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Hillary’s victimhood paradox

Hillary’s victimhood paradox

Tough … or victim? Pick one, or both.

Hillary Clinton has a political persona that she is tough, but she achieved her level of prominence by being a victim.

Projecting both toughness and victimhood is difficult as they’re opposing qualities. A tough person is admired for being proactive; a victim gaining sympathy is a reaction.

Jonathan Tobin neatly summed up this paradox about Hillary in Can Hillary Play Victim on Benghazi?:

Hillary Clinton is a fascinating political figure in large measure because her success has been built on creating an image as a tough political customer as well as a person who has cashed in on her victimhood. Though she did nothing as secretary of state to bolster the notion that she is the tough-as-nails centrist that her admirers claim her to be, the assumption among many pundits is that her approach to foreign policy is an asset for Democrats who have shucked their party’s former stance as weak on defense. Yet it should also be remembered that Clinton’s election to the Senate was in no small measure the result of her ability to play the victim in the Monica Lewinsky scandal set off by her husband’s affair.

Not only did she played the wronged woman who nevertheless stood by her man beautifully, the most memorable moment in her Senate campaign—indeed, the one that sealed her comfortable victory—was when GOP opponent Rick Lazio stepped over to her podium to address her during a debate. Rightly or wrongly, getting in Hillary’s space was seen as the moral equivalent of an actual assault and doomed whatever slim hopes Lazio might have had of pulling off an upset.

It’s an interesting paradox.

Tobin is right. If the Democrats can they will use the hearings to salvage the 2014 by playing the “Hillary is a victim” card.

And what Democrats are praying for in the Benghazi hearings is another such incident that can be played and relayed endlessly showing Republicans to be bullies who tried and failed to beat down a brave woman.

While such a narrative will be as much balderdash as Clinton’s previous forays into victimhood, it could nevertheless be useful to Democrats both in 2014 as they try to gin up their turnout rates to avoid another midterm blowout as well as for Hillary’s 2016 efforts.

Of course painting Hillary as a victim would make her seem less presidential. But the presidential campaign is still two years away.

Tobin thinks that Rep. Trey Gowdy will be careful and make the hearings about what happened on September 11, 2012 and not about the members of the committee and not even about Hillary Clinton.

Tobin’s view meshes with Charles Krauthammer’s latest column in which he warned:

Nonetheless, these hearings are a big political risk for Republicans. Going into the 2014 election, they stand to benefit from the major issues — Obamacare, the economy, chronic unemployment — from which Benghazi hearings can only distract. Worse, if botched like previous hearings on the matter, these hearings could backfire against the GOP, as did the 1998 Clinton impeachment proceedings. On purely partisan considerations, the hearings are not worth the political risk.

But the country deserves the truth. They’ll get it if the GOP can keep the proceedings clean, factual and dispassionate. No speeches. No grandstanding. Gowdy has got to be a tough disciplinarian — especially toward his own side of the aisle.

Even if the Committee will be bipartisan making Democratic complaints less plausible, I don’t expect that will stop many of them from protesting the proceedings.


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It is interesting that Democrats like that Trey Gowdy is chairing the committee because they think he is fair and not out for political grandstanding.

Hillary still has the media backing her, but they don’t back her the way they backed Obama back in the day. She is going to have to elect to either tough or victim (probably tough because running on victimhood generally does not work).

All comments should be directed to a #SaveOurHillary hotline.
Hillary will only be available for your phone calls between 10 am and 5 pm and no later, “thank you”.

Henry Hawkins | May 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Many Democrats will complain, huh? There’s a shock. If Republicans voted to give a free college education to every minority child in America, many Democrats would complain. If Republicans voted to forfeit their own salaries and savings accounts towards research to cure cancer, many Democrats would complain. There is absolutely nothing Republicans could do over which many Democrats would not complain.

When will the GOP realize that hamstringing themselves over fears of complaints from Democrats is the surest way to draw complaints from Democrats?

Another Voice | May 14, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Looking for GOP in both houses to stand on offense instead of always playing defense. They’re suckers for taking the bait. They need to be initiators of the talking points. Whatever the opposition lays down, turn it back at them and spike. Gowdy has this down pat. They should all watch, take notes and follow his lead. Leave it to the supporting roles of the Palins and Roves to pave the democratic low road they travel to point out the hypocrisies of the conversation the democrats want to control and narrate.