Clinton news roundup

What does the end of her historic presidential campaign mean for women?

Published June 9, 2008 2:45PM (EDT)

Not sure if you noticed, but there were a few stories about Hillary Clinton this weekend. In Salon Sunday, Rebecca Traister's terrific report from Clinton's concession is a beautifully rendered appreciation of a woman sometimes tough to love but tougher to break. As Traister writes, "While we may all wish that our groundbreaking leaders came in prettier packages, and that high butterfat cheese was good for us, the reality is that we get what we get. And we got Hillary Clinton."

But what does the end of her candidacy mean for women? How can Barack Obama win over "the other 18 million," a question Joan Walsh wrote about last week. Would it be prudent to bring her on as vice president?

Perhaps the most troubling issue in the post-Clinton political world is the story that female Clinton supporters, bitter about their candidate's treatment and feeling taken for granted by the Democratic Party, will not support Obama. In a story for the New Republic, former Salon staffer Michelle Goldberg characterizes the situation as nothing less than a crisis in the women's movement. She writes that the conviction "that sexism cost Clinton the nomination is likely to be one of the more toxic legacies of this primary season. It is leaving [Clinton] supporters feeling not just disappointed but victimized, many convinced that Obama's win is illegitimate." She quotes one woman at a rally: "Now I have a message for Howard Dean and the DNC ... I'm not your sweetie!"

That kind of behavior is finally getting the attention of Dean, recently quoted in Jodi Kantor's Times article about the Clinton voting bloc saying, "The wounds of sexism need to be the subject of a national discussion ... Many of the most prominent people on TV behaved like middle schoolers [toward Clinton]."

Blogger Digby agrees, writing, "Clinton's campaign ripped open a hole in our culture and forced us to look inside. And what we found was a simmering cauldron of crude, sophomoric sexism and ugly misogyny that a lot of us knew existed but didn't realize was still so socially acceptable that it could be broadcast on national television and garner nary a complaint from anybody but a few internet scolds like me."

Dahlia Lithwick, in Slate, thinks the most painful rift is within our own gender. "If there is any reconciling to be done at this point in the Democratic primary, it's between women and other women." She writes about the heartbreak felt by second-wave feminists who watched a younger generation rally around Obama. "They truly felt that they had passed our generation a torch and we peed on it."

Gail Collins, writing for the New York Times, sees the silver lining in all this: "By the end of those 54 primaries and caucuses, Hillary had made a woman running for president seem normal."

Maureen Dowd, meanwhile, asks: "Will Hillary's historic bid turn out to be good or bad for women?" According to Dowd, the answer is most likely positive. It might even be a collective boost to our self-esteem. "While studies continue to say that being taller and having a deeper voice can make you seem like a more credible leader, Hillary thrillingly proved herself the best debater and the toughest candidate while being shorter and having the higher voice."

By Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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