Politics

It’s Who You Know

November 02, 2016

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It’s Who You Know

Will the FBI find any interesting emails from Hillary Clinton in the trove on the laptop of former congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Hillary’s gofer-in-chief Huma Abedin?

I don’t know. Hillary has survived in the national spotlight for a quarter of a century by boring her skeptics into apathy, and she may pull this off once again.

Nor am I going to predict how next week’s election will turn out. There are so many things in this world that few pay attention to that there doesn’t seem to be much reason to invest intense effort in trying to forecast what everybody else is trying to predict.

Especially when we’ll find out next week.

But I am fascinated by how much Hillary’s run for office is bringing out the petty side in elites by showing how much they take everything personally.

For example, Time magazine on Monday featured a noteworthy op-ed:

Hillary Clinton’s Emailgate Is an Attack on Women

Robin Lakoff 12:27 PM ET

(Robin Lakoff is a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of ‘Language and Woman’s Place’)

I am mad. I am mad because I am scared. And if you are a woman, you should be, too. Emailgate is a bitch hunt, but the target is not Hillary Clinton. It’s us.

Personally, I had assumed that the Democrat-supporting Berkeley linguistics professor named Lakoff was a man.

“One striking aspect of the Hillary scandals is our society’s failure to think about the ethical challenges posed by the phenomenon of the power couple.”

But the author of the 2004 best-seller Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate—The Essential Guide for Progressives turns out to have been George Lakoff, the ex-husband of Robin Lakoff. (My mistake no doubt just proves various theories jointly and separately held by the Lakoffs about the deplorability of guys like me.)

The only reason the whole email flap has legs is because the candidate is female. Can you imagine this happening to a man? Clinton is guilty of SWF (Speaking While Female), and emailgate is just a reminder to us all that she has no business doing what she’s doing…. If the candidate were male, there would be no scolding and no “scandal.” Those very ideas would be absurd. Men have a nearly absolute right to freedom of speech…. It’s not about emails; it’s about public communication by a woman in general.

Isn’t that backwards, though? Hillary is perfectly free to engage in public communication (although Americans don’t seem to show up at her rallies in large numbers when she deigns to do so). What she’s been trying to keep secret, on the other hand, is her self-interested private communication when handed the public trust.

But abstract principles such as conflict of interest are increasingly out-of-date, especially when applied to two-career couples.

Professor Lakoff takes criticism of the Democratic candidate quite personally (although she projects her feelings onto her opponents):

But here’s Hillary Rodham Clinton, the very public stand-in for all bossy, uppity and ambitious women. Here are her emails. And since it’s a woman, doing what decent women should never do—engaging in high-level public communication—well, there must be something wrong with that, even if we can’t quite find that something. We will invoke the terminology of criminal law to account for our feelings.

Isn’t emailgate, however, less about Hillary courageously Speaking While Female than about her deleting emails that ought to be part of the public record?

There is an old tradition that, for the sake of institutional continuity, the secretary of state is supposed to maintain an archive of what has been said on the nation’s business. But Hillary went out of her way to evade that by having her own private email server and then deleting 33,000 messages, claiming that those messages were just about private girly stuff:

We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work-related emails and deliver them to the State Department. At the end, I chose not to keep my private, personal emails—emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends, as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.

Professor Lakoff triumphantly concludes:

Imagine the emails the Trump campaign must be exchanging … Now those would be legitimately interesting!

My guess, however, is that Donald Trump, like many 70-year-old male executives, rarely types on a full keyboard because he’s always had a female secretary to take dictation or transcribe his scrawl and prefers to browbeat colleagues over the phone. Of course, pointing this out would hardly placate Ms. Lakoff.

One striking aspect of the Hillary scandals is our society’s failure to think about the ethical challenges posed by the phenomenon of the power couple.

For example, Hillary’s entitlement to the presidency, is, rather like Schrödinger’s cat that is both dead and alive, simultaneously a triumph for feminism over heteropatriarchy and a continuation via loophole of the term-limited Bill Clinton administration. Comedienne Elizabeth Woolf noted:

I am really happy that Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidency. This will send a powerful message to every young girl in this country that you could potentially reach any level or attain any position in this country…provided your husband does it first.

But Hill and Bill aren’t the only power couple in this ongoing story. Huma and Anthony are another. Oddly enough, Hillary thrust the Saudi-raised Abedin upon the Zionist Weiner against her inclination.

Back in the 20th century, these two major sources of political cash could be hoped to check each other, but in the 21st century, that’s outmoded. Thus, Bill eventually officiated at their ill-fated wedding.

ABC reported in 2013 when Weiner’s tawdriness first became news:

Abedin also says she relied on her boss, Hillary Clinton, a woman familiar with both political and personal scandal in the public eye, for advice, and had the Clinton family’s support in her decision to stay in her marriage.

Hey, the Tammy Wynette “Stand by Your Man” routine worked for Hillary. That’s why she’s able to run for president today. Why shouldn’t it also work for the Michigan Muslim (who, by the way, is eligible for the White House)?

Except that it didn’t work, which seems to happen a lot when Hillary advises.


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