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.