Media outlets are abuzz with Chelsea Clinton's announcement that she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are expecting their first child this fall. Sharing the joyful news at a “No Ceilings” event for young women in New York, Chelsea said, “I just hope I will be as good a mom to my child and hopefully children as my mom was to me” while Mama Hillary looked on, beaming in the seat next to her. But if anyone is under the impression that pundits would lay off the snark for five minutes to join in the celebration, forget it.
Sept. 25, 2013 - New York City, NY, USA - Chelsea Clinton and Hillary Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative on September 26 2013 in new York City (Credit Image: © Nancy Rivera/Ace Pictures/ZUMAPRESS.com)
New York Times financial analyst Andrew Ross Sorkin suggested on Morning Joe that the timing of this was staged to soften Hillary’s image in time for her presidential run. This grandbaby will be a “game changer,” he said. Radio host Marl Salzberg declared that Chelsea's pregnancy was “staged” in order to “curry sympathy.”
I’m impressed the Clintons made time in their very busy schedules to plot out Chelsea’s ovulation calendar! By this reasoning, Hillary must have arranged for Chelsea to marry a man with a high sperm count to guarantee results. Did he have to fill out a questionnaire? It must have been a doozy.
How a grandbaby is magically supposed to land Secretary Clinton in the White House, these guys never say. Must be a magical baby! Critics on the left and right, fond of blaming her for every cloud in the sky, have endowed Hillary with an omniscience that is oddly complimentary, telegraphing how threatening she is and how much she lives rent free in the heads of her detractors. (Sarah Palin could speak to this issue as well.)
The idea that Hillary Clinton’s daughter would – or even could – guarantee a pregnancy to help her mother’s alleged upcoming campaign is as insulting as it is goofy. To follow this line of reasoning, Chelsea Clinton is merely a prop – an obvious falsehood apparent to anyone spending five minutes in a room with these two women. The talking heads offer up this foolishness anyway.
Still others were speculating how having a grandchild would affect Hillary’s ability to be Commander-in-Chief. Sexist much?
Ms. Jodi Kantor of the New York Times inquired:
"How will the public view the prospect of a grandmother presidential candidate, a commander in chief who bounces a toddler one day and orders drone strikes the next? Does the word “grandmother” connote authority, durability and wisdom, or a less-flattering set of associations?"
Did you get that? This serious inquiry came from The New York Times, that bastion of progressive, unbiased, enlightened thinking. How many men have been grandfathers while President and which of them has ever been asked such a question?
The Guardian Liberty Voice had the best take on this new “controversy” in their article, Hillary Clinton, Grandmother-in-Chief: “There are no signs as yet that Chelsea and husband Marc Mezvinsky are planning to make grandma Hillary the primary care giver to their child.”
Hey, ya never know. Perhaps Ms. Kantor is sweating that Hillary will be testing baby formula with one hand while juggling a phone call to President Putin with the other?
Please don’t worry. Us wimminz are real good at multitasking. We’ve been doing it for centuries. I hear Hillary folds a helluva diaper.
What is the main function of a grandparent, you might ask? Often, it is to pop in once a month with gifts and spoil the grand-kiddies. This doesn’t sound taxing. While this is not to take away from grandparents who take a more active role, I'm sure Hillary can handle the balancing act -- just like Papa Bush did as President and Grandpa concurrently.
For anyone who missed it, Hillary is not the one with the baby bump. I guess Sorkin and Salzberg are worry about an approval bump, however. Someone should tell them that Millennials are more concerned with earning the scratch to move out of their own Mama’s house to start their own families. So, while we should celebrate Chelsea and Mark’s anticipated bundle of joy, the only joy voters will find is in a leader who can get us on better economic footing, baby booties notwithstanding.
These granny “questions” smack of excuse-making and are desperate jabs to find reasons why a woman, any woman, cannot be a qualified leader. Ms. Kantor’s questions bring into sharp focus the innate bias we still carry about a woman’s inherent “softness.”
This is not about Hillary. Anyone rising as high as she has would get what she’s getting. A drubbing over her hair, rump, ankles, marital choices, femininity or the lack thereof, “likeability,” and now, another ageist reference via “Grandma.”
Per the Guardian Liberty Voice:
"During the Women in the World conference Hillary is quoted to have said, ‘The double standard is alive and well, and I think in many respects the media is the principal propagator of its persistence.” Some in the media may have perceived this comment as a challenge and opportunistically chosen to swing back and make it personal."
They don’t need provocation to attack her. Media outlets on the left and right have been doing that for 22 years. But this time, that may be beside the point.
By Hillary Clinton drawing attention to the sexist bias early, coupled with the strategy of talking up the empowerment of women and girls, an issue near to her heart, she is making the issue a centerpiece of any possible campaign. Hillary is daring the mainstream media to land on the wrong side of progress by putting forth the same sexist line of attack they did in 2008.
If they do, social media is a far more powerful tool than it was six years ago. The ability to counter an attack with its viral opposite is a far greater risk for the shock jocks and purportedly serious pundits who would “concern troll” about a woman’s age or ability to juggle various responsibilities about which a man would not be questioned.
There has been some speculation that Hillary’s longing to become a grandmother may make her turn down the golden opportunity to run for the Presidency. Yet she has been feathering the nest in every practical way in preparation for a ‘yes’ decision via her many speeches in diverse venues across the nation, her upcoming book on her tenure as Secretary of State, and her continuing work on behalf of Too Small to Fail and the Clinton Foundation. It is hard to imagine any scenario where Hillary Clinton chooses not to take the leap.
If indeed she does run, operatives on both sides may get more blowback than expected if they continue foolish conspiracy theories and ageist, sexist attacks that do nothing but alienate sensible voters, and make the accusers seem more and more on the fringe.
Sometimes a baby is just a baby.
*Originally published at EPIC TIMES.*
Anita Finlay is the bestselling author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin. Sharing the untold story of Hillary's 2008 campaign, Dirty Words exposes media sexism in a society not as evolved as advertised. "The book tells it like it is for women aspiring to power." #1 on Amazon's Women in Politics books for 16 weeks.
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