Commentary Magazine


They Figured It Out. So Why Didn’t He?

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have discovered the resentment toward Barack Obama and the media brewing among Hillary Clinton’s female supporters. The New York Times reporters seem to own up that their brethren in the mainstream media may have played a role in the Clinton dissing, declaring:

Mrs. Clinton’s supporters point to a nagging series of slights: the fixation on her clothes, even her cleavage; chronic criticism that her voice is shrill; calls for her to exit the race; and most of all, the male commentators in the news media who, they argue, were consistently tougher on her than on Mr. Obama. Some even accuse Mr. Obama of chauvinism, pointing to the time he called Mrs. Clinton “likeable enough” as evidence of dismissiveness. Nancy Wait, 55, a social worker in Columbia City, Ind., said Mr. Obama was far less qualified than Mrs. Clinton and described as condescending his recent assurances that Mrs. Clinton should stay in the race as long as she liked. Ms. Wait said she would “absolutely, positively not” vote for him come fall.

Meanwhile, the Post picks up on the generational element:

To Veronica Tonay, 48, a psychology professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Clinton supporter, Obama has become a pop star, the contestant on “American Idol” who wins votes because he’s cute, while the best singer is eliminated. “We are electing the leader of the free world, and that person has a finger on the nuclear launch code,” she said. “It’s not about likability.” Her stance was cemented when a young woman in one of her classes declared that she wouldn’t vote for Clinton because “she is not a beautiful woman.”

So what’s missing in all this? Perhaps a wee bit of analysis might be in order. How can a post-partisan, high-minded 21st century fellow like the Agent of Change participate in, even passively, in the conduct which brought this all about. As Abe has observed in other contexts, Obama is often delinquent in recognizing issues and has shown an unwillingness to take charge, guide the dialogue, and set an example. On an issue of personal dignity and equality, you’d think that he, of all people, would have been more on top of things.