Saturday, September 23, 2006

The pillory of Hillary

Be gone from here, ye witch! God created man to rule!

Rembrandt's 17th century painting, The Anatomy Lecture of Dr. Nicholas Tulp, is a portrait about patriarchy depicting the all-male sanctum of science and reason. Creating a parody, I replaced Rembrandt's patriarchs from Amsterdam of 1632 with those of today's conservative pundits and political operatives to add a contemporary political narrative suddenly intruded upon by the ever-gaining presence of a powerful woman, a presidential contender. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Arguably, the new faces may not best the men of the 17th century in attitudes about women, however, science and rationality hold little sway over the current group. The talkingpointf├╝rher, Ken Mehlman, chairman of the RNC, third from the left leaning over the cadaver, and his con-apparatchiki, the right-wing media propagandists who surround him, perhaps wish to place Hillary on the slab next.

Changing the approach of previous Hate Speech of the Week posts (here, here, here, here, here, and here) I thought I would examine sexism aimed at Hillary Rodham Clinton courtesy the Media Matters of America archive.

In today's media, insidious misogyny catapults Hillary bashing to new heights and sometimes with the language of the 17th century. Don Imus flogged Puritanical superstition:

Earlier in the show, during an interview with an impersonator of former President Bill Clinton, host Don Imus echoed his recent attacks on Sen. Clinton [in which he called Hillary "that buck-toothed witch, Satan."]. Imus asked, "[h]ow's Satan doing? Your wife." The impersonator responded: "Oh, she's fine. Bitch."

Remember the Puritan fools who hung witches in Salem? Those 17th century misogynists suffered from hysteria and fanaticism. What's the excuse for 21st century throwbacks?

Homophobic closet cases despise Hillary too. She has shapely legs and a husband who escorts her openly in public. Rather than face their secret envy, bitter drama queens plot revenge. Long-rumored as a major closet case, Ken Mehlman deserves to be outed according to the Barney Frank rule.

In tandem with Scarborough, Mehlman shared the same branding iron to try to burn Hillary with a familiar mark:

On the February 10 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL) -- host of MSNBC's Scarborough Country -- asserted that "there is a shrillness in [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton (D-NY)] that comes out on TV whenever she gets excited about something." Referring to a speech given by Clinton "a year ago," Scarborough added: "[E]very time her voice goes up, she gets very shrill, very un-Clinton-like, if you're talking about Bill Clinton."

Scarborough's remarks echo those of Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who repeatedly described Clinton as "angry" on the February 5 broadcast of ABC's This Week:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (host): We're just about out of time, but before we go, I have to ask you a question about 2008 and the candidate that all the Democrats are talking about, Hillary Clinton. For the Republicans, is she the dream candidate or the Democrat you most dread?

MEHLMAN: ...I don't think the American people if you look historically elect angry candidates. And whether it's the comments about the plantation or the worst administration in history, Hillary Clinton seems to have a lot of anger.... ...And when you think of the level of anger, I'm not sure it's what Americans want.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've got your talking points ready.

Yes, they do. How many ways can you brand the B word into Hillary without speaking the word? That's the game plan besides just plain lyin' about her or chastisin' the little woman of the WH when she neglected her Stepford Wife housekeeping duties. My, my. How many Ward Cleavers still pine for the days of Leave It To Beaver? Or do they miss the days of the Puritans?

For the most vile attacks on Hillary, we can always rely on a bloodthirsty and brain-addled rabble to throw rotten tomatoes and other unsavory projectiles. Michael Savage slung an elephant-sized dungball of blame for increased hostility in the Senate on the likes of Hillary and female senators. Men are never at fault in the Savage magical kingdom. That's women's work.

Limbaugh resurrected his scurrilous suggestion that Hillary as First Lady conspired to murder Clinton's White House counsel Vincent Foster. When he's not characterizing Hillary as a screeching ex-wife and "men will know what [he] means by that," a woman who puts her pants on one leg at a time like every other guy does, then Rush peddles gay-baiting sexual innuendo about her supposed lesbianism, which elevates Hillary's stature, IMO. Or, he quakes about the perceived Hillary threat to male testicles:

LIMBAUGH: But a lot of Democrats are worried that, you know, she doesn't have what it takes. She doesn't connect on TV. We talked about this. She doesn't come across as friendly. She doesn't -- she, you know, she's like -- my favorite name for her is Nurse Ratched. I mean, we created this whole concept of a testicle lockbox in connection with Mrs. Clinton. I mean, she has that kind of appeal to people. She's -- you fill in the blanks here.


LIMBAUGH: If I were [Washington Post assistant managing editor] Bob Woodward, I would be on a lookout for Mrs. Clinton and her testicle lockbox, because she has just been snookered....


LIMBAUGH: Now if Hillary does become Kerry's VP, will she have to change her positions to be on the same page with Kerry or will Kerry have to change his? [laughter] Don't forget that testicle lockbox, folks. [laughter] Just 'cause we haven't talked about it in a while does not mean [laughter] that it's -- that it's been buried.

There's something Jeffrey Dahmer bizarre about a mind that fantasizes about women storing male body parts and the suggestion hints at a peculiar understanding of male bondage apparatus for who would know about such devices? Rush shouldn't worry about testicle lockboxes. But what makes Limbaugh think Hillary or lesbians would want to preserve male organs in a box?

Republican chest-pounding necessitates bashing Hillary and that's Sean Hannity's schtick. Comparing a vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) to a vote for Hamas or Hezbollah, Hannity jousted with a call-in critic.

CALLER: The [Iraq] war was the greatest mistake in my lifetime.

HANNITY: It was not. You know what? It may be the greatest success in our lifetime, if, in fact -- if Reagan was betting on the fact that it is inherent in the human spirit to be free, that we are endowed by our creator that all men are created equal, and that given an opportunity the people in the Eastern Bloc would ultimately rise up and help in the beginnings of freedom. So, too, can it happen in this part of the world.

CALLER: Well, so, too, can it happen that they vote for Hamas, like they just did.

HANNITY: Well, the Palestinians -- this could be the beginning of democratization, and liberty and freedom in that part of the world. Do you deny that's a possibility?

CALLER: No, I don't deny it, but they can also vote for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas on the West Bank --

HANNITY: Well, you could vote for Hillary Clinton tomorrow, too, for crying out loud, [caller], but, I mean, does that mean that we sit back and do nothing?

CALLER: Well, don't send American kids to die for democracy in some damn place -- god-forsaken place on the other side of the world. I'm not for filling up Walter Reed hospital with a bunch of Americans because Sean Hannity is frightened.

HANNITY: Nobody is for that. Well, with all due respect, [caller], it's not a matter of Sean Hannity being frightened, but maybe you forgot -- I haven't forgot that 3,000 people died. We were attacked. It was the worst attack in history. They were at war with us for 10 years, and we didn't do a darn thing, [caller], and 3,000 people perhaps died unnecessarily.

For 9/11 exploitus ad nauseum, one could assume that Hannity topped the WH payola list to personally parrot a Karl Rove concoction that liberals give aid and comfort to terrorists while real men make war. But media whores like Hannity lay down across the big brass bed for free. He enjoys bashing Hillary with homespun rhetoric, hyperbole worded for those god-fearing folks back home, for example, that Hillary would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself. Sometimes Hannity makes stuff up. When vanity rules, loyalty glitters bright on the air waves.

On loyalty, Matthews aims to please:

On the September 19 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews, in a discussion on the prospects of a 2008 presidential bid by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), stated that Clinton "may not want to risk being another Dukakis -- this time in a dress," marking the third time Matthews has referred to the unsuccessful 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in describing Clinton's potential presidential bid, as noted by Media Matters for America (here and here). Matthews speculated that, like Dukakis, Clinton could lose "by eight points and humiliat[e] herself." Later, Matthews declared, "[G]o see Deer Hunter if you think [Clinton] can get elected president," adding that "Midwest guys" whose "idea of heaven is out hunting with the beer cans and shooting a pheasant or a bear" are "not up to modern women as president." The Deer Hunter was released in 1978.


In addition to his reference to Clinton as "Dukakis ... in a dress," Matthews has also called Clinton "witchy" and "sort of a Madame Defarge of the left," and pushed Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) to call Clinton a "socialist," as Media Matters has noted. Matthews also devoted a great deal of time to focusing on a May 23 New York Times article that addressed the state of the marriage between Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, asking at least 90 questions on the subject.

Evidently, Matthews joined one of dem thar beer-guzzling hunting trips and got freeze-dried in 1978 under a snowy avalanche. His paunch survived but not his mind. With John Boehner, Matthews again raised the Hillary is a socialist talking point. Don't you wonder if the RNC connected a dedicated fax machine for Tweety in the MSNBC green room?

Stuck on Hillary's marriage--what married women should focus on after all--curmudgeon David Broder was excitedly a-twitter. Funny, I don't recall fashion attention given to what men wear in the Senate but Broder channels an inner fashionista:

But the buzz in the room was not about her speech -- or her striking appearance in a lemon-yellow pantsuit -- but about the lengthy analysis of the state of her marriage to Bill Clinton that was on the front page of that morning's New York Times.


But for all the delicacy of the treatment, the very fact that the Times had sent a reporter out to interview 50 people about the state of the Clintons' marriage and placed the story on the top of Page One was a clear signal -- if any was needed -- that the drama of the Clintons' personal life would be a hot topic if she runs for president.

Does Broder have a gossip queen in his closet just dying to come out? Sounds like it. Oh, someone invite David to tea! Ken?

Amy Sullivan, who strangely doesn't want Hillary to run, wrote last year about Clinton's critics:

Sometimes they go far beyond reportorial cynicism.... More recently, on the Feb. 20, 2005, installment of “The Chris Matthews Show,” a panel discussed Hillary's candidacy while calling her “Nurse Ratched” and a “castrating female persona”; things really got going when journalist Gloria Borger mimicked Clinton's laugh and mannerisms while her colleagues sniggered.

And that's coming from members of the mainstream media. The conservative press—never shy when it comes to Hillary Clinton—has spent the spring teeing up for another game of Hillaryball. The trial of David Rosen, the fundraiser for Clinton's 2000 campaign, who was accused of hiding about $800,000 of costs for a campaign event held in Los Angeles, came first. In the three months leading up to the verdict (Rosen was acquitted), the FOX News Channel ran more than a dozen segments on Rosen, including a “Hannity & Colmes” segment titled “Are Hillary's Presidential Chances Over?” Rosen's eventual acquittal merited barely a hiccup on FOX, which simply replaced Rosen coverage with segments on the next Clinton scandal story—yet another bestselling book taking on the senator.

The pillory of Hillary began during Bill's presidency, but now that she's a bona fide contender, the usual conservative suspects have flung back the dungeon door in an antiquated patriarchal fortress where medieval instruments remain well-oiled, metallic and sharp, prepared to eviscerate women powerful enough to claim America's throne, the Oval Office. A woman holding the levers of the world's super power? "Bah! Humbug!" shout the men's hallelujah chorus.

What all the Hillary bashing boils down to is patriarchal resentment of powerful women. Primate brains just can't handle the presence of a modern woman treading upon the same sacred ground upon which the founding fathers once stood. The ingrained pattern to objectify the master's previously-held chattel manages to frog-leap DNA memory strands generation after generation despite women's liberation in the 20th century. White patriarchy dies hard and hopefully the younger generation will hasten its demise.

So let's leave the wacky doodles in their time warp to hunt witches while women work to take over the country and tune the chorus out. The best revenge is living well. And then there's justice. Hillary could win in 2008.