A man recently told me that, although he isn’t voting for Trump, he has never “liked” Hillary. When I asked why, he replied, “She’s an opportunist.” Huh.
I probed a bit deeper and discovered that his feelings formed during what he called “the Lewinski affair.” Apparently, staying in her marriage was viewed by some, not as loyalty to her wedding vows, husband or daughter, but as a calculated career move. According to this myth, Hillary agreed to stand by her man in exchange for a Senate seat.
Whether or not that happened in a smoke-filled room in the West Wing, I was still stuck on the term opportunist.
“If Hillary had accepted a position as Dean of Yale Law School, rather than becoming a New York Senator, would that have been less opportunistic?” I asked.
The man shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
“Look,” he said, “I’ve worked with women lawyers and male lawyers. They are both competent. I believe that men and women are equal, but different.”
I let the conversation drop without pointing out that he had evaded my question. But it got me thinking. Would the word opportunistic be applied to a male lawyer seeking a Senate seat who had spent over thirty years advocating for social justice in the political spotlight and had crafted CHIP, the historic legislation providing health care for all children? I don’t think so.
Hillary Clinton is now facing the same vitriol and revisionism Obama faced in 2008. As the first black Presidential nominee, Obama was viciously attacked by Birthers (led by Trump) who cast doubt on his citizenship. Others cast doubt on Obama’s faith, claiming he was Muslim. And still others tried to link him to 1960s leftist radicals in Chicago, even though these individuals now held respected positions in their communities.
Hillary is under the same barrage of defamation. Not because she has ever been convicted of any wrongdoing. But because she is a woman. While any Democrat nominee would automatically inspire attacks from the GOP spin machine, Hillary pushes them over the top. The same tactics that were used to try to put a negative twist Obama’s past are now in play to present Hillary as Cruella Deauville.
Equal pay for equal work? Access to safe abortions? Sane gun regulations? Affordable childcare? Free colleges? These are the kitchen table issues, the women’s issues, that a female Democrat nominees brings to the highest office in the land.
Does this scare the uneducated white men who are the majority of Trump supporters? You betchya. They do not want their wives and daughters controlling the size of their families, putting children in childcare so they can attend college and become bread winners.
Nothing makes a right wing Christian Conservative more nervous than an intelligent, articulate, experienced, female politician aiming for the White House. And nothing drives a stake into the heart of the GOP and the 1% more than hearing that Hillary intends to bankroll her policies with tax reform that reshuffles the deck in favor of the middle class.
To be fair, Bernie Sanders is responsible for Hillary’s progressive platform. Without him, she would be standing in Obama’s shadow, offering nothing more than four more years of a recovering economy, job growth and healthcare. Not bad. But not as dynamic as the women-centric platform she is championing.
In coming months, assaults on Hillary’s integrity, character and “likeability” are going to rage. Most will be instigated by Trump. He will compulsively grab the media spotlight to accuse her of despicable behaviors and, no doubt, to weigh in on her appearance and sexual appeal. While The Donald will probably cast Hillary as a 2, in my book she is a 10 and rising