The least she could have done after yesterday’s Times bombshell was apologize for not punishing Burns Strider more aggressively in 2008. Or, if she couldn’t muster that, at least maintain an embarrassed, undignified, yet still-more-dignified-than-this silence.
But she’s a terrible person, and this is how terrible people react.
What the hell is this?
I called her today to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should: we deserve to be heard.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 27, 2018
That’s a Clinton classic, combining condescension with clumsy political calculation — practically her trademark. The Strider story does real damage to her image as a feminist icon even though her refusal to fire him was predictable given her past. Between Bill, Harvey Weinstein, and now Strider, Hillary’s never had a problem tolerating accused predators who can help her politically. Strider’s the only one of those three, though, over whom she had direct authority. And when presented with evidence of his misbehavior, she whiffed. Keeping him on staff and reassigning his victim to a new job would be bad form for any employer…
Everything Clinton says or does is seen through its own unique polarized prism, but by no measure would this employer’s response be described as appropriate or responsible in any of the other harassment stories that have come to light in recent months. https://t.co/hpPClNkGDl
— Susan Davis (@DaviSusan) January 27, 2018
…but for a feminist hero, the would-be First Woman President? Unimaginable. Some real remorse is in order, particularly with America still in the throes of the #MeToo moment.
But Hillary doesn’t do remorse. If you paid five minutes of attention to her book or the accompanying tour last year, you already know that. Caught out for going soft on sexual harassment, her strategy in the tweets above is to try to claim solidarity with the woman after refusing to fire her harasser and to do so in a weirdly maternal way by reassuring the woman that she’s “proud” of her, as if receiving the Hillary Clinton seal of approval 10 years after the fact would or should matter under the circumstances. She can’t even directly address the allegations, let alone her role in keeping Strider on. All we get from those tweets about the substance of the incident is a reference to “something that happened in 2008” and the fact that Hillary was, um, “dismayed” about it. Not dismayed enough, it seems.
And then the coup de grace: “We deserve to be heard.” “We”? The reason her wrist-slap of Strider wasn’t known sooner is because the woman he harassed is under an NDA. All campaign workers had to sign one, evidently. If Clinton cares about women being heard, she should declare publicly that NDAs from her two presidential campaigns won’t be enforced in cases where sexual misconduct is belatedly alleged. Every politician should make that declaration, of course, but Hillary could lead the way and set an example. She has nothing to lose politically anymore by doing so. All she has to lose is her legacy, if it turns out that incidents like the Strider episode were more common on her campaigns than we know. With Bill around, anything’s possible.
As it is, she’s taking a beating today from the normally sympathetic commentariat. “On the continuum from bystander to accomplice, Clinton sits uncomfortably close to the latter end,” writes Christina Cauterucci of the Strider incident, adding that Hillary “appears to have willingly put her friend’s career and her campaign’s immediate PR concerns above the safety of her female employees.” At the Times Susan Chira calls yesterday’s story “a poignant reminder that placing women in positions of leadership does not ensure they will always act to protect other women” and ends with a slightly anxious reminder to readers that putting more women in power will make life harder for harassers in the aggregate even if, er, putting Hillary Clinton in power wouldn’t have.
It’s Ruth Marcus who lowers the boom, though:
[C]lassically, infuriatingly, this episode and its aftermath exposes, once again, the trademark Clinton failure to take personal responsibility; the allergy to owning up to error; the refusal to cede any ground, no less apologize; the incessant double-standarding, with different, more forgiving rules for the Clintons and their loyalists. Imagine a Hillary Clinton who said something like this:
“One of my 2008 campaign advisers behaved inappropriately, possibly even illegally, toward a subordinate. Thankfully, the young woman who was the victim of this unacceptable behavior had the strength to come forward and complain about it. Unfortunately, we failed her. I failed her. When this matter was brought to my attention, I was concerned that something like this could happen on my watch. I made the decision that docking the abuser’s pay and sending him to counseling would be an adequate response. In retrospect, that was the wrong call, and I am sorry for not taking stronger action.”
“Imagine that Hillary Clinton. She doesn’t exist,” Marcus adds. She never has. In the annals of Hillary enabling sinister male behavior, the Strider incident barely warrants a footnote. But precisely for that reason, a little shame — even inauthentic shame — would have been welcome in her reaction to the Times story. At least pretend like it bothers you, Hillary. She wouldn’t even give us that. That’s the only virtue of those tweets, I suppose. You’re hearing the authentic voice of Hillary Clinton.
Here she is doing … I don’t even know what, but uttering the line “Activist bitches supporting bitches.” Not always, as Strider’s victim could tell you.
— Alex Mohajer (@AlexMohajer) January 27, 2018