Hillary Clinton gave a speech the other day: a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women. Nothing revolutionary about that. What's making headlines about this event, though, is how it's being used as an example of Clinton miraculously going "human."
Apparently, until this moment, we've been worried HRC was an android.
Why? Because, in addition to talking politics, Clinton briefly mentioned stereotypical lady-stuff — you know, the things all American women are supposed to care about. "You can tell I'm not doing Fitbit," Clinton reportedly said at one point; she also referred to being just shy of hoarder-dom, saying, "I don't throw anything away. I'm like two steps short of a hoarder."
Some news outlets seized on these comments as evidence that Clinton is trying to ingratiate herself with voters — especially female ones — by emphasizing her similarities to them. "The former first lady again attempted to empathize with conference goers, and showcase her own struggles with everyday issues, while talking about her weight," the Daily Mail explained. It also noted that she's been playing up her role as a mother and grandmother in other recent comments. Is that true?
Who knows, but it wouldn't be the first time she's been accused of such shrewd "empathizing." In 2008, journalist Maureen Dowd, among others, said essentially the same thing when Clinton got a little misty-eyed on the campaign trail. Her tears got so much publicity that she was forced to defend herself in the media, reminding us, "I actually have emotions."
The fact that female candidates get mocked for daring to show a hint of emotion is, well, pretty depressing. Clinton is a veritable political powerhouse whose cachet seems to rise on a daily basis. She's gaining popularity among millennials, and, as we noted in a story earlier this month, though she hasn't formally announced yet that she's running for president in 2016, she's pretty much "already winning."
The fact that female politicians are bashed for being uncouth or overly strategic when they show occasional flashes of self-consciousness or deprecation is one thing. It's another thing to only focus on those comments. Calculating or not, Clinton is human, and it's no secret: all politicians do what they can to endear themselves to constituents. It's just part of the game.
For what it's worth, 95%t of Clinton's Silicon Valley keynote speech on Tuesday was spent discussing other matters, like the possibility of a presidency. According to NBC News, when journalist Kara Swisher asked where Clinton currently stands on announcing her candidacy, she said, "I am obviously talking to a lot of people, thinking [it] through."
She also spoke about her commitment to gender equality, saying of Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech: "She's right, it's time to have wage equality once and for all."
Why can't we focus on that stuff — the important stuff — instead of her quippy one-offs about Fitbit? Somehow we suspect that no one will be talking about Hillary’s supposed hoarding tendencies when (god willing) she's striding into the Oval Office in 2016. Or...we certainly hope no one will.