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Dec 04, 2007

Framing Of The Shrew


With Iowa polls showing Clinton leveling off and with the race growing more contentious, a sudden cluster of "Angry Hillary" stories have emerged.  (Here's the latest from TIME.)

Whatever you think of Hillary, I think it's profoundly shallow, dangerous, and also sexist for media to play "the Dean card" and pathologize a candidate just for turning up the heat.

When I saw this image by itself on the wire the other day, I thought it was almost too easy to play with.  Then, this morning, I saw it illustrating the NYT's "Angry Hillary" contribution ("Clinton Aims for Anger Without Making People Mad").

In this instance, the choice of the pic was ingenious, if even more toxic, given the thrust of the article, which is that Hillary puts on a pleasant face, but if you read her words (i.e.: what's "behind the curtain"), she is duplicitously venomous.

...I think this thesis is pretty ridiculous.  I don't think Hillary has been any more or less duplicitous this past week or so.  She's just doing what any politician in a like situation would be doing.  Without losing composure, she's fighting.

(image: Carlos Barria/Reuters. Iowa. December, 2007.  via


I think this thesis is pretty ridiculous. I don't think Hillary has been any more or less duplicitous this past week or so.

So the problem is, what if one thinks Hillary has been to some degree duplicitous the entire time? Does one express relief that the media is finally starting to notice? Or does one feel dismay that the media is treating this like some kind of development, a discovery, something about this campaign that's only developed in the last week?

Should it be any less disconcerting to see the media trying to manufacture a perception of [X], just because one considered [X] to have been true anyway?


One of the dumb things about this campaign is that neither of the frontrunners-- Obama or Clinton-- have really been campaigning. Both have played so conservatively (by which I mean conservative strategy, not conservative ideology... I think) that they've barely been doing anything at all. They're just coasting, maintaining the status quo in hopes that maintaining their momentum is better than disturbing it. The messages of these campaigns seem to be "Hi, I am running for President". Maybe, given that nobody seems to really care about the primaries until the month before they start, this is the appropriate strategy for the early months. I don't know.

But it is kind of weird now that the status quo has finally somehow been disturbed-- by Obama's Iowa surge, I assume-- that the campaign has been so shaken up by virtually nothing. After months of stasis suddenly the campaigns are in motion and stuff seems to be happening for the first time all year. But what the heck is happening? It seems like even now that there's motion in the status quo, the campaigns are stuck on the idea that motion in the status quo is a bad thing. This has lead to a weird kind of reverse-campaigning, with the Obama and Clinton camps each accusing the other of campaigning too hard-- Clinton complains for a week about Obama being too negative, then Obama complains for a week about Clinton being too negative. Somehow we've concluded this process with Obama seeming to be on the offensive and Clinton seeming to be on the defensive, but darned if I can figure out what exactly got us to that point.

The problem here is that the amount of attention paid to "omg, they said something negative!" has somehow wound up dwarfing whatever negative thing it was that was originally said. (What WERE the negative things Clinton said about Obama? Heck, I don't even know, all the press will tell me is that she said them.) "You're negative!" seems to be becoming just another form of negative campaigning, only even more empty. I wish we had fewer "meta" articles about, say, how Clinton and Obama are fighting with each other about health care plans, and more articles about what it is Clinton and Obama actually think about healthcare...

My goodness. That might be the most manipulative image I've ever seen. Bitch. Shrew. Manipulator. What plots brew in that scheming mind? This of course plays into every stereotype about "powerful women".

Note that this isn't published by FoxNews, but by the "liberal" NY Times. This is the organization that helped elect Bush by their relentless framing of Gore as 'ozone man" the "egomaniac that thinks he invented the internet".

Who will the NY Times elect this time? Pastor Huckabee? Double Gitmo Mitt? Rules are for Fools Rudy?

She's just doing what any politician in a like situation would be doing. Without losing composure, she's fighting.

Exactly. And how dare she. First of all to have the nerve to run for president, and then to behave like a candidate who plans to win the election.

Some people just can't get used to the idea of a woman exercising power.

I think this "strategy" or whatever it is by the media to portray Clinton negatively may backfire. I have not been a Clinton supporter, but am feeling like it's time to stick up for her, circle the wagons -- and perhaps vote for her.

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