John Bauld / Flickr george clooney...
John Bauld / Flickr

Actor/activist George Clooney was asked if sexism is what really defeated Hillary Clinton. Daily Beast:

I think it was. Here’s what I see from Hillary. Hillary, for years and years and years, has been the presumptive nominee, and quite honestly, she was incredibly qualified for the job. But being qualified for the job does not necessarily mean you’re the right person to be president. Here’s what I mean. She was more qualified than even her husband was when he was elected president, but she’s not as good at communicating things. That’s simply true. When she got up and gave a speech, it didn’t soar. Now, that doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t have done a great job as president, and I supported her because by the time we did the fundraiser the primary was over at that point and it was time to get on with picking someone to move forward, and she was the right person to side with.

It was frustrating because I never saw her elevate her game. I never saw it. And I had a lot of liberal friends who were like, “She’s not good at this.” And I see that, and I understand it. I also think, though, that if it was a guy it wouldn’t have been so polarizing. I think the fact that she’s a woman made it a much harder uphill battle. They’ve had the “Arkansas Project” where for twenty-five years the Clintons have been accused of murdering Vince Foster and accused of tons of stuff, so I thought it was a raw deal. I think that she wasn’t particularly good at articulating the things that she wanted to do, and unfortunately we live at a time right now where articulating what you want to do is more potent in the electorate than the other way around, obviously, when Trump only said he was going to “Make America Great Again.” Don’t you think the next Democrat who runs should just run with a blue hat that says, “Make America Great Again?”

Clooney says, “if it was a guy it wouldn’t have been so polarizing.” That’s as good as any a place to start yet another re-hash of the never ending saga of What Happened, as her book is entitled, and it’s probably called that because certainly that was every thinking person’s first reaction election night.

There is no question that to a large degree sexism is institutionalized at a basic cultural level. If you look at popular culture, which is always reflective of cultural values in controversy at the time, you’ll see that starting back in the ‘80’s an effort was made to portray more interesting female characters beyond nurses, teachers and girlfriends.  A lot of these attempts were cartoonish and one dimensional. For example, in “Robo Cop”which is not an iconic film but it was a typical popular one in the way it attempted albeit clumsily to pursue a feminist course, the female scientist was totally beautiful, totally brilliant, in short totally perfect in every way — and therefore totally dull. Characters that are truly memorable characters, male and female, have their strengths and their weaknesses, as real people do,

Hillary Clinton is someone with considerable strengths to bring to the table and considerable weaknesses as well — at least considerable enough to cost her the election. Yes, as Clooney points out she was incredibly qualified. Nobody disputes that. But as he also points out, she was not a good communicator and she is not an orator. It doesn’t come to her naturally.

Or, perhaps it was a trick of the camera, and that is not said facetiously.  Former talk show host Dick Cavett said, “The camera always lies. It’s just a question of whether it lies for you or against you.” He’s absolutely right, as anyone who has ever worked in television will tell you. The camera likes you or it does not, it enhances you or it diminishes you. The camera is not Hillary Clinton’s friend. It lies against her. It makes her look false. That is why the slightest bit of mud that was ever slung her direction stuck. She didn’t have the teflonesque qualities of many of her male colleagues and certainly of Donald Trump. And she did have a lot of baggage, as Clooney points out. Baggage plus lack of charisma will sink any candidate, regardless of how stunningly qualifed — as she undisputably is.

Now again, as Clooney points out, she was fighting an uphill battle and on terra incognita because this was the first time in our history that a woman ran against a man. The next time, whenever that is, may be easier. That is devoutly to be wished. But the elephant in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge is that Hillary may have been a flawed candidate, at least in her persuasive skills. That is heresy to many of her followers, who simply will not have their paragon’s perfection questioned.

In all events, there is no one reason and no simple answer for Why Hillary Lost. What is sad is that we had two polarized candidates. Donald Trump was the better campaigner; but he can’t govern his way out of a paper bag. Hillary would be an exceptionally competent president, but she didn’t have the requisite campaigning skills to get there. All in all, a recipe for an American tragedy. Which is just what we have.

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