This is the fourth installment of a six-part piece regarding sexist and inaccurate views of Hillary Clinton, adapted from an essay published on my website.
To read Part 1 of the series, addressing the claim that Hillary is “crooked” or untrustworthy, click here.
To read Part 2 of the series, addressing the claim that Hillary is not “likable,” click here.
To read Part 3 of the series, addressing the claim that Hillary is “overly ambitious,” click here.
So I was recently on vacation in Hawaii and out on a snorkeling trip in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when somehow the boat’s skipper struck up a conversation with me about politics. I know. I know. My son and daughter also wonder how that can happen to me! It’s not like I was wearing my “I’m the FeMOMist” t-shirt. Anyway, I mentioned that I was a Hillary Clinton supporter and this happened to be right after the FBI Director had declared that, although Clinton was negligent in her handling of personal vs. work related e-mails while Secretary of State, she had not done anything criminal and charges would not be appropriate.
The skipper―a white dude, who had fancied Marco Rubio before Rubio dropped out of the race―said to me (and to this woman who had, upon overhearing our conversation, announced with no small measure of dread that she was from Texas and sick of being a closet Democrat):
“What I always want to ask a Democrat when I meet one is how you can explain Hillary Clinton constantly getting into legal messes?”
And then he listed the usual, most recent suspects: “Benghazi” & “Email-gate” (for lack of a better term).
“Funny you should mention that,” I said (given that it is yet another old, tired GOP trope, and I blog about this stuff). I did show considerable constraint, however, and refrained from asking him if he got all of his information from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.
Then, I explained to said white skipper dude (with the help of the closeted Texas Democrat who was something of a kindred spirit at sea), pretty much as follows...
Fallacy #4: Hillary Clinton is a serial criminal and scandal magnet.
How It Continues to Arise: This fallacy is so clever and diabolical! The GOP has alleged claim after claim over the years against Hillary Clinton—from Whitewater, to Benghazi, to E-Mails. Much to Republicans’ chagrin, she has never been charged with a crime, but the unsupported allegations continue to be raised against her like a blood libel, as if they are true. They then accuse her of being a scandal magnet—when they are the ones who created the scandals out of whole cloth in the first place. Donald Trump has picked up this line of attack.
The Counterargument: After all these years of GOP machinations attempting to get Hillary Clinton, one would think that if there was anything there, they would have uncovered it by now, no? Yet Hillary has never been charged with a crime. Never. No, really! Maybe try reading or watching another news source besides Fox News for a change and you would know this to be true.
President Obama pointed out that Clinton’s e-mail fracas was evidence of carelessness but nothing more. Another (male & Republican) secretary of state, Colin Powell, did similar things like commingling personal and official e-mail accounts. FBI Director James Comey explained that Hillary’s handling of her e-mails did not rise to the level of misconduct that landed David Petraeus in trouble. There is no evidence to suggest that Clinton specifically intended to compromise national security or deliberately misled investigators.
Negligence is not a crime, so end of story, right? Indeed, Comey is a particularly credible investigator given that he’s a Republican and worked for the Bush Administration as a deputy attorney general, right? Wrong. As predictably as death and taxes, the GOP is already embarking on another witch hunt regarding Email-gate the likes we haven’t seen since, well, since the Benghazi witch hunt.
Benghazi is possibly an even better example than Email-gate of much ado about nothing. One would think Clinton had personally and purposefully led Americans into harm’s way for no good reason. Oh wait, that was George W. Bush and Dick Chaney, and the Iraq War. After 11 hours of questioning, and multiple GOP launched investigations, there has been nothing uncovered to suggest that Clinton was in any way at fault for what very unfortunately happened at Benghazi. This after then-President Bush on September 11, 2001 read to children from a storybook while terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and other places, killing 2,992 more people than were killed at Benghazi. (Interestingly, there was never a specific investigation into Bush’s role in allowing 9-11 to happen while he was commander in chief. Hmmm...perhaps the Democrats should have taken a page out of the GOP playbook and made hay out of what apparently was at least a negligent failure of intelligence on the part of the Bush administration. But I digress....)
Witch hunts and witch trials. Why is it that historically when girls or women show possession of a dazzling array of gifts―intelligence, success, leadership, power, etc.―or when bad stuff happens to men, it is assumed that there must be something preternaturally malevolent at play? I can’t help but see striking parallels between the paternalistic misogyny of Salem, Massachusetts circa 1692 and an 11-hour interrogation of Hillary Clinton that still somehow does not put to rest the gossip and innuendo that she magically caused the deaths of four men, thousands of miles away. And what about Joan of Arc? Frankly, if the GOP had as an option burning Clinton at the stake, I can’t say for sure they wouldn’t consider using it. Likewise, male-conceived taboos have traditionally been associated with the very things that are the essence of womanhood, such as menstruation.
Because a woman can’t really be as smart, and as powerful, and as successful as Hillary Clinton―even in 2016―without it being due to slight of hand and black magic, right?