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Hillary Clinton: A retraction and an appreciation

So, I know Gentle Readers of this Tohu Bohu are a savvy bunch of sophisticates, but there are other people who are disparaging Hillary Clinton’s achievement at winning the nomination process (yes, it ain’t officially over until the convention, but it’s over enough to say she won) as they have been all along, largely by not giving her any credit for having dominated the race throughout the years 2009-2015. Which she clearly did. I am more impressed by her having won the 2016 race by the end of 2015 than I would be by her having beaten half-a-dozen mainstream well-positioned well-funded candidates in 2016. Ezra Klein over at Vox writes about how It’s time to admit Hillary Clinton is an extraordinarily talented politician, and how our reluctance to admit it is doubly gender-based. Not only do we hold women to higher standards than men, we discount the less “masculine” parts of political success, such as relationship-building and—I don’t exactly know what to call it, as persistence isn’t quite it, but let’s call it the same thing that so many women do and get little credit for: doing their damn’ job every damn’ day and then also making dinner, doing the dishes, making the kids’ lunches and checking their homework. I don’t mean that she is motherly or domestic or any of that, just that after twenty-five years, she is still going, doing today’s work today and preparing for tomorrow.

You know, eight years ago I wrote a list of more than a dozen women who I thought would be better suited to being the First Woman President than Hillary Clinton. I pointed out that the chances of any of them, or of any woman other than Hillary Clinton being elected by 2020, were essentially nugatory, so supporting a woman for President meant supporting the actual woman who was running, rather than withholding support because she was the wrong woman. Eight years later, I agree entirely with that assessment of democracy and choice, but I have changed my mind about the list. It’s a great list, a terrific list of women who might have made (in my opinion) excellent Presidents. But not the First Woman President. For the First Woman President, I want Hillary Clinton.

What changed my mind? Not the policy stuff, or her achievements in the meantime, or really any new information about her character. It’s that—unbelievably—eight years ago I was still somewhat naïve about how prominent women are treated in our society. Since then, we have had many women come forward with stories about what happens on-line and in person when any woman dares to take up space in public, as a candidate, a consultant, a journalist, a creative artist or just visible. The First Woman President, whoever and whenever that will be, is in for a shitstorm that will make Barack Obama’s presidency look like a picnic. The crap she will have to take will be unimaginable beforehand. It will be disgusting and vile, personal and horrific. And somebody, some woman, will have to take it.

Nobody is better prepared for that than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Maybe nobody in history has been better prepared for the horrorshow that awaits our First Woman President, but certainly nobody now, certainly not any of the dozen women I listed or the dozen more I might list if I were writing such a list today based on policies and personality. Maybe that’s a terrible reason to support a Presidential candidate, but there it is. And maybe, with luck, the next one will have it a little easier.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,