Salon reviews a book (via memeorandum) called Big Girls Don’t Cry by Rebecca Traister, one of their own. As might be expected, the book (subtitled The election that changed everything for women) is quite favorably received, and the reviewer posts part of an interview with the author.
Ms. Traister says, in part,
It’s the whole spoiled rich lady thing, which is a barb that’s been thrown at Michelle [Obama —ed.]. … It wasn’t really about her trip to Spain. It was a lot of people who have been stirred up into this level of aggression toward Obama in general, getting just the excuse they needed to aim a little bit of it at Michelle.
Well, pardon me, Rebecca, but that’s purest bulls*t. Criticism of the Spain trip had nothing to do with the perquisites and privileges that go with being First Lady, whether Democrat, Republican, black, white, or purple with orange spots. Of course the First Lady of the United States stays in five-star hotels; the American people wouldn’t have it any other way. Of course the spouse of the President travels by VIP transport with Air Force flight crews and an entourage of security people; in the first place it’s necessary to avoid mobs and assassins, and in the second it’s a matter of national prestige.
The criticism of Ms. Obama over the Spain trip was that at a time when Americans are hurting because of a failing economy, having the President’s wife gather up a bunch of her best buds and whisk off on a (largely taxpayer-funded) tour of high-priced resorts, without even a fig-leaf of avowed political or diplomatic purpose, is a direct and deliberate slap in the face, and that is precisely its basis. The same charges would have been made against them if Cindy and Meghan had assembled a group of cronies and hared off to the Riviera for fun and games. If you can’t or won’t see that, and insist on attributing the motives of the bigoted stereotype(s) in your head to your opponents, you will never understand your opposition; and, since that opposition has begun to figure out that you aren’t attacking them, you are attacking a strawman set up for the purpose, you will never land a blow against them, or contribute to understanding.
A similar analysis can be applied to Ms. Traister’s view of Hillary Clinton:
I became increasingly sensitive to the scorn directed at her, and it built and built as she continued to fight, and it drove me nuts. Because I thought her continuing to fight was awesome and hilarious. I thought it was completely redefining how we view women and our expectations for them in public and political life. She would not comply. She would not give in. She would not do what the pundits wanted her to do, what her opponents wanted her to do, what reporters were insisting that she do, what everyone was telling her was the smart thing to do or, in one case, the classy thing.
Well and good; beyond noting that “if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen”, I have little to quibble with there. But Traister goes on:
…Palin, now, is [Hillary —ed.] Clinton-like in her refusal to relent at this point. Their politics are wildly divergent, but Palin’s path in some ways does mirror Clinton’s in the last part of the primary season, in that everyone keeps predicting she’s done and she’s not. When she stopped being governor, I thought, well, that’s the end of her… She defies every bit of conventional wisdom, and that is very much as Hillary was in the second half of the primary season.
…which is apparently not admirable in Ms. Traister’s view. She explains why:
Whose fault it is that Sarah Palin has become Sarah Palin is a really complicated question. To a large degree, it’s Sarah Palin’s fault. To a large degree, it’s the fault of Republicans who thought they could bring her in as a toy, a young attractive Hillary replacement. They didn’t ask any questions about her, they didn’t consider her as a real person and a real candidate with a real history… She behaved in very retro ways, ways we’d been fighting for years to not have to behave.
The idea that Sarah Palin might actually be genuine, might actually be what she appears to be rather than a “toy”, never enters Ms. Traister’s mind. This is purely and simply the rah-rah-team version of Party politics — Ms. Clinton is a Democrat; so is Ms. Traister; Sarah Palin is not, and must therefore be villainous from the get-go.
It also never appears in Ms. Traister’s cognition range that one objection to Hillary! might be that she is analogous to the “mold-breaking, ball-busting, aggressive, relentless female” who gets the family business, built up over years by her husband’s effort, as a result of the decree in a messy divorce. Until she was crowned Senator, Hillary Clinton had never run a campaign and never occupied a public office, whether elected or appointed. The way she got into politics was to be the wife of the President, and her performance as Senator and as Secretary of State are about what one could expect from somebody who observed an officeholder closely but without assuming responsibility, and said, basically, “Well, that looks easy.” Her complaints about maltreatment during the campaign — which, to be scrupulously fair to Ms. Clinton, have mostly come from supporters and observers — have an eerie echo of the woman who responded with distraught tears to Larry Summers’s suggestion that women might, in general and with exceptions, be too emotionally-oriented for successful careers in math and the hard sciences.
On the other hand, Sarah Palin has campaigned for, won, and performed in real, elective offices, and if the offices are minor, they’re more substantive than anything Hillary has ever executed. A person who can characterize the treatment Clinton got as brutally unfair, while maintaining that Palin got just what she deserved, has no business commenting on anything in politics If the standard is “what treatment should a woman candidate receive”, rather than “what treatment can any candidate expect”, the glass ceiling is reinforced rather than broken.
No, I haven’t read the book, nor am I likely to. If the interview is a fair sample, the only insight it could offer is the depths to which leftoids are prepared to go to defend their preconceptions rather than accepting the world as it is, and that has become so obvious the need for reinforcement is minimal. The true value of Sarah Palin and the TEA parties is that a few people on the Right have begun to see that Teh Narrative is a weak point in the leftoids’ armor, and started to exploit it. Ms. Traister could be a more valuable advocate for her side if she discarded her barrier of strawmen and responded to the threat that actually exists.