In 2005, my nascent Daou Report was picked up by Joan Walsh at Salon. My appreciation for Joan has grown ever since – she has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most insightful political observers in America.
Joan’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton is almost jarring in its scope and frankness. It says everything I’ve spent an entire cycle trying to convey, about gender bias, smears, Rovian dirty tricks, media tropes and the unrelenting verbal assault against one of the most dignified and accomplished women in U.S. history.
One moment [during the CNN town hall] got me particularly excited, and not in a good way. It came when a young white man—entitled, pleased with himself, barely shaving yet—broke the news to Clinton that his generation is with Bernie Sanders. “I just don’t see the same enthusiasm from younger people for you. In fact, I’ve heard from quite a few people my age that they think you’re dishonest. But I’d like to hear from you on why you feel the enthusiasm isn’t there.”
“I’d like to hear from you on why you feel the enthusiasm isn’t there.” I’m not sure I can unpack all the condescension in that question. I heard a disturbing echo of the infamous 2008 New Hampshire debate moment when a moderator asked Clinton: “What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight, who see a resume and like it, but are hesitating on the likability issue?” Yes, the “likability” issue. I found myself thinking: Not again. Why the hell does she have to put up with this again?
Joan goes on:
My problem wasn’t merely with the insulting personal tone of the question. It was also the way the young man anointed himself the voice of his generation, and declared it the Sanders generation. Now I know Bernie is leading among millennials by a lot right now in the polls. Nonetheless, millions of millennials, including millions of young women, are supporting Hillary Clinton. And my daughter, as Nation readers know, is one of them. I find it increasingly galling to see her and her friends erased in this debate.
“Erased.” Exactly. Asha Dahya, herself a millennial, writes an article for BNR entitled No Enthusiasm for Hillary? Tell These Millennial Women.
If there’s no enthusiasm for Hillary, someone please explain 75,000 shares on this post, or 2 million people reached on Facebook in a week since BNR endorsed Hillary.
Back to Joan:
When I’ve disclosed that my daughter works for Clinton—in The Nation, on MSNBC, and on social media—we’ve both come in for trolling so vile it’s made me not merely defensive of her. It’s forced me to recognize how little society respects the passion of the many young women—and men—who are putting their souls into electing the first female president. It’s one thing to note that Sanders is winning among millennials; that’s true. It’s another to impugn the competence and dignity of the literally millions of millennials who support Clinton.
Speaking of vile trolling, Janelle Ross at the Washington Post writes about the heinous commentary generated by a Twitter hashtag traced to a rightwing radio host connected to Glenn Beck (and funded by who knows which Republican billionaire):
Something happened Tuesday in the limited corner of the media universe where the pervasive nature of sexism in American political life has made Lena Dunham seem very much right. The takeaway from the contents of the #WordsThatDontDescribeHillary collection is this. After more than 30 years of serving as both a U.S. senator and secretary of state, among many other resume points, Clinton’s appearance and whether or not she meets a certain set of cultural standards of appropriate or ideal behavior for women remains top of mind for some American voters.
My colleague and friend Susie Madrak reminds me that Hillary Clinton is, as Rebecca Traister once wrote, “The screen upon which all of America’s very long-standing, very complicated, fairly unattractive feelings about women will be projected for the next 13 months. Or, if things go well, the next 10 years.”
Susie and I were discussing the Twitter hashtag and the disgusting flood of gender-based attacks it generated. I agree with Susie when she says, “this kind of nasty, online pack behavior? It’s sexism. I know it when I see it.”
When I spoke up on Twitter about the misogyny of some of the tweets, I was attacked with wild fury by men on the left and right who can’t fathom that tens of thousands of raging males hounding a female candidate is the literal embodiment of the gender barrier. It didn’t matter to my rightwing attackers that in 2009, I stepped up and defended Sarah Palin against the same kind of frenzied attacks.
Like Joan and millions of other Hillary supporters, I’m unapologetic and unabashed in my support of Hillary’s groundbreaking campaign to smash a glass ceiling that has been in place for nearly a quarter millennium.
Joan speaks to the radical nature of Hillary’s campaign:
I think there are few issues as radical as advancing the reproductive autonomy of women. And I think it’s hard to be truly establishment when dangerous men are shooting up your clinics, and the Republican Congress is persistently voting to strip you of your funding. Yes, Planned Parenthood and NARAL have worked hard to become respected political players in the last 30 years, because the women they represent need political clout, not just services. But I’m old enough to remember when feminists were told that our issues—“cultural” issues like abortion and contraception—were costing Democrats elections, so couldn’t we pipe down for a little while? Now we’re the establishment?
I’ll conclude with Joan’s compelling words:
I’ve come to feel passion for Clinton herself, and for what I see as a movement that supports her, even though only Sanders is judged a “movement” candidate. I’m tired of seeing her confronted by entitled men weighing in on her personal honesty and likability, treating the most admired woman in the world like a woman who’s applying to be his secretary. I’m stunned anew by the misogyny behind the attacks on her, and her female supporters, including my daughter. I’m sick of the way so many Sanders supporters, most of them men, feel absolutely no compunction to see things through female Clinton supporters’ eyes, or to worry they might have to court us down the road, take special care not to alienate us lest we sit the race out in November, if our candidate loses. …I stand with a lot of women who feel the same way, including my daughter, and we won’t be erased.