If you’ve been playing the game “Where in the World is Hillary Clinton?” you need to get a life.
That observation notwithstanding, Clinton is currently in the Land Down Under (no, not that land down under, not for now anyway), and on Thursday, ABC Australia reports, she joined former Aussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard before a packed auditorium to talk about a subject near and dear to her to her heart: why she lost the 2016 election.
Wearing one of her new extra-extra-large scarves to conceal what many in the media commented looked like a back brace, Clinton expounded on what she called America’s “first reality TV election,” revealing how “in the days after Donald Trump stormed into the oval office,” she drank Australian chardonnay” (always the diplomat), “practiced alternate nostril-breathing and read mystery novels because ‘the bad guy usually gets it in the end.'”
So what was her explanation this time for why she lost? It was a combination of factors, including Americans feeling threatened by women “in positions of leadership” and, secondarily, her looks:
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There is still a very large proportion of the population that is uneasy with women in positions of leadership, and so the easiest way to kind of avoid having to look at someone on her merits is to dismiss her on her looks.
There is this fear, there is this anger, even rage about women seeking power, women exercising power and people fall back on these attacks like you’re a witch or you should go to prison. It’s not a majority, thank goodness it’s not, but it’s a very vocal minority at least in my country. And sometimes these tropes are very much part of the press coverage.
The claim about Americans fearing women in positions of power is easily debunked. We have had three female secretaries of state (Clinton herself one of them), three female Supreme Court justices, four female governors, and dozens of female senators (again, including her), all elected or selected in recent decades. It is a trend that is obviously here to stay, and it is not at all inconceivable that we will have a woman president in the coming years.
But what about that “vocal minority” who she claims took her to task over her looks? Well, according to an article that ran in the Associated Press in May 2012, Clinton was criticized for her appearance.
Her hair, a perennial topic, and makeup, or lack thereof, have been in the news since the website Drudge Report posted a photo Monday of the secretary of State wearing glasses and no cosmetics other than lipstick during a trip to India. The faulty-French headline: “Hillary au Naturale.” A story in the April issue of Elle magazine quoted Clinton’s aides bemoaning her recent habit of pulling her hair back in a casual ponytail with a scrunchie, a fabric-covered hair elastic.
Asked about the attention in an interview on CNN, Clinton said she is beyond worrying about reaction to her appearance. “If I want to wear my glasses, I’m wearing my glasses. If I want to wear my hair back I’m pulling my hair back. You know at some point it’s just not something that deserves a lot of time and attention.”
But this was during her tenure as secretary of state, not during her 2016 presidential campaign. In addition, the vocal minority who was obsessed with Clinton’s appearance was not comprised by “deplorables.” It was the media themselves:
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake says evaluation of women on their looks is driven by news media, not voters. “What is just absolutely amazing is how pervasive this is and how true it is even for women reporters and the degree to which even if women try to develop just a uniform for the job we can’t seem to get off this topic,” she says. In focus groups, “I haven’t heard anyone mention her hair or her makeup for probably a decade. It’s not the voters driving this at all. They could care less. It is reporters. It is both male and female reporters.” [Emphasis added]
In any case, Clinton’s loss in 2016 had less to do with attitudes toward women than it did with attitudes toward her as a person and a prospective leader. As S.E. Cupp writes at Twitter:
Nope. We felt uneasy with YOU seeking power. https://t.co/mbcYixpohH
— S.E. Cupp (@secupp) May 12, 2018
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) May 12, 2018