The Tracy Flicking of Hillary Clinton

The issue has been pretty well-covered by now, but like M. LeBlanc at Bitch Ph.D. and Kate Harding at Shakesville I just wanted to add to the list of those bloggers who have expressed frustration about the fact that Hillary Clinton is being faulted for being–gasp!–too ambitious because she wants to be president. This is especially insidious when an editorial writer such as Meghan Daum attributes those sentiments to “ordinary people,” rather than to her own prejudices. In fact, despite Daum’s claim that average Joes and Janes think that Hillary “just wants this too badly,” working-class voters and women have supported her campaign rather enthusiastically. I guess those other candidates are raising hundreds of millions of dollars on a complete whim.

This depiction of Clinton as too ambitious comes across most annoyingly in this Slate video, which equates Clinton with Tracy Flick, the overly controlling candidate for high school student body president in Election played by Reese Witherspoon. While I found Election to be a great send-up of presidential politics and high school, the suggestion that Clinton is trying too to be liked is more than a little irritating, especially given that Tracy is viewed through the lens of the film in a somewhat unsympathetic light, as the object of satire. If the video is trying to parody the complaints that Hillary is too ambitious, as this Onion column does, then I don’t quite see it.

Update: Media Matters has another variation of this premise where Tim Russert is shocked to see that a “self-avowed feminist” might show emotion and that it might be “ironic” that other women would connect with Hillary’s emotions. Gotta love our media discourse right now.

Update 2: Edited to fix my annoying habit of overusing “seems to” when I’m feeling cautious about a specific claim.

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