Monday, March 26, 2012

Andrew Sullivan’s irrational attacks on Hillary Clinton

Clinton with Masaai dancers, courtesy of New Agenda.
Thatcher, 1981, public domain.

As early as 2007, self-described conservative columnist and blogger Andrew Sullivan zealously supported the candidacy of Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary and on into the general election. And Sullivan continues to make excuses for and defend Obama to this day. Simultaneous to his support of Obama, Sullivan has been unrelenting in his attacks on Hillary Clinton. And like many devout supporters of Obama, Sullivan now appears to be aggravated by Clinton’s consistently high approval rating as secretary of state; whereas, Obama’s rating dips off and on to discouraging levels in his run for a second term as president.

At the New Agenda on Monday, Anita Finlay takes Sullivan to task for his latest vituperative remarks targeting Secretary Clinton:

Per an article in the Daily Caller, last Friday’s “Overtime” segment of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” featured Newsweek columnist and blogger Andrew Sullivan taking a swipe at Secretary of State Clinton while exalting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Wendy Schiller, associate professor at Brown University, argued with Andrew Sullivans’ claims that:
“[Thatcher] absolutely used her femininity, her beauty, her wit [and] her humor to run rings around these stupid men around her” …“But she never — she never said, ‘I’m a woman. I’m being attacked unfairly because I’m a woman.’ She never played that card. She never played the card that Hillary [Clinton] played at some points. She never played the ‘oh you can’t do this to me’ [card]. She played the ‘I’m as hard as nails as everyone, I’m a feminist who doesn’t believe there’s a difference between men and women in the public square and we abide by the same rules and God help you fight with me’ [card].”
Prof. Schiller rightly pointed out:
“[Hillary Clinton] was maligned and abused since the minute she stepped into public life with her husband,” Schiller said. “And in 2008, she took more abuse, and Sarah Palin might be a close second, more abuse than any human being in politics. She never played the woman’s card. She was tough as nails. And she’s running around the world securing peace now.”
Sullivan countered that Hillary rode her husband’s coattails to her current success and put him before herself.  He then declared, “That’s not a feminist.”

There is so much wrong with his statements, it is hard to know where to begin.  But we are dealing with a man who in 2007 said this of then-Senator Clinton:
“…[W]hen I see her again, all my — all the cootie vibes sort of resurrect themselves…I’m sorry.  I must represent a lot of people… I actually find her positions appealing in many ways.  I just can’t stand her.”
Looking through this lens, his statements are suspect, but they are worth discussing because he offers an example of how women are continually trivialized and maligned without cause.

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