The Sunday Edition

Michael's essay - Hillary Clinton lost because she's a woman

“She was tough, articulate, sympathetic, compassionate, fearfully focused. In the early going I almost, but not quite, felt sorry for Trump who was so outgunned on every front.”
Hillary Clinton speaks to an audience in Toronto promoting her new book "What Happened" on Thursday, September 28, 2017. (Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press)
Listen4:25

A singular anniversary went pretty much unnoticed in the United States eight days ago. On Sept. 23, 1838, a woman named Victoria Claflin Woodhull was born in Homer, Ohio. She is important because she was the first woman to run for president of the United States. She did that in 1872. Her campaign was financed in part by the wealthy industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt.

The anniversary occurred just 11 days after a book by Hillary Rodham Clinton, another woman who ran for the presidency, was released into the world.

It is called What Happened. It is the story of her 2016 election campaign against Donald Trump.

Though she won three million more popular votes than Trump, she was beaten in the weirdly anachronistic Electoral College.

I haven't read the book; I'm not much on political memoirs, which tend to be overly self-serving. She was on the book trail this week in Canada. But I remain intrigued by the nagging holdover question from the campaign: why do so many people hate Hillary Clinton?

The release of her book has re-stoked the Hate Hillary fires. And I can't understand why.

On view during the 2016 campaign was one of the sharpest minds in recent US political history. She was tough, articulate, sympathetic, compassionate, fearfully focussed. In the early going I almost, but not quite, felt sorry for Donald Trump who was so outgunned on every front.

American media have, for some reason, long waged anti-Hillary ambushes.

Maureen Dowd, the op-ed columnist for The New York Times, has been sniping at Clinton for years. She has called her "shifty", "a dominatrix" and said of her 2016 campaign: "In 2005 she ran as a man, now she's running as a woman."

Clinton has been called untrustworthy, but the fact of the matter is that she is one of the most openly honest politicians in the country. Last year the media made a huge deal over the e-mail non-scandal — her use of a private server, something done by several of her predecessors, notably General Colin Powell. And as we now know, several Trump staff have done the same thing.

A post-election Harvard media study showed that the e-mail scandal accounted for 16 per cent of her campaign coverage, or four times the attention paid to Trump and his treatment of women, and 16 times the amount of coverage of her actual policies.
A delegate holds anti-Hillary sign on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

As Larry Womack pointed out in The Huffington Post, nobody paid much attention when the Bush administration erased millions of e-mails relating to the firing of U.S. Attorneys. At no point was the security of the U.S. jeopardized by her. It was a non-story.

Of the nine presidential nominating conventions I've covered going back to 1968, the GOP convention in Cleveland stands out. The hate for Clinton in the arena was almost palpable, orchestrated and led by Donald Trump himself. 

Many in the audience were the favoured knuckle-draggers of his base, but many were ordinary, upper-middle-class Americans. The chants of "Trump the Bitch" and "Lock her up" were to my memory unprecedented in modern American political history.

No, Hillary Clinton didn't lose the election because of phony scandals. She lost the election for one reason and one reason only. She lost because she is a woman. She lost because she is a smart, tough, successful career politician who dared to run against a man.

I worry that because of the way Clinton was treated, it will be a very long time before another woman of talent dares to run.

Click 'listen' above to hear Michael's essay. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.