August 4, 2016

Why does everyone hate Hillary Clinton? I have an answer for that.

When Bill Clinton left office, I was mildly respectful of her and how she held her head high during the whole nonsense with the impeachment.

Then she faded into memory and I didn't think much of or about her until she ran for the Democratic nomination against Barack Obama.

Boy, oh boy, did the hate factor triple. I loathed her, and I used all of the tropes media consistently uses to justify it. Instead of bothering to actually look at her record, I just bought into all the claims that she was just. like. Bill. Triangulator, conservative in wolf's clothing, and more. Because she was standing in the way of MY CANDIDATE, in whom I placed all of my hopes.

I didn't want more of the 90s thrum of constant smears, which I viewed as being her fault entirely. I didn't want to have to defend them. Never mind the decades-long right wing vendetta. I did not want to deal with it.

In my mind, she was a sellout to the Democratic Party, her vote for Iraq was unforgivable, and she was indeed "Lady Macbeth" with claws and gnarled fingers. I did come to understand why she voted for the Iraq war before she ran for office this time, based on my interaction with people from New York who genuinely, sincerely believed Saddam Hussein was connected to the 9-11 attacks. She was, after all, elected to represent them.

Still, I never gave any weight to her efforts on behalf of the 9-11 first responders, or children with asthma, or lead abatement efforts, or the environment, or anything that actually helped people.

And then, she was Secretary of State. That happens to be a position that is near and dear to my heart, given my own family member who served as a diplomat for nearly 30 years. It meant a lot to me, and I started to keep an eye on her much more closely. She really did a stellar job on the repair and care of our relationships with other countries. Instead of being globally loathed, the United States was garnering respect again. That counted for something, but still not that much.

Those pesky emails...

When the State Department started releasing emails last year, I headed right on over there to dig up some dirt on her. That's what I do. I'm a document geek, and I fully expected to find all kinds of smoking guns in those emails.

There were none. So I downloaded the Judicial Watch email packages they released in connection with their many FOIA requests of the State Department.

Still nothing. Seriously, literally nothing.

What was in them?

Here's what I found instead. I found a Secretary of State who was universally respected by her staff, had a deep grasp of issues, understood how to move forward on them, and in many cases pushed the Administration to the left, not the right.

I found a Secretary of State who made a point out of making sure little kids in other countries had a way to get to school. In the larger scheme of things, that wasn't top on her to-do list, but she made it a priority and got it done. While she was paying attention to those kinds of smaller cares, she was also giving speeches, traveling, developing internal procedures, staffing the State Department, trying to negotiate a peace between Israel and Hamas, and working to delineate and define American policies in other countries.

That was just before breakfast. She is as tireless as President Obama has been. When the Affordable Care Act was moving through Congress, she was a champion of the public option. Please read that again. She was a champion of the public option. In 2009-2010. She paid close attention to the bill's progress and kept track of the Democrats who stood in the way of its passage compared to those who pushed it through.

It is impossible for anyone who is intellectually honest to read those email packets and still conclude that Hillary Clinton deserves the hate and the frame she is awarded by our media. After reading 8-10,000 of them, my impression was that she has been been a damn good public servant.

The only conclusion I could come to is that I was wrong, and had been badly influenced by media tropes about Hillary Clinton's character, her politics, and media's sexism.

Yes, sexism

Make no mistake. Much of the negativity swirling around Hillary Clinton today is deeply rooted in long-standing sexist press themes rather than reality. Republicans are as horrified at the prospect of a woman becoming President as they were about a Black guy being President.

When you hear questions framed like the ones in the video above, or you hear media allowing the frame that she is a "horribly flawed candidate," allow yourself the space to consider that it is their perception only. It's something they've invested in for 40 years now, and they're unlikely to let it go anytime soon.

I recommend that everyone read the emails too, or at least a chunk of them. When you do, you'll discover what I did: Hillary Clinton is no monster. She's a wonky, caring public servant who has a firm grasp on reality and policy.

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