aside Review: Michael Arnovitz’s Defense Of Hillary Clinton

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This is a repost of a blog that was published about a year ago. Recently, there has been some rehashing regarding Hillary Clinton due to her reemergence back into the fray and for her being part of the resistance. This is a timely review. Because Mr. Arnovitz’s article is very lengthy, I have foot noted a link below to the report.

Review of a pro-Hillary Clinton Stance

On June 13, 2016, Michael Arnovitz of the Policy blog, posted the article, Thinking About Hillary — A Plea for Reason.” His write up is meant to bolster his belief that misogyny is one reason, for why the democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton’s polls are high while she is working in positions like US Senator from NY (2001-2009) and US secretary of state (2009-2013), but it takes a dive whenever she is running for an elected position or asking for power.

Excerpts:

“In the course of a single conversation, I have been assured that Hillary is cunning and manipulative but also crass, clueless, and stunningly impolitic; that she is a hopelessly woolly-headed do-gooder and, at heart, a hardball litigator; that she is a base opportunist and a zealot convinced that God is on her side. What emerges is a cultural inventory of villainy rather than a plausible depiction of an actual person.” — Henry Louis Gates

clinton-great-outstanding-early-candor“The quote above comes from a fascinating article called “Hating Hillary”, written by Gates for the New Yorker in 1996. Even now, 20 years after it was first published it’s a fascinating and impressive piece.”

“I have become increasingly fascinated by the way so many people react to her.  I can’t help but notice that many of the reactions she receives seem to reflect what Gates referred to as “a cultural inventory of villainy” rather than any realistic assessment of who she really is and what she has really done.”

“And this claim of unabated mendacity is particularly interesting, because while it is not the oldest defamation aimed at Hillary, it is the one that most effortlessly glides across partisan lines. Indeed, for a surprisingly large percentage of the electorate, the claim that Hillary is innately dishonest is simply accepted as a given. It is an accusation and conviction so ingrained in the conversation about her that any attempt to even question it is often met with shock. And yet here’s the thing: it’s not actually true. PolitiFact, the Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking project, determined for example that Hillary was actually the most truthful candidate (of either Party) in the 2016 election season. And in general PolitiFact has determined that Hillary is more honest than most (but not all) politicians they have tracked over the years.”

clinton-on-glass-ceiling-hrc“Also instructive is Jill Abramson’s recent piece in the Guardian. Abramson, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal as well as former Executive Editor of the New York Times, had this to say about Hillary’s honesty: “As an editor I’ve launched investigations into her business dealings, her fundraising, her foundation and her marriage. As a reporter my stories stretch back to Whitewater. I’m not a favorite in Hillaryland. That makes what I want to say next surprising. Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy.”

Back to Whitewater

William Safire
William Safire

“In January of 1996, while Whitewater investigations were underway but unfinished, conservative writer William Safire wrote a scathing and now-famous essay about Hillary Clinton entitled, “Blizzard of Lies.” In the piece he called her a “congenital liar”, and accused her of forcing her friends and subordinates into a “web of deceit”. He insisted (without any apparent evidence) that she took bribes, evaded taxes, forced her own attorneys to perjure themselves, “bamboozled” bank regulators, and was actively involved in criminal enterprises that defrauded the government of millions of dollars. He ended the piece by stating that, “She had good reasons to lie; she is in the longtime habit of lying; and she has never been called to account for lying herself or in suborning lying in her aides and friends.”

 “I am no political historian, but as far as I can tell this short essay was the birth of the “Hillary is a Liar” meme. Now to be clear, most conservatives already strongly disliked her. They had been upset with her for some time because she had refused to play the traditional First Lady role. And they were horrified by her attempt to champion Universal Health coverage…(Before 1996), the most common opinion seemed to be that she was a self-righteous leftist who considered anyone with other views to be morally inferior… she was just intolerably smug.”

“After the Safire piece however, this all changed. Republicans, who learned from Nixon never to let a good propaganda opportunity pass if they could help it, repeated the accusations of mendacity non-stop to anyone who would broadcast or print them. And if you doubt the staying power of Safire’s piece, type the phrase “congenital liar” into a Google search along with “Hillary Clinton” and see what happens. This, even though Safire was eventually proven wrong about everything he had written. Safire never apologized.”

clinton-hrc-womens-rights-are-human-rights“But while conservative propaganda and lies are a constant in “Hillaryland”, if we look at Hillary’s career, and the negative attacks so often aimed at her, it seems clear that more than just political machinations are at play. My current conviction is that the main fuel that powers the anti-Hillary crowd is sexism. And yes I’m serious. But I think the evidence supports my view, and I’ve seen no other plausible explanation. And just to be clear, I don’t think it’s ONLY sexism. But I do think that this is the primary force that has generated and maintained most of the negative narratives about Hillary.”

1) “We have formed a sort of collective blindness to sexism that allows us to pretend that we are on top of the issue while simultaneously ignoring the many ways in which it actually permeates our society. (There’s a reason it’s called a “glass” ceiling.)”
2) “Unlike men, women who make demands are still often seen as unfeminine and inappropriately aggressive, bordering on deviant. And if the people most aggressively pushing against the glass ceiling are “broken” or “deviant”, it’s easier to justify dismissing both them and their concerns.”

clinton-photo-w-quote-on-gay-rights-65“So I’ve made a claim. Let’s look at some numbers. Take a look at the image above. On the right side you’ll see a chart. This is a chart of Hillary’s popularity over time. It was put together by Nate Silver, who based it on over 500 high-quality phone surveys dating back to the early 90’s. If we take a look at the polling data, very obvious patterns emerge.”

“In the early 90’s her polling was great, which was typical for an incoming First Lady. But Hillary had no interest in being a typical First Lady, and soon took charge of one of the most important policy initiatives of the Clinton Presidency: Universal Health Care. If you look at the first large red arrow I have on the graphic, you’ll see that as soon as she did that her negatives skyrocketed (asking for power).”

“Now take a look at the second arrow. This is where she declared that she was going to run for the Senate. See what happened? She was at one of the most popular periods of her life, but as soon as she declared a run for the Senate her favorables plummeted while her unfavorables rose sharply. Then once she was elected, her scores stabilized and even improved. Now look at the third arrow. Nearly exactly at the same time she withdrew from the Presidential race her favorables took off again, rising to levels that many considered remarkable. (Or are we pretending not to remember that until very recently Hillary was one of the most popular politicians in the country?) In fact the image on the left of the graph is part of the “bad-ass Hillary” meme that started during this time. And her polling stayed high right up until she decided to run for President again.”What I see (from data) is that the public view of Hillary Clinton does not seem to be correlated to “scandals” or issues of character or whether she murdered Vince Foster. No, the one thing that seems to most negatively and consistently affect public perception of Hillary is any attempt by her to seek power. Once she actually has that power her polls go up again. But whenever she asks for it her numbers drop like a manhole cover.”

“And in fact I started thinking more about this after reading an article that Sady Doyle wrote for Quartz back in February. The title of the piece was, “America loves women like Hillary Clinton — as long as they’re not asking for a promotion.” In the article Ms. Doyle asserted that, “The wild difference between the way we talk about Clinton when she campaigns and the way we talk about her when she’s in office can’t be explained as ordinary political mud-slinging.”

“And yes this is the kind of statement that many people will find reflexively annoying. But that doesn’t make it any less true, and the data certainly seems to support it. Even NBC news, looking back over decades of their own polls, stated that, “she’s struggled to stay popular when she’s on the campaign trail.” If this has nothing to do with gender, then wouldn’t the same thing happen to men when they campaign? But it doesn’t.”

clinton-hrc-good-photo-w-quote-bigger-than-oneself789“So let’s look at the issues people are currently using to disparage Clinton. Let’s consider the issues of dishonesty, scandals, money and Wall Street.”

“1) Honesty — In terms of honesty, I’ve already addressed that. Hillary is a politician, and like all politicians she is no stranger to “massaging” and/or exaggerating the truth. And yes on occasion she will let loose a whopper. But is she worse than other politicians? As I’ve already discussed, the evidence suggests that she is no worse, and actually better, than most other politicians…According to PolitiFact he is in fact the least honest candidate they’ve ever analyzed! So if the issue of honesty is really that important, why are so many people (on the right and left) holding Hillary to such an obviously different standard than Trump?” 

2) “Scandals — Webster’s dictionary defines a scandal as, “an occurrence in which people are shocked and upset because of behavior that is morally or legally wrong.” But here’s a question: Are scandals still scandals if nobody actually did anything wrong? And I think that’s a fair question, because Hillary’s political foes love to point out all the times she has been implicated (directly or indirectly) in scandals. Not surprisingly, however, they fail to point out that she has always been cleared of any wrongdoing.”

clnton-quote-use-when-you-are-stumbled-knocked-down-keep-faith-hillary-clinton-quotes-656x492

“So if she’s always innocent, why then does she find herself caught up in so many scandals? For that answer, perhaps we should look at the Wikipedia definition of scandal, which states, “A scandal can be broadly defined as an accusation or accusations that receive wide exposure. Generally there is a negative effect on the credibility of the person or organization involved.” Notice the important difference? Perhaps the “negative effect on credibility” is not so much the RESULT of these scandals as it is the INTENT of those who create them.”

“Did you know that Republicans once spent 10 days and 140 hours investigating the Clintons’ use of the White House Christmas Card list? Because that is a real thing that actually happened. As the Atlantic recently pointed out,  “No other American politicians — even ones as corrupt as Richard Nixon, or as hated by partisans as George Bush — have fostered the creation of a permanent multi-million-dollar cottage industry devoted to attacking them.” (And for an impressive presentation of this issue I highly recommend Hanna Rosin’s piece “Among the Hillary Haters”, in the Atlantic.)”

elections-dnc-655802163aa00575-democratic

3) “Money — OK let’s talk about her money. Hillary has a lot of it. And she has earned most of it through well-paid speaking fees. And the idea of getting paid $200,000 or more for a single speech seems so ludicrous to many people that they assume that it simply must be some form of bribery. But the truth is that there is a large, well-established and extremely lucrative industry for speaking and appearance fees. And within that industry many celebrities, sports stars, business leaders and former politicians get paid very well. At her most popular for example, Paris Hilton was being paid as much as $750,000 just to make an appearance. Kylie Jenner was once paid over $100,000 to go to her own birthday party, and to this day Vanilla Ice gets $15,000 simply to show up with his hat turned sideways.”

“And let’s talk about the more cerebral cousin of the appearance agreement, which is the speaking engagement. Is $200k really that unusual? In fact “All American Speakers”, the agency that represents Clinton, currently represents 135 people whose MINIMUM speaking fee is $200,000.”

clinton-great-photo-love-and-kindness-longform-original-24600-1453764096-18

“Hillary didn’t invent the speaking engagement industry, and she isn’t anywhere near the first person to make a lot of money from it. And while her fees are in the upper range of what speakers make, neither they nor the total amount of money she has made are unusual. It’s just unusual FOR A WOMAN…So if this discussion is really about money in politics that’s fine. But I’m going to need someone to explain to me why we only seem to focus on it when the person making the money has a vagina.. “

4) “Wall Street — First things first. No, the majority of the money Clinton has made from speaking fees did not come from Wall Street. In fact it’s not even close. She has given nearly 100 paid speeches since leaving the State Dept., and only 8 were to “Wall Street” banks. Nearly all of her speeches were to organizations like American Camping Association, Ebay, Cisco, Xerox, Cardiovascular Research Foundation, United Fresh Produce Association, International Deli-Dairy-Bakery Association, California Medical Association, A&E Television Networks, Massachusetts Conference for Women, U.S. Green Building Council, National Association of Realtors, American Society of Travel Agents, Gap, National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, etc.”

clinton-good-quote-use-da068ed02e2157ccd52a03e1c30692af

“Corporations and Associations pay large fees for important speakers all of the time. And Hillary got booked fairly often because she is interesting and popular, and because there’s a great deal of status attached to having her speak at an event…A large contingent of anti-Hillary people continue to insist that all speaker’s fees from Wall Street banks were bribes, and that because of this they “own” her. But by that logic shouldn’t we all be asking what the fuck the American Camping Association is up to?”

“What is going on here? What’s going on is what we all know, but mostly don’t want to admit: presidential campaigns favor men, and the men who campaign in them are rewarded for those traits perceived as being “manly” — physical size, charisma, forceful personality, assertiveness, boldness and volume. Women who evince those same traits however are usually punished rather than rewarded, and a lot of the negativity aimed at Hillary over the years, especially when she is seeking office, has been due to these underlying biases. There is simply no question that Hillary has for years been on the business end of an unrelenting double standard. And her battle with societal sexism isn’t going to stop because of her success anymore than Obama’s battle with racism stopped once he was elected. These are generational issues, and we are who we are.”

Link: Thinking About Hillary — A Plea for Reason – The Policy January12, 2016

7 comments

  1. Mz Gronda, While I am not quite as big a fan of Hillary Clinton as you, even I must admit that virtually all the bad things that the GOP has hand fed the public about her are simply the type of attack that a person can not defend against because there is no real solid accusation only the hint of one. If one were to doubt the gender bias of the Republican/TeaParty then all one would have to do is listen to them as they fail to actually support any of the women within their own party who have risen to the point of even a small amount of power… Perhaps some day this nation will actually realize that a woman’s place is not just in the home having babies for their owner/husband.. Of course we will have to overcome the effect of the American Taliban that uses the bible as a weapon against all perceived enemies and that does include women who are bold enough to step into roles that have been traditionally owned and controlled by the male members of society…

    • Dear Crustyolemothman,

      Among DDT’S ilk, misogyny is alive and flourishing. But then so is racism, xenophobia, etc.

      i admire HRC for not giving up, picking herself up and getting back in the fray no matter how bloodied she got. But I am also one who believes she is the one who lost this race.There were other intervening events but she knew her opponents would throw everything at her but the kitchen sink.

      Ciao, Gronda

  2. Gronda, as we have discussed, this woman could never escape the piñata created in her image to be beaten on. Even today, with some knowledge that the Russians influenced the election – meaning they heightened her flaws with drafted stories that fed this beast – they still feel she is as horrible as the piñata image. She is not perfect and too close to the vest, but she is not nearly as damaged as this piñata made her out to be. Keith

    • Dear Keith,

      You and I have been on the same page about this. I did this blog because I still find people who still have a visceral hatred of her based on a lot of “fake news” before these words were part of our vocabulary.

      And even with her being a flawed human being like all of us, I find it disheartening that because of all this pile on of “fake news” that there are peoples who equate HRC with DDT. There is no equivalency here. HRC was by far the better candidate..
      And I am convinced misogyny was at work here along with everything else.

      The only silver lining of her loss, is that she has been spared the Hell she would have suffered by the right, the Russians etc.
      What is disheartening is watching the right back DDT despite his flaws which makes HRC look like Mother Teresa.
      Ciao, Gronda

  3. Excellent post, Gronda! I came to admire and respect Hillary Clinton during Bill Clinton’s tenure as president, then again during her time as U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State. But my respect and admiration increased a hundred-fold during the 2016 campaign when in every instance, she showed more intellect, grace, dignity and integrity than her opponent. She had sound opinions on the issues, understood every issue, and put him to shame in every debate. I find it especially interesting that people first came to dislike her “because she had refused to play the traditional First Lady role.” And look at the shadow ‘First Lady’ now! And yet … Trump’s base say not one word about the fact that Melania is NOT acting as a first lady, has not fulfilled that role in any sense of the word, and is costing the taxpayers untold amounts of money by refusing to live in the White House. What a double standard!

    Hugs!

    • Dear Jill,

      The silence on the right about the machinations of DDT’s White House operations is deafening. There will be no “profile in courage awards given to these folks.

      I am still surprised to meet folks whose hatred for her is off the charts but most of it is based on “fake news.”

      Hugs, Gronda

      • I wonder, as I have for quite some time, what it is going to take to awaken them? But yes, their silence is deafening and maddening. I have never wanted to smack anybody as much as I do those who are still singing his praises!

        Hugs!!!

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