end of Hillary Clinton's candidacy proved that a woman can be just as sneaky and misleading and desperate as a male politician faced with failure and the implosion of a chance at power. I wanted to be wooed by her lovely words and the momentous accomplishment, but as her supporters love to point out, rhetoric without action is moot.
Candy Crowley said in her post-game commentary on CNN that after the New Hampshire primary HRC realized she needed to gain traction with women under 40, who didn't appreciate the battle of old wave feminism and were leaning towards Obama. She noted that the campaign succeeded in educating the members of this group about the history of the struggle to break through glass ceilings. This comment was particularly incisive because it touches on the New Feminism that has prevailed in Obama's victory and explains why some of us young women are not doing cartwheels today to celebrate HRC's historic triumph.
By all calculations I should have been an HRC supporter. I was her passionate devotee as a teenager. I read any Hillary news I could find, went on a pilgrimage to DC and cried in the Sewall-Belmont House, and in AP Government I argued with pride defending the First Lady who didn't bake cookies. She was my hero because there were so few women role models in high-profile positions and I was still intellectually immature enough to make identity politics the foundation of my political platform.
But then I grew up and built a career and fell in love a few times and dreamed bigger than the various compartments of my life can ever seem to balance. Every day I don't know whether to put on my lipstick and look for one of those rare supportive men or fall asleep cuddling my BlackBerry, and no matter which I choose it seems like the other is going to pass me by. I watched my mother and my mentors try to do everything at once, and I'm not sure if it's worth it. I do know, however, that I don't want to wait my turn behind a pseudo-feminist man who sleeps with interns and degrades the values I proclaim to stand for. I would not parade him around on stage, flanked by my daughter and mother on the most historic day of the women's movement, a silent endorsement of another man who had a different concept of how executive power should be used.
So many Hillary supporters want to talk about misogyny these days, but no one wants to talk about the Clinton family's female empowerment issues. If we're going to write this day as the crescendo to parity in our history books, we don't get to ignore this aspect of their public life. We can all forgive them and admire the way they rebuilt their lives and continued to contribute to American society in the face of self-inflicted adversity, but can we trust them?
If you've ever seen the way Barack Obama looks at his wife and children, even for the minute they're on stage with him before a major speech, you can see his genuine love and admiration for them. Not only do I believe he truly respects women, it reinforces my confidence in his judgment and personal constitution, and thus his ability to govern with a moral compass and transparency. As a young woman making decisions about the future, this is a model that inspires me to hope for balance and equality.
We hear all about how hard it will be for Clinton supporters to get behind Obama, but it will also be very difficult for us to welcome her supporters into Obama Nation. Let's not let her excellent speech distract us from her record; I don't understand how any real progressive thinker or activist could respect the way she ran that campaign. We're going to need to stir up vats of Obama Kool Aid for these Clinton supporters because we don't want cheap shots, selective truthfulness and Microtrend Multiple Personality Disorder to seep into our organization.
For at least the next few days, it will remain hard to rally around her lovely, well-delivered words. We'll be waiting to see how many people become PUMAs and who makes the effort to extend or accept an olive branch. Perhaps I will overcome this emotional, knee-jerk reaction as the much ballyhooed "healing" process begins. Fortunately, I've met a rogue HRC supporter or two who seem capable of playing nicely with others, and I'll do my best to not push them off the monkey bars.
After all, girls wear pink and we're good at compromising.
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