“An Election All About Sex & Gender.” Who ever would have predicted this?

What a surprise!

Who among us ever would have forseen this?  I’m not mocking Rebecca Traister; I truly appreciate her analysis this year and am glad she’s finally getting the teevee time she and her–well, our–ideas deserve.  Men’s marital infidelity and sexual adventurism, even sexual abuse, is fundamentally knitted into the spoils successful male pols in our republican (small-r) system have claimed since the U.S. began.

It is totally blowing our collective mind to imagine how a woman could inhabit the most important political role in our system, and our brains are being wrung of all kinds of socio-sexual anxieties around the prospect of Hillary Clinton as the next U.S. president.  She doesn’t just represent change because she has a woman’s body.  Her presidency would force us to reckon (in good and ugly ways alike) about how political power works here and what we think winning pols are entitled to.  

Just imagine, if you will, a Hillary Clinton West Wing run like the John F. Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson West Wings!  (You can’t, can you?)  We know all about Kennedy’s priapism, and even his shocking abuse of his sex partners now.  We also know about Johnson’s crude frankness about his body, in addition to his extramarital affairs.  Imagine this prospective President Clinton having a fling with a 22-year old intern who brings her a pizza.  You can’t, because this is literally as incredible as this kind of behavior was completely normalized in male pols in past generations.

(To be fair, I can’t imagine either George W. Bush or Barack Obama behaving like the aforementioned presidents.  Perhaps we have entered a period of restraint and probity in public life in the twenty-first century such as we have only rarely seen it?  Perhaps a woman president was only imaginable in this new era, and if Clinton wins next week perhaps she’ll be in Bush’s as well as Obama’s debt for this!)

Let’s finally put to rest the idea that this is where Clinton’s campaign ends only because of “that woman” (as in, “I’m not against a female president–just not that woman”), as if there were some magical Unicorn Female Candidate whose life and choices wouldn’t have inspired a mass sexual freakout.  (Srsly: have we all entirely forgotten the ways that people talked about Sarah Palin and her family in 2008?)

All we have is N=3 for women presidential and vice presidential nominees of our two major parties, which just further proves my point.  I will be happy to be proved entirely wrong once we have N=12, 20, or 55, and the United States proves itself to be populated mostly by reasonable people who don’t evaluate women and men presidential or VP candidates differently.

Finally, I’ve long thought Hillary Clinton’s loyalty to Huma Abedin is touching, but Abedin really has to go now.  (This is what I was thinking more than a year ago, but YMMV.)  If Abedin is half as loyal to Clinton as Clinton has been to her, she must submit her letter of resignation.  Good lieutenants don’t allow their personal lives to become a distraction to those they serve.

Seeing that she’s a single parent now, I’m sure some liberal think tank will find a comfy six-figure job for her to retire to.  The Center for American Progress has found all kinds of lucrative work for people whose own conduct caused their falls.  Abedin will rebuild her career and reinvent herself, and cutting herself free from Team Clinton will help speed her along that task.

11 thoughts on ““An Election All About Sex & Gender.” Who ever would have predicted this?

  1. This has me absolutely spitting mad. Mad at the sleazy Republicans, who long ago kissed away their last shred of ethics for the sake of power. The Democrats, who spend far too much time rolling over like good bi-partisan puppies. And the media, who have lost almost all sense of the country’s good in covering the political game.

    It almost makes me want to pass on using my absentee ballot to show up in person at the polls. Go ahead, Trump “poll-watchers,” try to hassle me.

    We definitely need a revolution in this country. But not Trump’s “make America safe for bigots” revolution. Or Bernie’s and the “progressive” left’s revolution, which seems to be mostly about being idealogically pure kool kids. Both do a pretty good job of ramping up the intolerance of people with legitimate grievances, like working class and/or younger adults.

    We need what I believe Hillary Clinton’s revolution can be — an “oh, for crying out loud, can’t you get it right already, here, let me show you, now that’s how you do it, now you can get it right next time” revolution. If it’s going to work, we ordinary people will have to push against the obstructive in-crowds. Easier to get oneself to be active if there’s real hope it can work.

    As Judy Tenuta says: “Hey, it could happen.”

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  2. Huma Abedin may be a net liability to the ticket at this point (the full swath of her upsides necessarily is out of full public view), but I don’t think she really needs to go now. Is there any voter who would move from the R to the D column only if Abedin resigns? Or would feel motivated to vote without Abedin there, and would stay home if she stays?
    You don’t mean your point this way, Historiann, but to me it resembles the NY Times editorial published after HRC’s Goldman Sachs speeches were revealed. “They weren’t so bad! Downright anodyne. She should have revealed them all along!” Right, and maybe if she had, another accusation would have popped up to replace that one.
    Obama thought appointing a Republican to head the FBI would impress the other party as meaningful post-partisanship. In return, James Comey harmed him and his legacy. There is no pleasing the deplorables, and no reason to think that non-deplorable HRC-skeptics would be mollified by any sacrificial gesture. Why lose a valuable advisor in exchange for nothing?

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    • I don’t think it’s about pulling voters this way or that. I think you’re right that most of the votes are already baked in (or have already been cast, in many states.)

      However, a president who has staffers with family members who regularly are in the news in an embarrassing fashion? It’s a no-brainer, and no loyal staffer would want his or her messy business to be a subject raised at WH press conferences. As you say, Abedin’s value to HRC may be beyond priceless, but no one outside the inner circle can see it.

      The job of a staffer/aide is to serve the prince. The staffer/aide’s scummy ex-husband’s life and history has already interfered with the prince’s business several times in 2015 and 2016. It’s time for the prince to move on without Abedin.

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  3. It’s not that I’m defending Abedin, or saying she has a right to keep her job because she didn’t do anything wrong except be married to a creep. Nor am I worried about sexism here. I just wonder why you urge Clinton to fire her. The aide/lieutenant shouldn’t be the story, yes. The reason for that precept, I think, is that the boss probably has better things to do with her time than clean up, or live with, a personal-personnel mess. But maybe she doesn’t. Shouldn’t it be HRC’s call whether she’s better off with or without Huma Abedin?

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    • I don’t think Clinton should fire her. I think Abedin should offer her resignation & that Clinton should regretfully accept it. That’s different than firing someone. The job of the aide de camp is to serve the prince and the prince’s interests.

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      • To a lot of women, HRC’s loyalty to woman is a bedrock of their support for her. I still cringe when I remember her campaign’s separation from the historic Geraldine Ferraro due to the media furore over Ferraro’s taken-out-of-context remark in 2008. From everything I seen about Hillary as a politician, that was an anomaly.

        The best thing would be, as you said, for Abedin to resign, and for Hillary to regretfully accept that resignation. In all truthfulness and sincerity, no “forced” about it.

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  4. Thanks for the link Historiann: and I think you are right in the comment you left over there: I drift from teh candidate being the object of hte scandal to the candidate’s association with scandal (Abedin.) For me, the closest analogy is Bert Lance: Carter loved Bert Lance, it wasn’t clear he had done anything wrong, and he was bounced (too bad the adinistraiton never did find its footing,but that’s another story.)

    The part that puzzles me about some of our feminist sisters’ responses is: “She shouldn’t have to resign because he did something wrong!” As you point out, it isn’t fair, but the work of thousands of loyal volunteers and millions of small donors on behalf of a candidate they believe in has now been jeopardized by a marriage out of control. Honestly, I think that is unforgivable, and there is no way Abedin should remain with the campaign in the final week or go to the White House. As they say in Sons of Anarchy, “We need a body.” But in this case, Abedin needs to step back and deal with her personal life — and actually, men do this all the time (why do we think it took Jeb! so long to run?) There is no reason anyone should trust her until she does.

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    • You’re right–it sucks, and women and children don’t embarrass their political spouses/fathers nearly as much as the men do the women pols & staffers, but Clinton has shown more than enough patience and loyalty. It’s time for Abedin to resign. This is not a comment on Abedin’s judgment or her skills–it’s an acknowledgement that things didn’t work out for her in her marriage, and that I’m sure she wouldn’t, and doesn’t, want that to be what everyone is talking about in this final week of the campaign.

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