PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Featured: Top of Home Page

A How-to for Hillary

How we want Hillary to appear before us says a whole lot more about us than it does about her.

Politics, with all the attendant debates, sound bites, and YouTube moments (who will ever recover from Mitt Romney’s blessedly brief rendition of “Who Let the Dogs Out”?) has provided a desperate nation with the single most enthralling form of entertainment this season. It’s sport. It’s theater. It’s cinema. And the leading lady, of course, is Hillary Clinton.

Years ago, during the (first) Clinton administration, I went with my friend Gina to see Hillary speak at Wellesley College. It happened to be just at the time when New York Senator Al D’Amato was making a name for himself by attacking the First Lady on unfounded charges. So, when we got in line to shake Hillary’s hand, I said something like, “I’m ashamed to come from a state that would have Al D’Amato as its senator.” I meant it as a show of support. But I received that steely-eyed/frozen smile look that we’ve all seen her shoot at Barack Obama during the debates. Brrrrrrrrrr. Not exactly the response I was hoping for.

I was hoping that the first time I had the chance to vote for a woman president, I’d be simply thrilled and moved by the experience. I was hoping it would be someone I could fully admire and relate to, without reservation. I was hoping it would be someone whose political success was not entangled with that of her husband.

But, you know what? Hillary is who we got this first time out. And, you know what else? Whether or not I vote for her in the Massachusetts Democratic primary (which may have already occurred by the time this article appears), I feel deeply indebted to her. Not only is she accomplished and impressive, she’s the one who’s willing to put herself out there, willing to take the heat no matter how intense it gets, willing to break some barriers and shatter some ceilings for the rest of us.

Who among us could stand such unrelenting media scrutiny, armchair psychologizing, innuendo, charges of playing the “race card”, and all else that’s come her way? What other woman could stomach having her hair, makeup, clothes, jewelry, shoes, and figure (not to mention her marriage) judged so publicly? Who do you know that could handle being called "inauthentic" or "not genuine enough" no matter what she said or did?

Back when Bill Clinton was running for president, the media labeled Hillary a “polarizing figure”, and the term has been repeated so many times over so many years that it’s come to be regarded as a truism. But the real truth is that Americans -- male and female -- are polarized about how they want women in power to “behave”. What we want from Hillary says a whole lot more about us than it does about her.

Can you imagine the infuriating advice Hillary must receive all the time from pundits and pollsters and campaign advisors about how to present herself to the voters? I can. It goes something like this:

It’s okay to appear ambitious. Ambitiousness shows that you’re confident and secure -- a leader.

Don’t appear too ambitious; it freaks men out and offends less accomplished women.

Don’t cry, or it will expose you as too weak to lead our fine nation. And, remember, if you cry, then Jesse Jackson, Jr. will accuse you of crying out of self-pity, rather than for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Do cry, because you don’t want to appear unfeeling and robotic; crying humanizes you! And even if you simply well up a bit, they’ll call it crying, anyway, so you may as well let the waterworks flow.

For God’s sake, don’t laugh. Your laugh is a crazy cackle, and whenever you let loose, you’ll be accused of deflecting attention away from an issue you don’t want to confront.

Do laugh, or else people will think you have no sense of humor, and the last president to lack a sense of humor was Nixon -- you certainly don’t need that comparison.

Don’t allow fine lines to appear on your face, or Rush Limbaugh, that paragon of GQ handsomeness, will question whether the nation is ready to witness a woman age in office.

Do age naturally, because if you go for cosmetic surgery or even Botox, it will reinforce the perception among some voters that you are not genuine.

Flash some cleavage to remind us you’re a woman.

Cover it up because it’s unseemly for a woman “of a certain age” to dress like a slut.

Wear pantsuits because they make you look both fashionable and authoritative.

Don’t wear pantsuits, because Anna Wintour says not to, and you don’t want to mess with the devil.

Use Bill Clinton to campaign on your behalf because he’s the best there is (or at least he used to be) and people still like the two-for-one deal.

Don’t use Bill Clinton because you ought to run on your own record and, besides, he’s really annoying the crap out of a lot of party leaders.

Refer to yourself as 'Hillary' because it makes you seem accessible.

No, refer to yourself as Senator Clinton because it reminds people of your experience.

No, call yourself Hillary Rodham Clinton to show show you maintain an identity separate from your husband’s.

No, call yourself Hillary Clinton (without the Rodham) to show you are committed to your marriage despite all the whispered rumors.

Oh, hell with it, call yourself 'Hill'. It’s a win-win-win: it makes you one of the gals and it reminds people that you work on Capitol “Hill” and it lets you avoid the whole 'Clinton' imbroglio.

And of course no list of advice for Hillary Clinton would be complete without the following: Above all else, be yourself.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.


Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.


MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.