Hillary Clinton is far from being a doormat for anyone.
“First Bill humiliates her and now Obama does.. Hillary no feminist, more like doormat.” That’s what The Post’s Jennifer Rubin tweeted Monday
Would anyone say that about a male secretary of state? Very likely, no. If a man stood up and took responsibility for a failure in his department, he would be admired as handling the problem with a tough-as-nails manner. They would say a male secretary of state “manned up.”
Instead, conservatives are saying Obama should have manned up and Hillary should have stood down. That’s because conservatives want to make this an issue of gender when it clearly is not.
Take Sherman Frederick, who wrote in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that President Obama was hiding behind Hillary’s skirt. That echoes another tweet by Rubin. David Axelrod, an Obama adviser, tweeted to Rubin: “Sick. Mitt mouthpiece jumps shark.” Rubin replied: “so is Obama going to hide behind her skirt Tuesday night? Why would the president let Hillary end her career in disgrace?”
Then Rush Limbaugh opened his mouth Tuesday. He mimicked Rubin’s sentiments, saying, “The woman is a doormat, not a feminist leader. It’s the most amazing thing.” Of course, Limbaugh had to revisit Bill Clinton’s past sexual indiscretions against Hillary.
This shouldn’t be a psychosexual drama about how Hillary is strong and covered for Obama in an election year and Obama is a weakling who won’t take responsibility. It’s far from that.
Realistically, the federal government is massive. Obama is obviously not overseeing the daily details in every department like state or micromanaging every embassy and diplomatic post on the planet. That’s why he appoints strong, intelligent people like Hillary.
Hillary said in the CNN interview Monday that she oversees the State Department, where information is often fluid. Within that department are security and intelligence officials who make decisions like whether a post in Libya needs more security.
Let’s be honest, though, Hillary can’t catch a break. When she was running against Obama for president, she was seen as an opportunist. Even her long-time admirer, the late writer Nora Ephron, said that many people thought back then that Hillary “will do anything to win, who believe she doesn’t really take a position unless it’s completely safe …”
Now that Hillary has taken an unsafe position on Libya, she is labeled an Obama administration scapegoat. The end to feminism does not arrive just because women now have power. It arrives when women are treated the same as men in the same position.
As one supporter in a forum dedicated to all things Hillary wrote: “She did not fall on her sword. She picked it up and lifted it over her head. She is going to get to the bottom of this. She has said so. It may appear to some that she has fallen on her sword, but that’s only because we see so rarely (except in her case) what she is exhibiting: real leadership.”
In 2007, Lakshmi Chaudhry wrote a story in The Nation quoting Republican strategist Frank Luntz, who said: “Put gender aside. Just treat her like you would any other candidate.” Perhaps we should take his words to heart now and treat her like any other secretary of state.
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.