Posts Tagged ‘Rebecca Traister’

Rebecca Traister was recently given unusually extended access to Hillary, interviewing her over a period of months this Spring and ending just this morning at Wellesley.  This profile is set for the May 29 issue of New York Magazine. It’s a hefty weekend read. There might be tears. Just saying.

Hillary Clinton Is Furious. And Resigned. And Funny. And Worried.

The surreal post-election life of the woman who would have been president.


Photographs by Lynsey Addario

Hillary backstage at a speech in May.

  2:36 pm

When I walk into the Chappaqua dining room in which Hillary Clinton is spending her days working on her new book, I am greeted by a vision from the past. Wearing no makeup and giant Coke-bottle glasses, dressed in a gray mock-turtleneck and black zip sweatshirt, Hillary looks less Clinton and more Rodham than I have ever seen her outside of college photographs. It’s the glasses, probably, that work to make her face look rounder, or maybe just the bareness of her skin. She looks not like the woman who’s familiar from television, from newspapers, from America of the past 25 years, but like the 69-year-old version of the young woman who came to the national stage with a wackadoodle Wellesley commencement speech in 1969. With no more races to run and no more voters to woo with fancy hair, Clinton appears now as she might have if she’d aged in nature and not in the crucible of American politics. Still, this is not Hillary of the woods. She is reemerging, giving speeches and interviews. It’s clear that she is making an active choice to remain a public figure.

It’s the day after Donald Trump has fired FBI director James Comey, the man who many — including Clinton — believe is responsible for the fact that she is spending this Wednesday in May working at a dining-room table in Chappaqua and not in the Oval Office. Clinton checks with her communications director, Nick Merrill, about what’s happened in the past hour — she’s been exercising — and listens to the barrage of updates, nodding like a person whose job requires her to be up-to-date on what’s happening, even though it does not.

“I am less surprised than I am worried,” she says of the Comey firing. “Not that he shouldn’t have been disciplined. And certainly the Trump campaign relished everything that was done to me in July and then particularly in October.” But “having said that, I think what’s going on now is an effort to derail and bury the Russia inquiry, and I think that’s terrible for our country.”

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Oh please! Can we not all go swooning and sobbing over Rebecca Traister’s passive-aggressive treatment of Hillary and her campaign?

Clinton stood alongside Barack and Michelle Obama before a crowd of 33,000 people outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, the spot where the architects of the nation had endowed its citizens with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — as they built their new country on the backs of enslaved African-Americans and subsidiary women.

The founders did not “endow the citizens.” Traister takes the Republican deification of the founders to an even higher level. The document says “all men are created equal.”  We chose to interpret that generic “men” as “people,” and that is fine, but nationality and citizenship are not specified.  The proper interpretation is “all people” (on earth) are “endowed by the Creator” with these inalienable rights. Americans are not endowed by America’s founders with these rights. They are among God-given human rights (the implication is that there are other rights as well), according to the document.

The enormity of the upset came at the end of what had already been a traumatic election for the women and immigrants and people of color to whom Clinton was trying to appeal, and who had spent months being derided, threatened, groped, caricatured, insulted, and humiliated by Donald Trump and his supporters.

I don’t know about the groping part, but what was most dramatic at his rallies were the actual physical attacks on people, male and female, who were, usually quietly, protesting Trump and his policies in some way.

Clinton was surely a flawed candidate; but Trump was a catastrophically awful one. The disparity is enough to make one wonder if she ever really had a chance.

This is a meme. In what way was Hillary a flawed candidate? All candidates have flaws. No one is perfect. If Hillary were a man, would she be called “flawed?” This meme had been repeated so often by Election Day that many simply accepted it, and clearly Traister has bought into it.  Hillary is not perfect and was not a perfect candidate, but she was as close to perfect as we are likely to see for a good long time.

In debates, when attacked as a member of the corrupt global oligarchy, Clinton would bleat about being a woman, a grandmother, different from literally everyone else ever to have been on a general-election presidential-debate stage, yet her claims never really landed.

Excuse me? “Bleat?” Words mean things. The metaphor here is that of a nanny goat. Insulting.

White women voters have consistently marked their ballots Republican since the 1970s: 56 percent of them voted for Romney over Obama in 2012, 53 percent for McCain over Obama in 2008, 55 percent for George W. Bush over John Kerry in 2004.

Not sure what the point of this is. It explains nothing. Romney and McCain lost. Bush won. What is the point?

“Crying as if someone died” is a text message I received from more than one friend last week. And it is as if someone died: a dream of what we could have been, of the president we could have had. And about the loss of one of the most inspiring (and sure, flawed, but good God am I tired of having to always acknowledge that she was flawed) leaders many of us will know.

And she doubles down on the “flaw? meme.

The media narrative about the wretchedness of her political skills has obscured the fact that Hillary Clinton was a pretty great candidate for the presidency. Not a magnetic or inspiring speaker, no. The bearer of way too much awkward baggage, yes. But also: steady and strong and strategic and smart. Despite being under investigation by Congress and the FBI and the media, despite having her State Department emails made public, despite having her campaign staff’s emails hacked, despite being married to a man whose legislative and personal history made him deeply problematic, and despite the rolling waves of sexism directed at her and the racism directed at her predecessor and political partner Obama, she literally won the popularity contest.

“The wretchedness of her political skills,” the media meme Traister does nothing to banish. Hillary did everything she was supposed to do, and she did it all thoroughly and assiduously. She listened to the people. She took note of their concerns. She did her homework. She worked out solutions with expert advisors.  Let’s completely ignore that the purpose of the investigations was to do exactly what they accomplished: tarnish her image politically, hobble her, defeat her bid for the highest office in the land. There was never a legitimate reason for Benghazi – come server – come email investigations. The purpose was #NeverHillary. They accomplished that.

Let’s leave WJC out of this.  He was not running. She was.  He did leave office with a 60% approval rating, so what was the point there?

Why this November 14 New York Magazine article is suddenly circulating today is beyond me.  Like every post-mortem so far, it is a balloon-drop of possibilities with no solid conclusion. Back in May 2016, Traister told us how she came to Hillary slowly, and judging from some of her TV appearances, a little grudgingly.  We can see this opus as a glass half full: we are glad she got there at all.  Or we can view it as half-empty: setting up the article within the frame of the founders-as-demi-gods meme.  This stands as a premise she does nothing to shatter.


To circulate this uncritically as “read-cry-share?” Sorry. Traister needs to shed a lot more of her hidden anti-Hillary baggage before I would do that.  Read it, by all means, but do so with your virtual red pen not with a box of tissues.


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I’ve never felt entirely comfortable with Rebecca Traister portrayed as a “pro-Hillary” commentator (as Melissa Harris Perry cast her).  My instinct was correct according to her New York Magazine article.  She once was, she admits in this article,  a “young Hillary-hater.”  But a few days with Hillary on the primary trail have elicited an article well worth a read.

Hillary Clinton vs. Herself

There’s nothing simple about this candidacy—or candidate.
Photographs by Brigitte Lacombe


Clinton speaking at the Louisville Slugger Hall of Fame on May 10.

In a locker room at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, people are waiting in line to get their pictures taken with Hillary Clinton before a rally in the school’s gym. It’s a kid-heavy crowd, and Clinton has been chatting easily with them.

But soon there’s only one family left and the mood shifts. Francine and David Wheeler are there with their 13-year-old son, Nate, and his 17-month-old brother, Matty, who’s scrambling around on the floor. They carry a stack of photographs of their other son, Benjamin, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, when he was 6. David presses the photos of his dead son on Clinton with the urgency of a parent desperate to keep other parents from having to show politicians pictures of their dead 6-year-olds.

Leaning in toward Wheeler as if they are colleagues mapping out a strategy, Clinton speaks in a voice that is low and serious. “We have to be as organized and focused as they are to beat them and undermine them,” she says. “We are going to be relentless and determined and focused … They are experts at scaring people, telling them, ‘They’re going to take your guns’ … We need the same level of intensity. Intensity is more important than numbers.” Clinton tells Wheeler that she has already discussed gun control with Chuck Schumer, who will likely be leading the Senate Democrats in 2017; she talks about the differences between state and federal law and between regulatory and legislative fixes, and describes the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which extended the protections of the Second Amendment, as “a terrible decision.” She is practically swelling, Hulk-like, with her desire to describe to this family how she’s going to solve the problem of gun violence, even though it is clear that their real problem — the absence of their middle child — is unsolvable. When Matty grabs the front of his diaper, Clinton laughs, suggesting that he either needs a change or is pretending to be a baseball player. She is warm, present, engaged, but not sappy. For Clinton, the highest act of emotional respect is perhaps to find something to do, not just something to say. “I’m going to do everything I can,” she tells Wheeler. “Everything I can.”

Unlike Traister, Aaron Loeb is not a famous author or commentator. But he was, for a long stretch of the primary season, a fence-sitter.  His article in Medium is an odyssey with some healthy helpings of the history of Republican strategies against prior good, solid Democratic candidates.

Less than 100 years ago…

There are women alive today in the United States who were born without the right to vote. We are on the verge of nominating the first woman in our history to be a major-party candidate. On the other side, we are on the verge of nominating the first major-party candidate to have never held political office since Eisenhower. Eisenhower beat Hitler. Donald Trump thinks Hitler had a lot of good ideas.

On one hand, we have a potential to yet again move our country forward, past its darkest histories of prejudice, exclusion, and failing to live up to its own ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all its people. On the other hand, we have a man who has expressly stated that America needs to move backwards to the “good old days.”

Personally, I began this long, bruising, ugly primary feeling thrilled at the prospect of a Sanders or Clinton candidacy. It seemed like the Republicans were going to throw up all over themselves, while lighting themselves on fire, while tripping on a garbage can. And they certainly did that! But meanwhile, the Democratic primary has descended into hyperbole, lies and nonsense — mostly targeted at Hillary Clinton — and driven a harsh wedge between friends. Support for either candidate has now become a kind of moral litmus test: if you support Clinton, you are no true liberal and you don’t care about working people; if you support Sanders, you are a privileged white male and you don’t care about women’s reproductive rights, or the rights of minorities. And while it’s categorically obvious that there are true liberals who support Clinton and there are women and minorities supporting Sanders, these simplistic shibboleths have taken hold: Clinton is “conservative”; Sanders is “progressive.”

I’ve found the growing divide confounding and depressing and remained undecided until recently. I’ve leaned Sanders (after Michigan); I’ve leaned Clinton (early on and after New York). When it became clear Clinton had locked the primary, I thought of splitting my vote: Sanders in the June 7 primary; Clinton in the general. But now, I’m firmly for Clinton and will vote for her on June 7 with conviction.

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Regulars here know that I am not in the habit of recommending articles.  Most of us have loved Hillary so hard and so long that we may be a little blind to sources of criticism.  For different reasons, both of these articles that I happened upon on the same day convey a message that we Still4Hillers do not really need to hear – – – but as we enter the general election season may want to pack in a back pocket as we encounter the #NeverHillary troops.  Traister’s “now I know her” moment and Loeb’s analysis are two gems to bury in the palm of your hand for the mud-slinging that is to come in just a week.  Ready?  We are ready.  Have been for a very long time. Let’s go do this!

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phone calls

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Maybe it is because I am a quarter Irish that I have a soft spot for Niall O’Dowd and  Irish Central,  but more likely it because he, they, and the Irish in general show a soft spot for our girl.  Thus I am leading off with the latest opus by Niall,  no stranger to these pages.

Hillary Clinton nostalgia grips leading Democrats as Obama fails and fades

by Niall O’Dowd

Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 11:59 PM

Hillary Clinton is looking more and more like a lost leader for the Democrats as Obama continues to flail.

There was more bad news for the president yesterday with an opinion poll showing that only 26 per cent of Americans approved of his job on the US economy.

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A reader asked me to address this New York Times treatise by Rebecca Traister.  I really did not have the intention of posting it here because, as I stated in the thread where the suggestion arose, I dislike arguing in the subjunctive.  I prefer demonstrable fact, evidence.  There is no evidence that, had HRC been allowed to contest the nomination fairly on the convention floor, won it, and subsequently won the election, she would have governed as Obama has or even faced the fantasized obstacles Traister imagines for her.  First of all, it is arguable whether we can call what Obama has been doing “governing.”  I will leave that at that.  Secondly, given the performance we have seen from HRC as Secretary of State, why would we imagine that she would have approached the presidency any differently?   She has consistently held a high approval rating as SOS, well above 60%, currently 66%.  Why would that be?

The simple answer is that she is a hard worker.  She happens to be a hard worker with a brilliant mind that not only retains and organizes huge amounts of information in logical and innovative ways  but also generates imaginative ideas  She has revolutionized the State Department and USAID,  and other departments and agencies  with her QDDR,  traveled tirelessly and effectively to reestablish waning friendships and strike up new ones. Experience has taught us that she listens.  She listened to the American people on the campaign trail and made plans to resolve our concerns.  She listens to people the world over and provides responses and programs to address their needs.  She listened to her employees at State and did study the feasibility of granting benefits to domestic partners.  Finding it doable, she did it.  Right away.  She listened to her younger employees who admirably like to bike to work but wanted showers to freshen up before work.  Then she had the showers built.

That last may seem a small thing, but to me it stands as a strong example of who Hillary Clinton is and how she operates.  To suggest that she would have entered the Oval Office and fumbled and flailed (I like Niall’s word) as we have seen Obama do, is patently ridiculous.  Nothing in her performance as First Lady, Senator, or Secretary of State indicates that she would have followed Obama’s priority list or handled various crises the way he has (or has not).  She was more than prepared in 2008 to walk into that Oval Office and take charge.  She is even better prepared now.

So, Rebecca Traister, I beg to disagree.   (I hope my reader is pleased.)

What Would Hillary Clinton Have Done?

Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Published: August 17, 2011

In the worst of the Democratic primary campaign in 2008, the angry end of the thing, when I had become a devoted Hillary Clinton supporter and was engaged in bitter arguments with people with whom I often agreed, I used to harbor a secret fear, the twin of my political hope: I worried that Hillary Clinton would win her party’s nomination.

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UPDATE!  Matthew Dickinson rings in on Traister and the developing subject.

The One Reason Why Hillary Might Be More Effective Than Obama After 2012

Yesterday the New York Times finally jumped into the Hillary for President debate with this piece by Rebecca Traister.  So now I guess it’s a legitimate news story! Citing the Daily Beast article by Leslie Bennetts , which in turns draws heavily on my initial “Run, Hillary, Run” post, Traister – a Clinton supporter in 2008 – tries down to tamp the growing buyer’s remorse she detects among Obama supporters.  She writes: “Rather than reveling in these flights of reverse political fancy, I find myself wanting the revisionist Hillary fantasists — Clintonites and reformed Obamamaniacs alike — to just shut up already.” Traister argues, persuasively in my view, that had Clinton won the presidency in 2008 instead of Obama, there’s no compelling evidence suggesting she would have been any more effective. In this she echoes points made by Jonathan Bernstein in this Salon post. To be sure, Traister admits to her own bouts of buyer’s remorse, but she thinks publicly airing these thoughts is not helpful: “I understand the impulse to indulge in a quick ‘I told you so.’ I would be lying if I said I didn’t think it sometimes. Maybe often. But to say it — much less to bray it — is small, mean, divisive and frankly dishonest. None of us know what would have happened with Hillary Clinton as president, no matter how many rounds of W.W.H.H.D. (What Would Hillary Have Done) we play.”

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I am afraid I do not hold Traister’s view in as much esteem as Dickinson does. His POV is interesting, though. Had not considered the lame duck angle since Obama is already so lame.

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