Shortly before Trump took the stage for his solo teleprompter recital this week (a performance watched by “the highest number in history,” he assures us this morning via Twitter, lying as usual), Hillary Clinton posted thoughts on Facebook about the way she handled a sexual harassment incident among staffers during her 2008 campaign. It’s worth a read.
To sum up, Clinton says if she had it to do over again, she’d fire the harasser. She describes the measures she took at the time and the thought processes behind them. She expresses support for the woman who came forward then and all the women who are standing up against sexual harassment today. She notes that the actions she took 10 years ago are similar to those taken by The Times in the Glenn Thrush case (i.e., consequences, not termination).
I found Clinton’s musings on the topic interesting because they were genuinely thoughtful, and also because of her long and complicated history and significance to millions of women in the US and around the world. Her post could serve as an excellent starting point for a debate about what we owe women who are harassed in the workplace, how to deal with offenders, what our goals should be as new social norms emerge, etc.
Because of who Hillary Clinton is, critiquing her actions then and now is fair game. Thoughtful analysis of these topics is welcome in comments and would be a service to readers of a major daily like The Post. This piece, published in yesterday’s Post about Clinton’s statement, ain’t that:
[Clinton] released a tepid response via Twitter the day the story broke and a more thorough one via Facebook days later. But it’s not clear whether either said enough. Does Clinton’s handling of this latest story exemplify a fatal flaw?
Opinion writers Christine Emba, Ruth Marcus, and Alyssa Rosenberg discuss.
It’s a 9th grade slam book that merits display in the Heathers Hall of Shame. Some excerpts below the fold, annotated in bold font:
Christine Emba: Was it really a statement, or more of a rambling letter to herself? It came across my screen this morning, and my first instinct was to roll my eyes at the self-indulgence of it all. [Emba would be a smoking ember if there were a God of Irony with smiting powers.]
Alyssa Rosenberg: Yes, there is SO MUCH going on there.
Christine Emba: When I read it, the first thing I noticed was that so much of it was about her — excusing herself, talking about how hard the decision was for her, bringing us into her personal debates about forgiveness and second chances. There was that hoary first line: “The most important work of my life has been to support and empower women,” but very little was about the woman in question. In the entire statement, “I” appears 37 times, and “Sorry” not even once… [The lazy-ass word search “I” trope again — shades of hack reviews of President Obama’s speeches. And FTR, Clinton’s Facebook post makes it clear there was “very little about the woman in question” because that woman wishes to remain in the background and not become the center of a media circus.]
Alyssa Rosenberg: And parts of it felt so inevitable, most notably the turn to blame the media. [Note: Clinton did NOT “blame the media,” but rather cited a contemporary case as an example of how sexual harassment issues are handled today. If she got some satisfaction from bringing up a recent scandal The Times would rather we all forget, well, for fuck’s sake, can anyone blame her?]
Christine Emba: The media has long been her scapegoat, and not without reason. [Understatement of the goddamned millennium!] But in this case, it was frustrating to see. because ultimately, this wasn’t about whether the media did something wrong — which they didn’t! — it was about what Hillary did (or, as it were, didn’t). And for all her discussion of her feelings and thought processes, she never fully owned up to it. Still!
Ruth Marcus: More important, reading the statement, I felt like: Haven’t I watched this movie before? The delay in responding — why oh why can’t she ever get it right the first time. The “in retrospect, I would have handled it differently” — definitely having some PTSD flashbacks to e-mails there.
Christine Emba: Completely true.
Alyssa Rosenberg: Right, Ruth! I’m burned out, and I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. [? actual size]
Ruth Marcus: For the record: Trump is terrible. He has done some terrible things where women are involved. I try to call him out all the time although, confession, some stuff slips through the cracks — e.g., the porn star thing I haven’t gotten around to writing about. But I write about Hillary and my frustrations with her — going back to the campaign — not because I hate her but because — like Alyssa before the Big Breakup — I like her so much and I am so disappointed by her seeming inability to change some drawbacks in the way she approaches things.
Alyssa Rosenberg: I hate that you even have to issue that disclaimer about Trump, Ruth! [? again, actual size]
Christine Emba: Yes. We can all agree on Trump’s manifold flaws, to the point that they become less worth discussing. Because there’s nothing to argue! Truly nothing new there. [This right here is why Trump is president, you criminally irresponsible fucking numpties!]
Christine Emba: But with Hillary, there is a sense of some sort of promise being thwarted. Although I personally wonder if that promise was ever truly there.
Alyssa Rosenberg: Well, and that’s kind of the big question, isn’t it?
Ruth Marcus: Everything now is seen through the lens of whether it’s good or bad for the Resistance. That’s not the way I think about things, and if I started to I would quit. I think it’s really important for writers, even opinion writers, to call out the people they agree with, maybe even especially.
Christine Emba: Holding those people accountable could make them better. ::cough:: HILLARY ::cough:: [How’d that work out in 2016, you worthless fucking hacks? Choke, don’t cough!]
If you suspect I’m cherry-picking to make The Posties’ conversation look like vapid, self-referential drivel from privileged, conceited twits, I invite you to read the whole thing. It’s all like that. And this trio of carping nitwits are among the least offensive crafters of our Beltway media narrative — much more often, it’s created by predatory, dickhead men. It’s infuriating.
At various times, I’ve found something to admire in things written by each of these women. But put all three in a room and drop the name “Hillary Clinton,” and they display all the judgment and insight of a pack of meth-addled spider monkeys. If this phenomenon were localized to Clinton, okay, maybe we can just take one fascist buffoon in the White House for the team and hope that all will be well in the future.
Sadly, I don’t think we’ll find it works that way.