Just the other day the thought crossed my mind: a year from right now, we'll be ass-deep in the presidential primary debates -- the seemingly countless televised cattle-calls in which each of the five-dozen-or-so hopefuls from each party will take their best cheap-shots at Hillary Clinton. We'll circle back to Clinton in a second.
Indeed, we're still three months shy of the 2014 midterms and it feels like the 2016 presidential election has already begun. Not that I'm complaining necessarily. In and of itself, I'm a hopeless enthusiast when it comes to presidential politics -- even sharing Rachel Maddow's affection for the triumphant MSNBC election theme song. But one of the things I'm not looking forward to is the premeditated, misogyny-driven flagellation of the Clinton campaign by the usual suspects.
Frankly, it's been a rough week for Clinton, and if you're a supporter of her undeclared non-pre-candidacy, you'd better hunker down because her campaign will encounter many more weeks just like this one. It's the nature of Clintonian politics: an endless roller-coaster of victories, losses and generally sustained chaos. For those of us who follow politics professionally, it's what we live for, but if you're an activist, it's nothing but stomach-churning.
One way or another, any event that peaks or troughs outside the trendline of normal Clinton campaign behavior will surely be attacked by the GOP as having something to do with either her age or womanhood. We've already witnessed the opening salvo of age/brain-damage speculation, and it definitely won't be the last time that one gurgles to the surface. And yesterday we heard the first serious "Because She's A Chick" attack. No, it wasn't expressed precisely like that, but that's the general message, and it'll continue that way for at least the next two years.
Naturally the first real shot came from Fox News Channel's Jesse Watters, better known as the unfunny stooge who stalks Normals for the easily-entertained delight of Bill O'Reilly's viewers. While discussing Clinton's apparently war-hawkish criticisms of the Obama administration's foreign policy, Watters said to a panel of four female Fox News commentators:
This is my guess, she's a woman, she's trying to overcompensate by acting like a hawk... [panelists loudly object] ...on foreign policy. What?! No, no, I think Hillary has -- you know, feels a little insecure because she's a female running to be commander-in-chief, I think she comes out and tries to be very hawkish -- she voted for the Iraq War authorization, she's been very interventionist when it seems, when she's Secretary of State... And I think she's gonna get burned by this. I don't think the left-wing base wants this.
The (female) host on Watters' left, replies:
I have Jesse's back on this. It's why she wanted to be on the Senate Armed Services Committee because women running for office do risk looking weak as a woman. She does understand that about demographics.
First of all, "women... risk looking weak as a woman?" Huh? Second of all, and more importantly, why does Clinton's hawkishness have to be a symptom of her womanhood? I know it might be shocking for Fox News people to read this, but maybe it's actually because, right or wrong, she has a worldview and a solid handle on how exactly she'd like to best approach her would-be foreign policy. Crazy, I know. Clearly the idea that women in politics will only support intervention because they're women and not because they can think for themselves and might consider intervention to be the most effective option is an alien concept for Watters and company.
So, what about Megyn Kelley? When the popular Fox News anchor endorses military intervention, does it mean she's merely posing as a tough-talker to compensate for being a woman? Hell, what about Liz Cheney? Condoleezza Rice? The late Margaret Thatcher?
Of course none of these questions are relevant because this really isn't about a serious analysis of the would-be Clinton Doctrine. This is entirely about giving viewers a cheap and easy excuse to vote against Hillary Clinton: she's a disingenuous, weak-willed woman. By the way, we can definitely expect to hear the word "cankles" and other sexist words tossed in there, too, while building the case for Clinton's qualifications for office. It's a sure thing. And there's still 27 months until the 2016 election.
Speaking of which, isn't it more the purview of men to overcompensate for weakness or, you know, shortcomings? To wit: