The most flawed female president ever

August 8, 2016 Originally published on SFGate

If there’s one thing lefty Hillary haters love the most, it’s lists.

Lists of all her perceived failures, of her obvious corruption, her warmongering, her lies, of this or that banking scandal or support for questionable legislation, or even more spurious proof that, despite unquestionable, full-throated support for Planned Parenthood and innumerable pro-women issues over the years, she’s no “real” feminist, all due to some perceived slight, attack or negative messaging at one point, years ago, about something that might have happened, or not, according to someone else.

Here’s the amazing thing: Hillary’s camp rarely responds. Not anymore. Save for deflecting all the fantastically flaccid Republicans on all the various anti-Hillary Benghazi committees, she rarely seems to expend any energy attempting to refute all the claims against her, true or not.

Maybe she knows it’s futile. Maybe she knows that, no matter what she says, now matter how much evidence to the contrary she procures, no matter if some of the allegations against her true or are total right-wing hate-mongering, or just misunderstood, or simply no worse or better than any of her male peers on either side of the aisle (including Obama), she knows that attempting to correct the record only inflames her detractors more, gives them reason to accuse her of covering up “the truth,” such as it is, or isn’t.

Added to the mix is the well-established fact that Hillary does not do bombast, or clever retort. She does not rant or inveigh; she is, as Rebecca Traister’s (herself a former Hillary hater) terrific New York mag profile noted, Clinton is “uneasy with the press and ungainly on the stump.” She cannot compete with Obama, her own husband, or even the Orange-Faced Sociopath on her far right in presenting a particular point with either confident, calm detail, expert storytelling cadence, or nonsensical racist bullying. This is not her forte.

What is her forte? Just ask anyone who knows her: Personal connection. Networking. Identifying the problem, and then making a plan to fix it. And then fixing it. Follow-through. Getting things done. Genuine warmth, humor and formidable intelligence. Doing what Traister called “the real work of politics,” making her way through a thousand issues and causes at once, in the grit and meat of it, every single day, usually without fanfare, without melodramatic newsworthiness, without much by way of acknowledgement by the Left, or the media, or anyone else. It’s what all insiders say is her single-most distinctive characteristic: her ability to listen, and take action. And it illuminates the vicious disconnect between endlessly mangled public perception everyone is addicted to, and the hugely impressive one-on-one reality that too few seem to understand.

It’s a strange thing, really. In the absence of relentless charisma, masterful speechmaking, or endless boasting of achievements, no one in the media seems to know how to characterize her, except in terms of long-established negatives. “Who is Hillary, really?” is the question most often being asked, more than ever, all these years later.

Where she excels isn't exactly headline-making: personal connection, tied directly to fixing any problem she encounters

Where she excels isn’t exactly headline-making: personal connection, tied directly to fixing any problem she encounters

As Ezra Klein’s fascinating piece at Vox pointed out: We are not used to this. Hillary’s methods are not so easily tracked, or attacked. After all, this is not the way men do it. The entire American political infrastructure was designed from Day One for the masculine mode of boast, dominance, force, threat, steamroll, attack and conquer and boast some more.

It is most certainly not Hillary’s (more feminine) strengths of listening deeply, offering real empathy, building coalitions, making connections, remembering everything and everyone and then, over and over again, taking action. Getting it done. Workhorse. Workaholic. Policy wonk. Determined and stoic and sort of boring, as she does more for the progressive cause than her haters will ever allow, because OMG look at her (loud, GOP-inflamed, easily to find and even easier to parrot) faults. Look at her Iraq vote! Look at her lying about email! And so on!

There is something about Clinton that makes it hard to appreciate the magnitude of her achievement. Or perhaps there is something about us that makes it hard to appreciate the magnitude of her achievement.

Perhaps, in ways we still do not fully appreciate, the reason no one has ever broken the glass ceiling in American politics is because it’s really f–king hard to break. Before Clinton, no one even came close.

Whether you like Clinton or hate her — and plenty of Americans hate her — it’s time to admit that the reason Clinton was the one to break it is because Clinton is actually really good at politics.

She’s just good at politics in a way we haven’t learned to appreciate.

It all leads to the one thing lefty Hillary haters detest the most.

It’s lists. The other kind. Lists of all her accomplishments, titles, roles, achievements, causes, honorifics, thank-you’s, the myriad and countless people she’s helped, one by one, group by group, cause by cause, over a lifetime in politics, too many to count and whose personal stories are no match for the seething mountain of well-wrung antagonism.

Let’s be clear: Hillary’s record is certainly far from saintly, and her past (and present) have some terrible dark spots, but what politician’s wouldn’t, after 30 years in the blazing spotlight, most of it also in the savage crosshairs of the viciously sexist GOP? Do not misunderstand: her mistakes and corrupt bedfellows are legendary, and deserving of scrutiny. But how much of that scrutiny (and concomitant hate) is because she has the nerve to be Hillary Clinton? Can you even parse?

Despite it all, the record shows she remains a tireless crusader for largely progressive causes and policies – and, if Obama’s own record has shown us anything via his own bizarre choices (support for offshore oil drilling and fracking, brokering more weapons deals than any presidency, et al), it’s that there is no such thing as the perfect candidate, nor is there ever any way to appease those who trash a politician based on a handful of pet issues, or the fact that she’s not Bernie, or they hate her voice, her gender, her hair, her abrasive speaking style, her husband or her rather stunning refusal to be crushed by the white male establishment that simply cannot understand how she’s still standing.

Here, then, is the best gist we can cull. She will make a remarkably effective, historic president, but will do so in a way we are unused to – sans bombast, oratory, glamour, outsized persona, endless extolling of her own virtues to a press and populace trained to mistrust and eviscerate her anyway.

She will get more done and move the needle more effectively in the overall progressive direction than perhaps even Obama was able to manage, but will seek no thanks, no broad-stroke understanding, no notion that lefties will stop hating her because of it, because that’s not her wiring and that’s not what she’s in the game for anyway.

She knows there are no thanks coming. She knows the haters will hate no matter what, because it’s drilled into them, into the culture, into her image. And of course, some of it is deserved, and will continue to be so. And much is not at all deserved, and will never be. Same as it ever was in public life? Sure. Only much more so, because she’s a woman. And a Clinton.

Thing is, devoted Hillary haters have easy and instant access to all the reasons they despise her. Clinton’s flaws, mistakes, backroom dealings and physical shortcomings have been screamed from the rooftops for 30 years, have been drilled into her detractors like a mantra, to the point they never question their snarling ideology, whereas they freely ignore, reject, deny, minimize or are simply bored by all the far less glamorous policies, positions and wild successes she’s had, and continues to have, in their favor, to the point they will never dare change their minds, or even soften their glare. What a thing.

Hating Hillary is as obvious as it is mindlessly hip – but it’s also intellectually lazy. Realizing she’s a tremendously successful, flawed champion for progressive causes, a true workhorse for nearly all that lefties claim to care most about, and that she might, just might, go down in the “triumphant” column of history for far more than her gender, is searingly difficult, and requires going against one’s cultural indoctrination.

And the strange thing is, as far as the candidate herself is concerned, that’s perfectly OK. She’s used to it. She’ll do the work anyway. But that doesn’t make it any less of a shame.

Read more here:: The most flawed female president ever

Mark Morford

About Mark Morford