Magazine article The Progressive

Sleepwalking through the Campaign

Magazine article The Progressive

Sleepwalking through the Campaign

Article excerpt

Just a year ago the hot question was: Is America ready for a black or female President? As the campaigns wear on, the question has shifted to: Can America survive the tedium of its black and female candidates?

Obama, for example, hasn't turned out to be any more challenging to white America than reruns of The Cosby Show. He was slow to pick up on the Jena 6 case and never showed up at the rally--although, to be fair, neither did Clinton or Edwards. Like the others, he has refrained from noting that Giuliani, in addition to being a cell-phone exhibitionist and a 9/11-abuser, presided over a New York City police department famed for its torture and killing of young black males.


But it's Hillary who is causing the citizenry's heads to pitch forward and collapse on their chests. Every time she opens her mouth, her flat, monotonic voice lays out yards of opaque white gauze, muffling any possibility of discourse. Where does she stand? Over here, and a little to the side, and maybe a few steps to the right. Hers is known as the "flawless" campaign, but no one in it seems to be able to turn off the endlessly triangulating tape in her head.

I just wish I could work up the same degree of enthusiasm for Hillary as my friend Katha Pollitt, who recently told The New York Times: "If people don't stop saying incredibly sexist things about Hillary Clinton, I may just have to vote for her." But what are these incredibly sexist things? True, there was the whole faux "cleavage" issue, and the occasional whack-job who writes to enlighten me about Clinton's bisexuality or Chelsea's true daddy.

Then--in of all places, feminist Maureen Dowd's column--I found a genuinely sexist comment about Hillary. Dowd apparently approvingly quoted Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, saying that Clinton is "like some hellish housewife who has seen something that she really, really wants and won't stop nagging you until finally you say, fine, take it, be the damn President, just leave me alone. …

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