Hillary Clinton Hysteria
James Poulos contemplates Hillary Clinton’s hysteria and Hillary Clinton Hysteria.
Christopher Hitchens and then Stanley Crouch summing up M(r)s. Clinton. There is no way around the uncomfortable fact that both men use the world ‘hysterical’ to pin the tail on a complex of emotional pathologies that’s inseparable from Hillary Clinton’s womanhood. As mannish as she sometimes tries so hard to be, Clinton makes no sense and would not exist as she is as a man. Her madness is a very special kind of female madness, a kind that results in a body of female voters of a certain age and a certain disposition and certain personal history to back her campaign with a steely dedication that in men would be called fanaticism but in these women probably requires some other name.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: a lot of females I know under the age of, say, 40 just don’t get it. They don’t get the stop-at-nothing desperation. They don’t get the high-school-worthy machinations. They don’t get the obsession with beating men at their own game, especially men of the caliber that dominates big-league American politics. They recoil or wince at the strategic use of the waterworks, at the knowing deployment of canned phrases and plausibly deniable ‘misstatements’. At her worst, Hillary is like a fish trying to ride a bicycle. Actually, at her very worst, Hillary realizes she is like this and starts doing things in public designed to eliminate that image and prevent it from occupying the minds of voters, things which actually make the uncomfortable truth more obvious to anyone who doesn’t share her psycho-historical predicament, and the quality and character of those things is what people are talking about when they talk about Hillary being hysterical.
An interesting bit of pop psychology that neatly parallels Alice Walker’s commentary on Barack Obama’s race. People’s self-identity is naturally wrapped up in their surroundings, whether economic, racial, gender, or temporal.
Poulos is right, too, that there’s a generational gap here. Even as late as twenty years ago, when I was training to be an Army officer, my female colleagues were, with few exceptions, either trying to ape the hyper-masculine leadership style of our boorish drill sergeant or ridiculed for being too soft. Nowadays, being feminine and strong aren’t considered mutually exclusive (at least so long as it’s a woman combining those qualities).
A lack of comfort with one’s persona isn’t a purely female phenomenon, of course. To take the most obvious example, Al Gore was rightly lampooned for constantly trying to reinvent himself during the 2000 campaign.
Hillary Clinton is faced with the additional complication that people have known her for sixteen-odd years and they don’t much like her. Trying on new personalities until she finds one that works may be her only option. But she’s running out of time.
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