Monday, May 12, 2008

Sexist attack on Clinton goes too far

I've been plenty critical of Senator Clinton at times for both her positions on issues and for some things she's said. And I've been very clear about my support for Senator Obama and I'm glad that is getting close to clinching the nomination. But in this post I have to say that Rep. Steve Cohen, an Obama supporter from Tennessee, went just one step too far, though Cohen did apologize for the remark. Not so some bloggers, who have gleefully spread it around on the internet.

He compared her to Glenn Close's character in the movie, "Fatal Attraction". I saw that movie once, many years ago, and have no desire to see it again. Close's character plays an obsessed psychotic killer who has an affair with a married man and becomes obsessed with murdering his wife and taking her place.

To begin with, this remark is dripping with sexism. No one considers Hillary Clinton to be a psychopath, but the intent is to suggest otherwise. In fact, about the only thing that is common between Clinton and the character is that they are both female. Cohen probably considered the first real or fictional female psychopath he could think of (I guess Aileen Wuournos crossed his mind later.) Stop and think. Suppose a male Hispanic politician was compared to Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem's chillingly cold killer in No Country for Old Men.) Would it be considered a racial smear? Absolutely. And it is no less a sexist smear to compare a female politician to such a horrible character.

I know, I know. Some Republican will undoubtedly point to some post where someone compared Bush to Hitler. All I'd say about that is that it is also wrong (There was only one Hitler, thank God, and no one since then has been as completely and unalterably evil.) I have been known to compare Bush to Mussolini a few times but when I have it has not been a reference to any real or perceived Italian heritage, but rather a reference to macho but incompetent leadership and poorly planned military adventurism (and I'll let the present state of things in the world make that case.) In other words, it is a comment about policy, not a comment about DNA or anatomy.

But while I may disagree about many things with Hillary Clinton, I respect her for putting her best effort and point of view out there, and we should applaud the first woman to come as close as she did to being nominated by a major political party for President of the United States instead of passing off sexist cheap shots.

1 comment:

wunelle said...

Hear, hear.

I've always thought that her sex makes the mountain which she must climb even higher. So many people are threatened by a strong woman. The man who is tough is seen as tough; the tough woman gets branded a bitch.