In the coming days, you will hear many asking whether Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House fell short because of sexism. And there will be that related question, “is Obama sexist?”
There is really not much evidence that Obama is sexist. There is only, “Hold on a second, sweetie. We’ll hold a press avail,” which he told a reporter at an event outside Detroit. And perhaps his comment to a factory worker in Allentown, Pa., that “you’re gorgeous, you look like you might be a dancer.”
Okay, there’s also the time Obama, after a particularly tough exchange with Hillary, told a crowd, “You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out.” And, “You know, over the last several weeks since she fell behind, she’s resorted to what’s called ‘kitchen sink’ strategies. . . . She’s got the kitchen sink flying, and the china flying, and the, you know, the buffet is coming at me.”
Also, “I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal.” (This one is especially benign, considering he went with “periodically” instead of “every 28 days or so.”)
And when Obama offered the backhanded compliment “You’re likeable enough, Hillary” in a New Hampshire debate, some women may have wondered why we never heard this kind of jab at John Edwards or Bill Richardson.
And then there was Michelle Obama’s comment that, “Our view is that if you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House.”
But other than that, there’s no evidence of sexism.
So Obama likely isn’t sexist. And though some say his campaign, friends, and allies might be, there’s not much evidence of that, either.
Okay, so when congressman Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.) was asked whether Clinton should drop out of the race, he said, “Glenn Close should have stayed in that tub” — comparing Hillary to the obsessive psychotic from Fatal Attraction.
And maybe John Edwards responded to a question from a reporter about Hillary getting choked up in a New Hampshire appearance by declaring, “I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business.” And Edwards did say he was “not sure about that coat,” referring to the coral jacket Hillary wore at one debate.
And of course, Obama’s friend of 20 years, Fr. Michael Pfleger, on the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ, painted Hillary as crying because “a black man is stealing my show.”
In the interest of fairness, I should note there were a few other such isolated incidents — columnists decrying her “frigidity” and “inability to keep Bill on the porch”;the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan writing about her cleavage; Randi Rhodes calling her “a f***ing whore”; Maureen Dowd claiming that she “has turned into Sybil”; MSNBC reporter David Schuster asking whether Chelsea was being “pimped out”; Katie Couric asking Hillary to confirm that her “nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire”; cartoonist Pat Oliphant depicting her crying while facing hostile foreign leaders (and Osama bin Laden expressing, “she’s so sensitive, I had no idea!”); Chris Matthews declaring that “the reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around”; comments from an unnamed Democratic party official that her effort once she fell behind in delegates was “the Tonya Harding option”; magician Penn Jillette declaring on MSNBC that Obama’s success in February was due to Black History Month and Hillary’s subsequent success could be attributed to “White Bitch Month”; an audience member at a debate asking her if she prefers diamonds or pearls; and John Aravosis of AmericaBlog posting pictures of Monica Lewinsky with her mouth wide open every time Hillary irked him.
But other than that, there is no evidence that sexism played a role in Hillary Clinton’s defeat.