Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Rachel Maddow wasn't impressed with the opening of Bill Clinton's speech last night:
"A+ for the end of the speech," she said. "But I think the beginning of the speech was a controversial way to start, honestly. Talking about 'the girl,' 'a girl.' Leading with this long story about him being attracted to an unnamed girl."

"Building her whole political story for the whole first half of the speech around her marriage to him. Unless there were worries that this was going to be too feminist a convention, that was not a feminist way to start. But the end of the speech was really good," she said.

"The top of the speech I found shocking and weird."

But I like Rebecca Traister's take on what Bill was doing:
It was a risk -- a big risk -- for an epically unfaithful man ... to begin his speech with the sentence, “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl.” But he went for it, with a self-aware grin that suggested he knew what he was doing: challenging the perception of his wife as sexless and his marriage as an empty sham based only on a shared will to power, by laying out a picture of a flesh and blood woman for whom he fell hard, more than forty years ago. He was doing it, in part, by making the joke about his horn-dog impulses, and reminding people that he had once trained them on Hillary.

It’s ironic that, in politics and other male-dominated public spheres, one of the roadblocks for women is objectification and sexualization, but when it comes to Hillary Clinton, whose ambition and brains have long rendered her bloodless in the American imagination, hearing her described as an object of desire could feel corrective and bizarrely just.
And even for those who haven't been thinking of Hillary as "bloodless," she's simply older, with all that means in a culture in which actresses are deemed too old for female-lead roles at 25. (The response to Clinton this year sometimes makes me think of Amy Schumer's "Last Fuckable Day" sketch.) And Hillary is running against a man who's notorious for dumping wives as they age -- not merely cheating on them, as Bill has done to Hillary, but kicking them to the curb, which Bill hasn't done and clearly doesn't want to.

Bill was talking about this spark of desire at just about the time the convention stopped being primarily about the Bernie Sanders youthquakers. I'm going to take a leap here and say that there's something sexual about the excesses of passion in the Bernie-or-Bust movement. I say this not because I agree with what Gloria Steinem said about the motives of young female Sanders supporters a few month ago:
And, when you’re young, you’re thinking, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie...
Steinem saw a sexual component in Sanders support on the part of young women only, but on Monday night at the convention, tears were being shed by Berners of both genders. They weren't crying over romances made at campaign headquarters -- they were crying for Bernie. It reminded me of Beatlemania, the crowd shots at The Ed Sullivan Show. It wasn't just sex, but there was definitely sex.

There's a sexual element to Trump's campaign -- the aging playboy starts talking and middle-aged white men (and some women) start feeling their oats, in a menacing way. And recall what Mark Cuban has said about Trump on a number of occasions:
He’s like that guy who walks into the bar, and will say whatever it’ll take to get laid. Only in this case he’s not trying to fuck some girl. He’s trying to fuck the country.
Hillary Clinton, this year, hasn't seemed capable of inspiring anything like this; the female solidarity in the 2008 campaign had more of a charge. So there was Bill last night, talking about young love -- and trying to build a bridge from that to Hillary's policy wonkery, which I think tickles him to this day.

Maybe it'll be a counter to the flaming youth of the Sanders movement, or the menacing middle-aged crazy in Trump Land. If so, it was a worthwhile effort.


Victor said...

Bill humanized Hillary far better than Melania and tRUMP's older kids from assorted wives, did him.

Estelle Berger said...

Not sure that Rachel heard the same speech I did. Or we have different filters. I heard a sweet story about a young man falling in love with a remarkable young woman, who went on to do remarkable things. Nothing dismissive, demeaning, or stalkerish in his presentation. They had good times and some tough, nay horrible, times and they stuck it out and are apparently still very much in love with each other. I learned some new things about Hillary and think Bill did exactly what he needed to do in that speech.

Feud Turgidson said...

Those remarks by Maddow are more telling against Maddow than at all about either Clinton or both. I'm with the view that says that the approach took a chance but one both worth taking and that should have been taken. (To me, the biggest problem was in how freaking OLD Bill comes across as.).

Maddow's got a low flush point when it comes to sex. It's none of our business why that is USUALLY, and doesn't AT ALL OFTEN play any part AT ALL in the execution of here role as the pre-eminent pre-geriatric serious news journalist in the nation. But it did here, and it's HER problem, HER weak spot, not the Clintons. IMO she was badly wrong to deal with as she did, SO much so that she really ought to consider doing something to address it and overcome the potential harm she's done here.

Never Ben Better said...

^^^^^ What Estelle said. I loved it. And I'm a 67-year-old feminist woman who hasn't forgotten the days when the classified section of the newspaper ran "Help Wanted - Male" and "Help Wanted - Female" sections.

BKT said...

I think Feud is right about Maddow. I can't help thinking about the way she incessantly made the juvenile, grade-school level jokes about "teabagging" back in 2010 when the Tea Party movement started rolling.

It was a bit jarring coming from a journalist who is generally smart and on point about issues.

Joey Blau said...

Well.. There were TP people wearing hats with tea bags hanging from them... And waving boxes of Lipton, and they started as self proclaimed "tea-baggers" before the ridicule hit home.. But yeah Maddow is skittish about sex I guess.

Gerald Parks said...

I agree with Estelle's post.

I find the media narrative of former Senator and Secretary of State Clinton to be sterile and mentions her sex as both a bug and feature in an "ambitious woman" politician.

As I write this occures to me that I can't ever remember thinking of her as a "regular" person having to cook, clean, make a bed, run errands, somebody's "Mommie".

Hummm ... it appears that Bill has done it again ... made the abstract ... real!

Unknown said...

I stopped listening to Rachel Maddow months ago.

Never Ben Better said...

I stopped listening to Maddow when she didn't like one of Obama's speeches or statements and proceeded to given her own "Assume I'm President and Ranter-in-Chief" version. I forget what the topic was now; it was some years ago; but it was so over-the-top partisan, so unlike the essence of the man, and so arrogantly "I know better!" that it curdled my opinion of her.

KenRight said...

I would be more interested in Camille Paglia's take.

Paglia criticized Bill Clinton for not resigning after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which she says "paralyzed the government for two years, leading directly to our blindsiding by 9/11."[66] In the 2000 U.S. presidential campaign she voted for the Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, "[because] I detest the arrogant, corrupt superstructure of the Democratic Party, with which I remain stubbornly registered."[66] In the 2004 U.S. presidential election, Paglia supported John Kerry; and in 2008, she supported Barack Obama.[67] In 2012, she supported Green Party candidate Jill Stein.[68] Paglia is highly critical of 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, calling her a "fraud" and a "liar".[69] Paglia has refused to support either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, indicating in a March column that if Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Party's nomination she would either cast a write-in vote for Bernie Sanders or else vote for Green Party candidate Stein, as she did in 2012.[70]

Unknown said...

Charles Pierce:

"Did you know that Camille Paglia once gave an interview to the Italian press in which she praised the musclebound incompetent that was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger?

"Did you know that the absurdist, Dada-esque He, Trump, that transgressive hero, is really coming from the same place as the Yippies and Groucho Marx?

"Of course, you didn't. You live lives of peaceful bliss, uninterrupted by the ravings of crazy people."

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