By Peter Daou
Hillary’s July 7 CNN interview has sparked a flurry of commentary. On Twitter, the #HillaryonCNN hashtag is a swamp of typical rightwing Hillary-bashing. Politico trotted out the shop-worn tropes “defensive” and “long-evasive” to describe her demeanor. The Daily Beast published a shameful article titled, “Hillary Plays The Victim in CNN Interview.” Rife with anti-Hillary memes (described in my Hillary Decoder), the piece is an ugly mélange of gratuitous smears:
Guarded, quibbling, pokerfaced, cagey, defensive, stingy, cautious, self-justifying, pugnacious, inauthentic, desperate, creakily baroque, a bobblehead doll, insincere.
Having missed the interview when it aired, I went back and watched it to see what might spark such seething anger.
The interview was innocuous enough. Hillary was herself: tough, smart, solid, no B.S. Straightforward answers, nothing earth-shattering. She delivered a great line: “I'm not running my campaign for the press, I'm running it for the voters.” She joked about SNL.
So why the vitriolic reaction from her detractors? And it hit me: she’s strong. Unflinching strong. Tenacious strong. Unfazed by decades of coordinated attacks strong. Ready to face the wall of words arrayed against her strong. Hillary strong.
For obvious reasons her strength gets under some people’s skin. It intimidates them, threatens their worldview. As I wrote a few months ago:
Hillary Clinton is indomitable. Famous. Funny. Fearless. The Euclidean center of political gravity. She is a woman in a world where women aren’t supposed to be Hillary Clinton.
Real #HillaryMen value Hillary’s strength, respect and admire it. It sets an example for men, women, boys and girls across the world. It shows that as long as your center is rock solid, you can remain dignified no matter how many people verbally assault you.
Hillary is one of history’s most notable women in no small part because of her inner fortitude, her strength of character. Many people want to bring her down because of it. #HillaryMen will stand with her and defend her against their desperate, enraged words.
Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.