Last evening Keith Olbermann led his story about Eliot Spitzer by saying, “and this is where i came in,” referring to his start at MSNBC 10 years ago during Bill’s impeachment fiasco. This morning, media coverage about the Spitzer resignation also harkened back to Monica and Bill.
All this is a problem for Hillary because it drags up memories of victimhood, denial and “standing by her man,” hardly credentials for the next commander in chief.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is trapped within a narrative of her own making that keeps pointing attention to Monica and Bill, and nothing makes this more apparent than the facts that have surfaced surrounding the Spitzer resignation.
It’s a male phallocentric power story. It’s a narrative that allows Eliot and Bill to enjoy personal liberties along side their public responsibilities (until they get caught).
The narrative is agentic and egoistic, premised on the notion of getting others to do things for you that they might not otherwise want to do. (hello Monica, and Kristen et al. serving client # 9)
Think also of Silda Spitzer today, and Hillary ten years ago, long suffering wives forced under the klieg lights to stare blindly (and still adoringly) at the spouse as he bears his soul and responsibility for have broken the public and family trust.
Silda and Hillary are victims of the male power model.
So why would Hillary assume the same model of power that forced her own victimization and most humiliating moments?
Perhaps it is the only way to win. But it is not likely to work.
Consider Hillary’s phallocentric test to become commander in chief, which she suggests, Obama cannot pass (is he not masculine enough?).
The Hillary test to be commander in chief consists of having been burnished by foreign policy tests over some executive crisis. Here the commander in chief must have endured the klieg lights– not as a victim or vanquished, but as trimphant victor.
Regrettably, she has no such experience. She didn’t forge a peace deal in Northern Ireland, as she claims to have done, and she didnt help open the doors of Kosovo to Macedonia. Instead, her expose to the bright lights have been in roles as victim or stereotypical cheerleader to her husband’s triumphs.
The male power frame Hillary invokes to strengthen her own credentials rings false in large part because it highlights the fact that much of her time in the White House was as “adoring spouse” and first lady– a gendered role of supplicant, cheer- leader.
Clinton could have burnished her own commander in chief credentials along a different path, which would have required redefining her “commander in chief” model along a different moral frame, one that would have been more closely aligned with her own experience.
She could have framed her experience as first lady, not as a lone, triumphant decisionmaker, but as a caring and empathic leader, who experienced the globe through the privilege of having had a first person’s access to world events. (the eleanor roosevelt model)
Such a frame of caring would provide a forceful alternative to the shock and awe personal and public politics of current leaders. Would also encourage leaders to keep it in their pants.