Let's stipulate right off the bat that there were some unacceptably nasty comments, images and videos used to denigrate Hillary Clinton because she was a female candidate for president or just because she was a woman, period. But was sexism the reason for her failed campaign?
Hardly. None of the many fatal errors made by her campaign had anything to do with her treatment, sexist or otherwise, by the media or Barack Obama and his campaign. Neither the media nor Obama was responsible for the Clinton campaign’s use of a high-overhead, direct mail and $2,300-large-donor fundraising model that made chairman Terry McAuliffe the greatest fundraiser in either party’s history but now seems outmoded; for the decision to appoint and then stick too long with Patti Solis Doyle as campaign manager; for the decision to make Mark Penn both chief strategist and lead pollster; for the campaign’s false confidence that her nomination was inevitable and thus the whole race would be over by Super Tuesday, thereby leaving them flatfooted the rest of February as Obama reeled off victory after victory; for never having a clear, coherent message other than an “in it to win it” declaration that confirmed Clinton’s detractors’ (false) claims that she is all about personal ambition. See this piece by ABC’s Rick Klein for a good distillation of the damage these decisions caused.
But if you want evidence of sexism--maybe chauvinism is the better word for it--notice, as Scott pointed out yesterday, that Penn isn’t accepting any blame for the campaign’s failure; in fact, he’s shifting it. Maybe he and other male advisers have offered apologies I missed, but so far as I can tell Penn, McAuliffe nor Harold Ickes have all avoided assuming any blame either for their strategic decisions or advice. And, though I hear it was often Bill Clinton’s internal advice to the campaign that proved to be, shall we say, less than useful, is anyone holding her breath waiting for a mea culpa from him? Also, is there going to be and Hillary-and-Bill finger-pointing session akin to the one Bill and Al Gore had in January 2001?
The only top Clinton adviser who has taken a share of the blame is a woman: Patti Solis Doyle. More than a few women have pointed out to me that men are quick to shift blame, women quick to assume it. Did we really need a woman run for president to make this maxim plain to the entire country?