Will ‘Hillary-only Feminism’ carry the day in New Hampshire?


With the New Hampshire primary today, the contest on the Democratic side has turned quite nasty. Hillary Clinton has clearly been shaken by her hair’s breadth escape out of Iowa. With Bernie Sanders having a lead in New Hampshire and closing the gap in polls nationally, she has clearly decided that she needs to pull out all the stops to avoid an embarrassing defeat that will dent her carefully cultivated aura of inevitability.

One claim that she has raised is that Sanders has been waging a campaign of innuendo against her, by insinuating that she is the captive of the big financial interests without actually coming out and saying so.

Sanders was always going to have this vulnerability ever since he declared that he was not going to wage a negative campaign and would only talk about the issues. But what exactly does a negative campaign mean? One facet is waging personal attacks on your opponent, raising extraneous issues that have little or nothing to do with the ability to govern. Sanders has clearly not done that. But what does a negative campaign mean with respect to the issues because it is not always easy to separate the policy from the person.

Sanders clearly feels that he would be better than Clinton otherwise he would not have run. But how can he say that he is better without implying that she is worse? When he says that he is not part of the establishment and that she is, is that merely a statement of differences or negative campaigning? When he makes his critique that the government has been bought by big money and that he is proud not to have sought or accepted it, does that mean that he is using innuendo to imply that Clinton has been so bought? When he brings up the issue of the Iraq war vote that he opposed and she supported, is that negative campaigning because it raises doubts about her judgment?

Sanders has clearly committed himself to walk a very narrow, one might say unrealistic, line and he is going to veer off it from time to time. But according to Clinton, almost anything that implies that Sanders would be better than her seems to come under the heading of negative campaigning if he says so openly, and as devious and hypocritical if he refrains from drawing a direct comparison.

The other issue that she has raised is gender. Back in 2008, after coming in third in Iowa, Clinton made a dramatic comeback in New Hampshire to beat Barack Obama by making an a fairly open appeal to gender by pointing out how hard it was to run for office as a woman. She seems to trying to reprise that gender theme this time, but more overtly and clumsily, as we saw with the furor created by the statements of Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright. The Clinton camp has tried to play up the ‘Berniebros’ theme that his campaign is dominated by sexists. She has hauled out Bill Clinton who launched a harsh attack on Sanders along that and other lines.

This too has not gone well. Amanda Marcotte says that Clinton and her allies are helping create an unfortunate narrative that the media are seizing on.

No one expected that Hillary Clinton could make a bid to be the first female president without things getting really ugly on the gender politics front, but the weekend before the New Hampshire primary, with the competition from Bernie Sanders getting fierce, things took an especially nasty turn. It’s not just the sexist attacks against Clinton, either. A couple of feminist defenders of Clinton are being baited into following the mainstream media script that pits younger women against older women.

Younger women support Sanders in higher numbers than older women do. This is not surprising. Younger men also support Sanders more than older men do. The politics of idealism have always had more sway with younger people than with older, battle-hardened people. But rather than accept the simplest and likeliest explanation —that men and women tend to be more alike than different – much of the mainstream media has been eager to portray the age gap between women as a titillating catfight between jealous old hags and nubile bimbos.

Ana Kasparian is also fed up with the Berniebros narrative and with people assuming that they can tell her whom to vote for based on her gender.

Is it possible that there are some overzealous Bernie supporters who attack Hillary for being a woman? Of course. According to Think Progress, at their worst, Berniebros have accused Clinton supporters of voting “based on who had the vagina” and have invented novel sexist terms such as “clitrash.”

But it would be laughable to use the worst Bernie supporters as representatives of everyone who endorses him. I’m sure Hillary’s camp wouldn’t appreciate anyone picking her most vicious supporters and using them as examples for why she wouldn’t be a good president.

Maybe it hasn’t been uttered aggressively or concisely enough for the Hillary supporters who can’t seem to understand why liberals like me don’t want her to win the Democratic ticket. So let me be absolutely clear:

Hillary enjoys the riches of a corrupt political system. She has proven time and time again that she can be bought in the exact same way male politicians have been bought by corporate interests. Even Elizabeth Warren called Hillary out for being influenced by corporate money in a 2004 interview with Bill Moyers. The former first lady went from being against pro-corporate bankruptcy legislation to all of a sudden supporting it after she received hefty campaign donations from those who wanted to see the bill passed. Interestingly enough, the legislation hurt single mothers the most.

That alone negates the appeal of her being a woman, and potentially the first female president.

Does it make one sexist for supporting Bernie over Hillary? That would be as ridiculous as me claiming someone was sexist for criticizing me while my hand was caught in the cookie jar. A person isn’t sexist simply for disagreeing with the politics of a female candidate. In fact, when individuals whine about sexism in places where it doesn’t really exist, it leads others to believe that any accusation of sexism is illegitimate.

Of course women face all kinds of barriers in their effort to be taken seriously in pretty much all areas of life. Via commenter anat, I found this article by Kate Albright-Hanna (who supports Sanders) about her own experiences working as an intern in the Clinton White House interesting for the light it sheds on what she calls the all-pervasive BroWorld.

The male interns were learning how to navigate office BroWorld — how to get a more powerful guy to see himself in you, mentor you, ally with you.

The females interns were also learning how to navigate BroWorld — how more powerful guys often said they wanted to mentor you, but then got mad when you refused their sexual advances, and then either ignored or retaliated against you. These were the mid-level staffers, the advance men, the everyday bros whose mentorship could have launched our careers.

But she also points out that when the progressive woman Zephyr Teachout ran for governor of New York against the awful Andrew Cuomo, Clinton supported Cuomo. Where was gender solidarity then? Albright-Hanna labels this selective behavior ‘Hillary-only Feminism’, an accurate label that might well catch on.

But are Clinton’s recent moves sufficient to win in New Hampshire or at least bring her very close? Stay tuned for later tonight.

Comments

  1. fentex says

    Even Elizabeth Warren called Hillary out for being influenced by corporate money in a 2004 interview with Bill Moyers. The former first lady went from being against pro-corporate bankruptcy legislation to all of a sudden supporting it after she received hefty campaign donations from those who wanted to see the bill passed. Interestingly enough, the legislation hurt single mothers the most.

    Kevin Drum at Mother Jones investigated this claim, and the whole “Clinton is too cozy” with Wall Street concept.

    He points out Hillary was entirely consistent in this matter in particular – she voted against the bill when it’s provisions were punitive towards spouses and children (by privileging debt to banks over alimony and child support) and for it when they were not and was consistent in that in lobbying and three different votes.

    He concludes, I find credibly, that Hillary has not been unduly friendly towards banks but rather isn’t unduly (in their eyes) antagonistic towards them and surmises they fund her not as a sock puppet but as preferable to their real enemies.

    So one can choose Bernie as a stronger representative for action against banks over Hillary, that remains reasonable, but arguing it’s so because Hillary is a proven bought and paid for mouth piece of Wall Street seems untrue.

  2. lorn says

    fentex @3:
    I agree. It might be useful to point out that Clinton was the senator for the NYC district that houses the highest concentration of banks and financial industry. Giving speeches to constituents and answering their questions is usually considered a universal good. That they gave her money is expected from such organizations. If they raised goats, she might have been given goats.

    Clinton does have a set of charitable organizations, and while it doesn’t look like there was any one-for-one transfer of funds from those speeches, unlike those given at colleges which went directly to charities, some part did indeed go to those foundations after the expected and normal expenses associated with such speeches but some was used as income and to pay off past debt. Some of which likely dates back to legal defense against Whitewater accusations and other legal harassment. There is no disclosure, that I know about, as to what proportion this might be but, it likely varies by what bills came due, but some insiders claim that most of it goes to charity.

    Contrary to accusations by Fiorina, once the money is given to the foundation the bulk, about 94%, comes back out as charity.

    http://www.factcheck.org/2015/06/where-does-clinton-foundation-money-go/

    None of the Clintons (Bill, Hillary, or Chelsea) receive any compensation from the foundations.

    I do find it ironic that so many progressives so easily buy into the framing offered by the GOP attack machine which has been attacking Clinton’s using any and every possible slur possible to get mud on her for thirty years. Evidently the right-wing is, quite reliably, a lying sack of shit, except where is is talking about a Clinton. In that case ‘where there is smoke, there is fire’ applies.

  3. doublereed says

    Yea, I don’t really understand the desire for people to attempt to find a quid-pro-quo kind of relation with Clinton and the banks.

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be “they give her money so she does good things for them.” It could just as easily be the reverse: “She does good things for them so they give her money.

    The point is that she’s funded by the banks and they’re interested in supporting her. Why exactly do you think these organizations support Hillary Clinton then? So she can break them up, throw their CEOs in prison, and limit their greed and recklessness? Do you think they’re paying huge sums of money for her speeches because she’s telling them how disgraceful they all are? Of course not.

    It’s ridiculous to suggest that the Clintons are not cozy with Wall Street. They’re giving her huge sums of money. What, you think they do that for shits and giggles?

  4. lorn says

    doublereed @5:
    You are conflating the honorarium with campaign funding. As their senator for NY with important committee assignments (Environment and Public Works; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and Budget. Later Armed Services and Aging.) it isn’t surprising that they might want to pick her brain for clues as to what will happen next. These institutions deal with Billions of dollars (Wells Fargo has an estimated 1.7 Trillion under management, Citi much more than that.) and $200,000 is insignificant.

    BoA spent an estimated $10 million on a Superbowl blowout:
    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/WallStreet/bailed-bank-america-sponsors-super-bowl-fun-fest/story?id=6782719

    Given that her seat on important committees gives her a valuable perspective, and that even the slightest warning of what is coming might make a difference measured in Billions, $200,000 is cheap.

    As for campaign contributions, it is the habit of most major institutions to contribute enough to all sides so they can claim to be friendly. I tip the waitress well and she smiles when I come in.

    There have been various numbers bandied about claiming one percentage or another. Clinton cited one figure, 3% but this evidently leaves out some, other claim 6% is closer and, still others claim that all those leave out PACs and the figure is closer to 10 or 15%. I don’t know that anyone knows for sure what the numbers might be as they change day-to-day. What is clear is that the majority of the campaign funds are not coming from finance.

    Before you draw too many hard conclusions you might consider that Bernie, you know – that guy without any PACs, is, surprise, surprise … getting a whole lot of PAC money.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/us/politics/bernie-sanders-is-democrats-top-beneficiary-of-outside-spending-like-it-or-not.html?ref=topics

    This doesn’t, to my way of thinking, make a Bernie excessively beholden to those organizations. I wish we had a system that didn’t run on private money but it is unrealistic to expect anyone to win without major contributors. It is good to see that, like Hillary, most of his money comes from small contributers.

    The real question here is twofold. First, do contributions constitute bribes which must be repaid through favors or are adults able to accept contributions without being controlled by the contributers? Second, if you contributed to a candidate in some major way how would you assert control if the candidate is willing to serve only one term, or do without further assistance running for a second term?

  5. doublereed says

    As for campaign contributions, it is the habit of most major institutions to contribute enough to all sides so they can claim to be friendly. I tip the waitress well and she smiles when I come in.

    Hahahahahahaha, oh man. Wow. You actually made me laugh at my computer screen.

    Yes yes, I’m sure it’s just like tipping the waitress. So, just to be clear on this metaphor, Hillary Clinton is the waitress serving Wall Street the delicious deregulation that’s on the menu?

    The real question here is twofold. First, do contributions constitute bribes which must be repaid through favors or are adults able to accept contributions without being controlled by the contributers? Second, if you contributed to a candidate in some major way how would you assert control if the candidate is willing to serve only one term, or do without further assistance running for a second term?

    First answer: It’s legal bribery. Corporations generally spend far less on lobbying than what they get out of it in terms of lowered taxes, subsidies, and deregulation. Oftentimes it’s 10x or 100x the return on their value. Buying politicians is relatively cheap.

    Second answer: Are you unfamiliar with the variety of consultancy and revolving door traditions of the American political system? This shows stark ignorance of the reality of the how much legal bribery there really is. One-term is fine. They rig the system properly, and then cash in being a “consultant” later. Often it works out well, because they don’t have to bother being beholden to voters until their already in office.

    The fact that Hillary Clinton isn’t advocating to break up the banks in stark contrast to Sanders is sheer coincidence I suppose.

  6. doublereed says

    But lorn you didn’t really address my point anyway. I was saying that a quid-pro-quo situation isn’t how it works. Raising up politicians who already want to deregulate you is far easier than trying to convince politicians to your side.

    The speaking fees are more about the fact that Wall Street likes her. I understand the speaking fees are minimal and if that’s the rate she charges, then whatever. My point is, again, that you think they pay her to speak all the time because she’s scolding them and talking about sending them to prison?

    Wall Street knows Hillary Clinton is going to be nice to them and deregulate them. She’s been good to them all these years and she’s been quite reliable. She’s not some sudden politician on the scene. It’s not a risk. It would be absolute foolishness for them not to endorse her. But the fact that they see her as a reliable bet should convince you that her policies are beholden to them. Whether she genuinely believes her policies are best is irrelevant to the question of whether it’s blatantly corrupt.

  7. lorn says

    LOL.

    So this comes down to people simply assuming that what is perfectly legal, despite your definition otherwise, is, presumably because you know with metaphysical certainty that a speaking fee or campaign contribution have, because you can see into her soul, corrupted her.

    Congratulations, based on exactly zero evidence, you have swallowed the GOP framing of Hillary Clinton hook, line, and sinker while ignoring the same sorts of facts about contributions with Bernie Sanders. No … your not partisan at all.

    “Wall Street knows Hillary Clinton is going to be nice to them and deregulate them. She’s been good to them all these years and she’s been quite reliable.”

    Actually her plans for the financial industries are much more constraining, but less dramatic than, Bernie’s bumper sticker plan for them. Her plan is, unlike her opponent’s, spelled out in considerable detail.

    “She’s been good to them all these years and she’s been quite reliable.”

    You do understand that she represented the district in the senate where most of these organizations are based and that as constituents she is expected to represent their interests?

    Of course, given that any Democratic president in this cycle is going to be hard pressed to pass any legislation at all it really doesn’t matter who aspires or plans to do what. It is going to be, at best, four years of a deadlocked congress with Bernie or Hillary standing in the gap to stop total takeover of government by the GOP.

  8. Nick Gotts says

    So this comes down to people simply assuming that what is perfectly legal, despite your definition otherwise, is, presumably because you know with metaphysical certainty that a speaking fee or campaign contribution have, because you can see into her soul, corrupted her.

    If someone takes huge amounts of money for doing very little, it’s a reasonable inference that there’s an expectation of future benefits for the givers.

    You do understand that she represented the district in the senate where most of these organizations are based and that as constituents she is expected to represent their interests? – lorn@9

    Feeble. Her constituents are individuals who live in the constituency, not financial corporations.

  9. Nick Gotts says

    Before you draw too many hard conclusions you might consider that Bernie, you know – that guy without any PACs, is, surprise, surprise … getting a whole lot of PAC money. – lorn@6

    Yes indeed – from National Nurses United, not from financial corporations. Obviously, you don’t think that makes a difference, but many of us do. Ideally, neither corporations, mega-rich individuals nor unions nor anyone else would be legally allowed to spend vast amounts on these campaigns, but while they are, candidates of the left should of course take union support to offset the support of the rich and the corporations for their preferred candidates.

    Oh, and where exactly has Sanders claimed not to have any PACs, as your comment implies?

  10. doublereed says

    lorn This has nothing to do with the right wing framing of Clinton, as it’s basically the same for Obama. They have basically the same donors if hadn’t noticed.

    If you see nothing wrong with the campaign finance system of this country then by all means vote Hillary Clinton. I support Wolf-PAC and I support Sanders.

  11. doublereed says

    @lorn

    Why do you speak about “perfectly legal”? Do you not have a problem with Citizens United? This makes these things “perfectly legal.” It’s one thing to say “you gotta do what you gotta do” but it’s another thing entirely to dismiss such concerns by calling it “perfectly legal.”

    Frankly I think this makes you an extremist. Both Republicans and Democrats are united on this issue about money corrupting our politics. If you’re one of the 8-9% of people that doesn’t care about that, then whatever. I don’t think you represent many people, not even a decent amount of Clinton supporters.

  12. Holms says

    Yes yes, I’m sure it’s just like tipping the waitress. So, just to be clear on this metaphor, Hillary Clinton is the waitress serving Wall Street the delicious deregulation that’s on the menu?

    My reading of the metaphor was that Wall street was not quite the same; lorn tips the waitress well not to be served nice things, but the be greeted with a smile. That is, not to purchase anything in particular off her, but for general friendliness.

    In other words, not a direct quid pro quo arrangement, but for exactly the much more hazy scenario you described in #5.

  13. doublereed says

    She’s supposed to be the government. She’s supposed to be regulating them, fining them, and throwing them in jail when necessary. She’s not supposed to be a waitress.

    Probably the worst defense of Hillary Clinton I’ve heard so far.

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