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Posted by on Dec 26, 2015 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, Journalism, Media, Politics, Women | 33 comments

Hillary Clinton: target of gutter politics, sexism and Clinton Derangement Syndrome?

The avatar of 21st century political "discussion"?

The avatar of 21st century political “discussion”?

Before there was Bush Derangement Syndrome and Obama Derangement Syndrome there was Clinton Derangement Syndrome — which thrives today among many when it comes to Hillary Clinton. She has her supporters, and then those who disagree with some of her positions, or those who are perhaps not enamored of her personality. But to those who aren’t red-faced sufferers of outright Clinton Derangement Syndrome, it’s evident when you hear, read or see the syndrome. And Peter Daou, who has worked with and for Clinton, sees it as having reached a fever pitch last week. He writes:

I spent the summer of 2015 chronicling the avalanche of attacks against Hillary Clinton at #HillaryMen. My co-founder Tom Watson and I dedicated ourselves to the task of wading through the myriad insults, smears, character attacks, negative frames, sexism and misogyny that have marked the 2016 presidential race.

In November, we put HillaryMen on hiatus as I embarked on a major project with David Brock to build a new media platform for Blue America.

Meanwhile, the attacks against Hillary have taken a disgusting turn. In the past week, GOP candidates have dropped all pretense and embraced gutter politics.

Chris Christie: “I’m going to drive straight ahead, run her over, and get right to the WH.”

Donald Trump: “She was going to beat Obama. She was favored to win and she got schlonged. She lost. She lost.”

This comes against the backdrop of a media frenzy over Hillary’s bathroom break during the most recent Democratic debate.

Think about it – in a single week, one of the most powerful, accomplished and admired women on the planet is exposed to threats of violence, derided in sexually explicit terms, and subjected to in-depth analysis of her toilet habits by the media. Does anyone really believe sexism isn’t alive and thriving?

Of course, those who are afflicted with the latest syndrome centered around someone who a)they disagree with b)they see as an obstacle to “their” person getting in will charge that Daou just doing spin, just going on the attack, and there’s no sexism. Because rather than discuss points, the modus operandi of our politics is to discredit discredit and discredit (but not really discuss).

But to those not afflicted with the syndrome — to even some who may not be smitten by Ms. Clinton, and those who aren’t riding a political horse already — the answer is evident.

Simply disagreeing on policy is no longer the American political way. Hate and exaggeration are now required components. It’s too DIFFICULT to simply lay out, in unemotional terms, a disagreement with a candidate.

How ludicrous, hate filled, and at time sexist has our politics gotten? The Huffington Post’s Soraya Chemaly offers this post that details the big deal that Republicans have made over Clinton’s delayed debate appearance due to a trip to the bathroom. Chemaly even looks at an actual bathroom issue involved. But the most notable parts of her post are these:

Rand Paul’s wrote a popular tweet, going straight for the tried and true conservative “women cat fighting” narrative, that read, “[email protected] has ZERO trouble making it back from commercial breaks @HillaryClinton.” Because everyone knows women pee competitively.

She nails the utter bankruptcy in quality of our current political “discussion” which is mostly snark, name calling and rage. So party affiliation determines the intensity of the call of nature, the ability to control it or the number of people waiting in a line. And the fact we are DISCUSSING this at all shows how far we as a Republic have fallen.

Nearly-frenzied partisans and ideologists will grasp at any event or adjective to try and negatively define someone who doesn’t see things the way they do or who represents a threat to their political tribe ideology or party prevailing. Anything to avoid a detailed, thoughtful discussion on actual policy differences. Nuance is increasingly, oh, so 20th century (and for wusses).

She concludes with this:

The male-centeredness of our opinion making and public space continues to reflect the male-centeredness of our understanding of the world.

The tone Daou points to and the Clinton Derangement Syndrome don’t fully explain how The Big Bathroom Issue hit the mainstream. It was as usual injected bigtime into our “discussion” by Donald Trump, then picked up by partisans and talk radio as the bar was lowered again and continued by the media reporting a story about a controversy over Clinton’s onstage delay due to a bathroom trip. If anything, Trump has proven how simple it is to get voters to nod their heads like lemmings or audience members onstage at a fair hypnotism show and agree — and how easy it is to get a ratings-driven media to droolingly pursue someone who can get them big audience share (major candidates literally phoning in interviews to broadcast interview shows was not allowed in the past). At The Hill, Brent Budowsky details how Trump is really a bully — a bully who so far has not faced any political consequences but one who Budowsky feels may have met his match in Ms. Clinton:

Bullies need to be put in their place, with the kind of strength, resolve and character that the former secretary of State has shown in the way she takes charge in the campaign against Trump. And Trump knows Clinton has gotten the better of him, which is why he is reduced to vulgar, sexist and offensive comments as she stands her ground.

Trump can cite his poll numbers all he wants, but it must drive him up a Christmas tree to know that the woman who would become the first female U.S. president will, according to polls, beat him to a pulp in the general election if the GOP is suicidal enough to nominate him.

When Trump degrades himself by suggesting that Clinton taking a bathroom break during the most recent Democratic debate is “disgusting,” he is making it clear that he knows Clinton is the superior candidate and he has nothing better to offer the nation than junior high school vulgarity and discredited nonsense that led the independent fact checker Politifact to conclude that his repeated false and inaccurate statements give him its 2015 Lie of the Year.

Trump is now “warning” Clinton to stop standing up for women, and raising issues that are important to women, and fighting back against those who would bully women.

Let me warn Trump instead: he is going to keep losing this battle. He should apologize to Hillary Clinton for his vulgar, sexist and offensive words against her.

If Trump persists in his bully tactics against Clinton he is going to learn the hard way that while he may be the favored candidate of Putin, Americans by landslide numbers would prefer Clinton to be dealing with Putin while sending Trump back to the reality television circuit where he belongs.

As you read this the Trump campaign has escalated its attacks on Hillary Clinton in areas that have zilch to do with ideas of policy. They’re now accusing her of being a sexist bully. It’s the old tactic of taking what you are accused of being and trying to accuse your opponent of it. Trump has gone back to playing some Republican oldies against Clinton…involving her husband.

This tactic is NOT limited to Trump’s campaign: CNN’s Don Lemon cut off a Republican who started using Bill Clinton’s sexlife as mantra against Hillary Clinton on the air, rather than address the issue Lemon was talking about (SEE IT HERE). Can talk of Vice Foster be far behind? Clinton derangement suffers have so many conspiracy theories to choose from. Not from The Onion:

Donald Trump’s campaign is escalating its war of words with Hillary Clinton, claiming that the Democratic front-runner bullied women to hide her husband’s “sexist secrets” and accusing her campaign of “acting like 9-year-old little girls.”

In an interview late Wednesday on CNN, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson unloaded on Clinton and her campaign, returning fire after Clinton condemned Trump’s “penchant for sexism.”

“What you have on Hillary Clinton’s side are a bunch of people, including women — liberal women — who want to run around talking about the war on women,” Pierson said. “They want to burn their bras and complain about equal pay and be treated as men, and the second they get criticized for anything they start acting like 9-year-old little girls.”

The feud began on Monday, when Trump ripped Clinton at one of his rallies, saying she got “schlonged” by then-Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries, and mocking her for returning late to the debate stage because she had to use the bathroom.
Pierson denied that the term “schlonged” was sexist or should be considered offensive.

“You know, no one really complained in 2011 when he used the exact same word to describe a woman winning an election cycle… and so all of a sudden it’s horrible,” Pierson said. “But Hillary Clinton has some nerve to talk about the war on women and the bigotry toward women when she has a serious problem in her husband.”

At a rally on Tuesday, Clinton declined to address the controversy with Trump directly, but said voters “shouldn’t let anybody bully his way into the presidency.”

In a personal attack, Pierson on Wednesday said Clinton is the bully.

“What’s interesting about this, this notion of being bullied is, I mean, I can think of quite a few women that have been bullied by Hillary Clinton to hide her husband’s misogynist, sexist secrets,” Pierson said.

The Hill notes that Clinton has tried to avoid engaging Trump directly, but did finally offer some comments earlier in the week to the Des Moines Register:

“I really deplore the tone of his campaign, the inflammatory rhetoric that he is using to divide people, and his going after groups of people with hateful, incendiary rhetoric,” she said. “Nothing really surprises me anymore. I don’t know that he has any boundaries at all. His bigotry, his bluster, his bullying have become his campaign. And he has to keep sort of upping the stakes and going even further.”

“I don’t respond to him personally, because he thrives on that kind of exchange,” she continued. “I think he has to answer for what he says, and I assume that others will make the larger point about his language. It’s not the first time he’s demonstrated a penchant for sexism. Again, I’m not sure anybody’s surprised that he keeps pushing the envelope.”

The problem now is that in today’s politics, sexist envelopes, derangement envelopes, and hate envelopes are being pushed farther and more extensively than a month’s shipment of envelopes just off the truck at NYC’s Office Depot. Could there be some future political, legal or other issue that derails Clinton? The answer is yes — as with any candidate. But that’s a separate issue from what Daou calls gutter politics, and from sexism and Clinton derangement syndrome.

Meanwhile, there will be some Democrats who’ll start saying, why, they’ll teach their party a lesson and stay home on election day if Clinton gets the nomination. To be sure, yes, if they stay home it’ll teach their party a lesson just as Democrats taught their party a lesson in surrendering their New Deal/New Frontier lock on the Supreme Court in past elections by staying home (or voting for Ralph Nader because they insisted there was no difference between Al Gore and George W Bush, a belief history will not support). Then, as Republicans use the power they won by getting their voters to turn out and vote, Democrats who made their political statements by sitting on their fannies will later decry those mean, old Republicans using the power they legitimately won in elections under our system of government to fulfill their election promises.

There are already some rumblings from some Democrats about how they’ll stay home if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination. Martin Longman wonders if what he calls this “take my ball and go homeism” should be taken seriously.

I think it should be taken seriously: syndrome trumps (pardon the word) political rationality.

Especially when American politics is now evolving into one big, predictable, partisan and ideologist rhetorical echo chamber.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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