The press and the other candidates have been in an uproar this week over Hillary Clinton's alleged playing of the gender card. They've said, in particular, that her new video "The Politics of Pile-On" is a complaint about men ganging up on her because she's a woman.
I'm baffled by this. I think the video is cute and funny and nicely edited, and the whole point is in the clip of Clinton at the end, in which she says, smiling and confident: "I seem to be the topic of great conversation and consternation, and that's for a reason."
It seems obvious to me that the implication is that the other candidates are piling on, not because she's a woman, but because she's such a strong candidate, and/or because she's by far the frontrunner in polls.
Ah, the articles say, but it wasn't just the video. It was also the speech Clinton gave at Wellesley. Why, in that speech, she said, "In so many ways, this all women's college prepared me to compete on the all boys' club of presidential politics." That's obviously a complaint about her male opponents beating up on her! She's claiming to be a victim!
Again, I don't get it. That transcript of the speech isn't the best-edited transcript ever, but I skimmed through it and I don't see a single line that complains about being a victim of male opponents. I see a strong woman talking about one of the sources of her strength. The speech is not about being a victim; it's about being strong.
No, wait! cry the articles. It's not the speech that says she's a victim, it's the fundraising letter she sent out after the debate! (More specifically, the letter that campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle sent out.)
This one I can't talk about in detail, because I can't find the text of the fundraising letter. But here's the most extensive quote I've found from it:
"On that stage in Philadelphia, we saw six against one. Candidates who had pledged the politics of hope practiced the politics of pile on instead. Her opponents tried a whole host of attacks on Hillary. She is one strong woman. She came through it well. But Hillary's going to need your help."
I can see a small amount of the victim-woman-attacked-by-men idea in those lines, sorta kinda. But I don't think I would have parsed it that way if I hadn't been primed to do so by dozens of news articles.
So I don't get it. Pretty much everyone claims that Clinton was, in all three of the above contexts, "playing the gender card," showing weakness, trying to say that men are beating up on her because she's a poor helpless woman. Whereas I see all three of them as saying that Clinton is a strong woman competing--and winning!--in the political arena; and only one of the three items even mentions the gender of her opponents.
Finally, many of the articles talk about Clinton's poor performance at the debate. I didn't see the debate and I haven't read the transcripts; I was going to say "but by all accounts she didn't do well," but I'm not even sure I can trust all accounts, given what all accounts say about the stuff above. At any rate, I'm perfectly willing to believe that she did badly in the debate. But if that's the real issue, I'd rather see the media and the other candidates focusing on that (and to their credit, some of them are) rather than trying to claim that Clinton is somehow calling herself a poor maligned victim.
Is it just me? Do y'all think that the video and the Wellesley speech and the fundraising letter are claims of victimization? If so, can you tell me more about why you see it that way? You may be right; I may well be missing something, and if so I'd be interested in finding out what it is.
(I suspect that one part of it may be that some people interpret the phrase "pile-on" as automatically implying unfair ganging-up on a weaker victim. I don't interpret it that way, but I'm now thinking that maybe many or most people do; that would explain a lot of the reaction I'm seeing.)