Friday, November 09, 2007

Susan Faludi on Hillary Clinton

Male politicians have always cast themselves as rescuers to women. Clinton's also playing a rescuer -- but as a feminist!

Susan Faludi: Hillary Plays the Winning Gender Card:

No sooner had Hillary Clinton proceeded from the Democratic presidential debate to a speech at Wellesley College last week than the wailing began. Barack Obama hit the "Today" show accusing her of playing the gender card, and a chorus line of media pundits denounced her for having hurt the cause of feminism by acting the part of the injured girl.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd contended that Clinton was trying to show
she can break, just like a little girl. ... If she could become a senator by playing the victim after Monica, surely she can become president by playing the victim now.
Fox News' Mort Kondracke preached:
I think it is very unattractive for a general election candidate, who wants to be the commander in chief of the free world, to be saying, 'They're ganging up on me!' I mean, this is the NFL. This is not Wellesley versus Smith in field hockey.
Yet these indictments were conjured from the slimmest of evidence. What Clinton actually said at her alma mater before a whooping and roaring crowd of more than 1,000 young women was:
In so many ways, this all-women's college prepared me to compete in the all-boys' club of presidential politics. ... Fear is always with us, but we just don't have time for it, not now. So let's roll up our sleeves and get to work together. We're ready to shatter that highest glass ceiling.
What about that was so girl-with-her-finger-in-her-mouth frail?

The fact is, Clinton's opponents are mad because they feel robbed. Clinton hadn't acted the victim. The gender card she played was the one every successful recent male presidential candidate has played -- the rescuer card.

. . . .This year, as always, the presidential candidates must contend with the rescue formula, complicated by the fact that Bush has so devalued its currency. In this climate, Hillary Clinton can do what her male counterparts cannot. She is, indeed, reaching for the gender card, as her accusers claim. It's just different from the one they imagine. She is auditioning for the role of rescuer on a feminist frontier.

She returned to Wellesley to tell female undergraduates that she was there to free them; she was there to help them "roll up our sleeves" and "shatter that highest glass ceiling." As such, she latched onto a crucial element of presidential races past, and possibly to come -- that at the core of all American political rescue fantasies is a young woman in need.

In the general election, whoever the candidates may be, they will be tempted, perhaps required, to show just those bona fides. Clinton may be the only one who can do so without betraying the signature of a disgraced cowboy ethic.

Regularly-Featured Respect-a-Republican Friday

Paleo-Conservative Calls Out Neo-Conservative Want-a-Be
There are lots of reasons to disrespect Pat Buchanan. To give Buchanan fair and balanced treatment would take me more time and space than I have on this Friday morning. In the present historical context, Uncle Pat has me agreeing more with him than I do with virtually any other Republican. The biggest reason is that he has been a consistent, articulate and eloquent critic of Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq.

But today, I am singling out Pat Buchanan for taking the full measure of Neo-Busheney, Rudy Giuliani. I am excerpting from Buchanan's Conservatism is a Tower of Babel:
What does it mean to be a conservative – in 2007?

Sixty years ago, Robert A. Taft was the gold standard. Forty years ago, it was Barry Goldwater, who backed Bob Taft against Ike at the 1952 convention. Twenty years ago, it was Ronald Reagan, who backed Barry in 1964. Reagan remains the paragon – for the consistency of his convictions, the success of his presidency and the character he exhibited to the end of his life. About Reagan the cliché was true: The greatness of the office found out the greatness in the man.
Here, I have to disclose a certain discomfort and embarrassment because I voted for Reagan twice. And for none of the virtues Buchanan details here:
Reagan defined conservatism for his time. And the issues upon which we agreed were anti-communism, a national defense second to none, lower tax rates to unleash the engines of economic progress, fiscal responsibility, a strict-constructionist Supreme Court, law and order, the right-to-life from conception on and a resolute defense of family values under assault from the cultural revolution that hit America with hurricane force in the 1960s.
Wow, was I out of it! I must have voted for Reagan for all of the 'wrong' reasons. All I will say is this was the hedonist stage in my life in which I was a casual, single-issue voter. Whatever: my family would tell you that I have only just begun apologizing for this lapse. Probably true.

In any event, Buchanan continues:
With the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the breakup of the Soviet Union, anti-communism as the defining and unifying issue of the right was gone. The conservative crack-up commenced.
A singularly revealing statement. It confirms John Dean's theory of that the necessary glue for American Conservatism is an internationally-posed totalitarian threat, real or imagined.

Anyways, Buchanan faults George H.W.Bush's departure from the Reagan mold as a reason for Clinton's 1992 win.
Now, 15 years later, what does it mean to be a conservative?

There is no pope who speaks ex cathedra. There is no bible to consult, like Goldwater’s “The Conscience of a Conservative” or Reagan’s “no-pale-pastels” platform of 1980. At San Diego in 1996, Bob Dole told his convention he had not bothered to read the platform. Many who heard him did not bother to vote for Bob Dole.

And so, today, the once-great house of conservatism is a Tower of Babel. We are big government and small government, traditionalist and libertarian, tax-cutter and budget hawk, free trader and economic nationalist. Bush and McCain support amnesty and a “path to citizenship” for illegals. The country wants the laws enforced and a fence on the border.

And Rudy? A McGovernite in 1972, he boasted in the campaign of 1993 that he would “rekindle the Rockefeller, Javits, Lefkowitz tradition” of New York’s GOP and “produce the kind of change New York City saw with … John Lindsay.” He ran on the Liberal Party line and supported Mario Cuomo in 1994.

Pro-abortion, anti-gun, again and again he strutted up Fifth Avenue in the June Gay Pride parade and turned the Big Apple into a sanctuary city for illegal aliens. While Ward Connerly goes state to state to end reverse discrimination, Rudy is an affirmative-action man.

Gravitating now to Rudy’s camp are those inveterate opportunists, the Neocons, who see in Giuliani their last hope of redemption for their cakewalk war and their best hope for a “Long War” against “Islamo-fascism.”

I will, Rudy promises, nominate Scalias. Only one more may be needed to overturn Roe. And I will keep Hillary out of the White House.

A Giuliani presidency would represent the return and final triumph of the Republicanism that conservatives went into politics to purge from power. A Giuliani presidency would represent repudiation by the party of the moral, social and cultural content that, with anti-communism, once separated it from liberal Democrats and defined it as an institution.

Rudy offers the right the ultimate Faustian bargain: retention of power at the price of one’s soul.
In repudiating Rudy Giuliani, Pat Buchanan certainly does not surpass my desire to annul the Busheney interlude in American history. He's not even close. But I'll give Uncle Pat his 'props' today, at least.