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Did the s-word doom Hillary's nomination bid?

By Carey Roberts
web posted June 9, 2008

Like an over-hyped TV reality series that finally came to an end, Hillary has conceded the Democratic nomination race to Barack Obama. The Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee drove the final nail in the coffin, declaring the vote of the Florida and Michigan delegates would only count for half.

Predictably, the let-every-vote-count ladies were livid. "Someone wins, someone doesn't win, that's life," wailed Maryland treasurer Nancy Knopp. "But women don't want to be totally dissed."

Everywhere I turn, liberal women have lapsed into a deep funk. Katie Couric turned the CBS Evening News into a therapy hour. Female columnists ask dark questions about the state of the national psyche. After all, this was the year women were destined to elect the first female president and make up for 200 years of patriarchal oppression.

In the liberal mind, every adversity and setback can be blamed on a conspiratorial presence. Be it global warming, racism, classism, or sexism, a dark miasmatic force always can be singled out.

Hillary ClintonFor Hillary, sexism is the demon that requires a daily exorcism. In a May 20 interview with the Washington Post, Clinton hit the supposed sexism in media coverage of her campaign as "deeply offensive to millions of women."

Former vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro became so worked up over the issue that she has ponied up her own money for a full-blown study. As we know, Ferraro is an enlightened guru on racial tolerance, having revealed a few months ago that "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position."

So let's commence the Long March to examine how entrenched sexism spelled Hillary's defeat. I'll warn you, though, that this discussion will quickly turn into a murky exercise of Freudian psychology. As we know, unconscious gender bias is always lurking in the shadows -- so be careful about those eye-blinks, leg twitches, and crossed arms!

But really, folks, this is serious stuff – so exactly where's the beef?

For starters, some pundits made unflattering comments about Mrs. Clinton's cackle. But was that really sexist? Or was it just a colorful way of referring to her loud and silly laugh?

And then the cleavage commentary. Those remarks can be traced back to a July 20 column by Washington Post fashion editor Robin Givhan. Has sexism become so embedded in our culture that even women fall prey to its allure?

In February Jack Nicholson exclaimed, "Hillary is the best man for the job." During an Indiana rally, Hillary did a take-off on Nicholson's endorsement, bragging, "real men vote for Hillary."

That comment was clearly insensitive to the ladies in the crowd because she said nothing about "real women," right?

Last month at a gathering of sheet metal workers, Sen. Evan Bayh described Hillary as having "testicular fortitude," a characterization that she did not resist. Then Hillary booster James Carville bragged that if she gave Obama "one of her cojones, they'd both have two."

A couple months before Rush Limbaugh made a wisecrack that "Mrs. Clinton's testicle lockbox is big enough for the entire Democrat hierarchy."

So were those comments sexist, or merely an example of the spirited discourse that marks any hard-fought political campaign?

Oh, and before I forget, there was Barack Obama's gaffe to a female reporter in Detroit: "Hold on a second, sweetie." Now there's real sexism.

If we look at the other side of the coin, Hillary has some S-word skeletons in her own closet -- like the time she dismissed Southern white male voters with the vulgar, "Screw them. Let's move on."

And her sense of humor sometimes comes across as a gender put-down: "When I look at what's available in the man department, I'm surprised more women aren't gay," she once quipped.

(Lest you think that gibe is humorous, try switching the language: "When I look at what's available in the woman department, I'm surprised more men aren't celibate.")

The truth is, Hillary didn't lose the nomination because of sexism. All the polls showed the great majority of voters said the candidate's sex was unimportant – and those voters who said gender does matter tended to side with Mrs. Clinton. Whatever sexism existed worked in her favor.

Clinton lost her historic bid because her message was shrill, her strategy flawed, and in the end her public persona became inauthentic.

So before we launch into any "long overdue dialogue" on sexism, maybe we should recognize it for what it is -- a con-job by the purveyors of the politically correct. ESR

Carey Roberts is a Staff Writer for The New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.


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