Granny watch: new fake issue for mainstream press, same old sexist dismissal

grannywolf“As Clinton ponders her second run for the White House, many variables are in play, from her age to her health to her economic platform to her status as a soon-to-be grandmother.”

I get it that Hillary Clinton is unlike every other presidential candidate in American history, not just as the only serious woman contender, but also as the wife of a former president, but:  srsly?  Todd Purdham implies here that grandmotherhood is going to so delight and derange Clinton that she’ll toss her last chance to run for president out the window.

We’ve had other presidents who were near relatives of previous presidents in American history three times before–the Adamses, the Roosevelts, and the Bushes*, not to mention the many brothers Kennedy who ran for president between 1960 and 1980–and clearly, in these cases the whole family is implicated in campaigns in a way that’s different from other presidential campaigns.  But I don’t remember the media running stories in 1998 about how George W. Bush might not run for president because he might have to miss his daughters’ high school prom night, do you?  (Oh, yeah:  The media were all about the presidential blow jobs back then.)  Mitt Romney’s dozens of grandchildren were never presented as a reason for him to kick back and let 2012 go by without him, although I recall several stories emphasizing the comfort his large family could give him after his loss.

We know from early modern European and American history that post-menopausal women are figures who were and are cruelly caricatured and mocked for their continued existence in spite of their sexual and reproductive irrelevance.  And that’s not the worst that can happen:  for at least 500 years and probably more, the evidence suggests that women in old age suffer more from poverty when compared to their male peers.  Post-menopausal women were accused of witchcraft more often than fertile women in both European and American history.

The granny issue is a new stupid distraction, but I suppose it’s better than the other loathsome projections the media laid on Hillary Clinton from 1992-2008:  “sister Frigidaire” the lesbian; the murderess who killed her lover, Vince Foster; the calculating bitch in the marriage of convenience; the Vagina Dentata; and so on.  I guess the sexual danger of Hillary Clinton is less plausible now that she has a 35-year old daughter who’s about to make her a grandmother, but grannywatch is yet another attempt to trivialize or diminish the candidate.

*I don’t include Presidents William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison in this list of families.  Although they were grandson and grandfather, the elder Harrison died just a month into his only term when young Benjamin was only seven.  The short timespan of each man’s presidency (the younger Harrison served just one term) and the brief time in which their lives overlapped does not suggest a political dynasty.

7 thoughts on “Granny watch: new fake issue for mainstream press, same old sexist dismissal

  1. Yeah, the Clinton’s will doubtless be ‘coptering off from the South Lawn every other weekend, if not more often, to look in on the little twitcher, and this pattern of shameless executive inattention will allow things like stateless terrorism to spread their tentacles deeper into the recesses of the national soul than on, say, the current administration’s “watch.” Hadn’t thought of that one. The article in question should get a quick “revise and resubmit” (to the nearest shredder).

    I may be the only inhabitant of planet academe who finds the death of the elder Harrison to be the perfect place to end the first “half” of the U.S. history survey. To elaborate even a little would be to jack this much better thread, but this might be the only “prompt” (as today’s students like to call questions) to such a confession that we’ll ever have on these pages.

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  2. I think ending the first “half” of the survey in 1848 makes perfect sense, especially if one teaches in the Western third or half of the nation. The U.S. War with Mexico is a much more sensible break than the Civil War, but of course then the story of American history must be about imperial conquest and expansion rather than freedum.

    Wm. H. Harrison played his small role in imperial conquest and expansion with Tippecanoe, etc. but his successor’s successor, Polk, did even more as the prime mover of the 1846-48 war.

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  3. But H’ann, HC is a woman, and they has hormoanz. And being a grandma will certainly activate some hormoanz somewhere. Right?

    Who knows, grandparenthood might place child care issues back on the front burner. Though HC has always more or less been there (aside from the 1996 welfare reform.)

    On a slight tangent, I saw Robert Reich’s “Inequality for All” last night, and the pictures of Hillary from 1992 – well, let’s say she looks a lot better now!

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  4. Ugh. Couldn’t one equally (ridiculously) make the argument that Clinton will fight tooth and nail to reclaim the old family home, so that Chelsea and Charlotte can spend time in Chelsea’s childhood haunts?

    Even detractors of the Clinton marriage seem to concede that they managed, for the most part, to be pretty good parents, and their relationship with their adult daughter (or at least what’s publicly visible of it) seems to bear that out. Given that history, one would guess that Hillary can figure out how to juggle grandmotherhood and the presidency should the chance arise.

    Finally, there’s precedent for the grandmother-as-world-leader: Golda Meir (and undoubtedly others, but she’s the first one who comes to mind for me).

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  5. But wasn’t Ike a grandfather, and wasn’t that a selling point for him, in that he wasn’t going to make war on the Russkies because he’d rather play golf and go to Camp David, named for his grandson?

    Of course, Obama gets criticized for playing golf and Clinton gets criticized for becoming a grandmother. Gee, I wonder why.

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  6. Catherine the Great of Russia was a very attentive grandmother — she even personally designed an early “onesie” for her oldest grandson, who would grow up to be Alexander I. No one could argue that she did not attend to affairs of state: first partition of Poland and starting to assimilate the southern “New Russia” territory that Putin is now claiming. Of course, generations of male diplomats and historians have never been able to calmly accept that she had an unapologetic sex life. Hormoanz, indeed! Terrifying!

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