I was elated when President-elect Obama named Hillary Clinton as his nominee for Secretary of State. I have made no secret of my deep affection, respect and obsession for all things Hillary Clinton related. She is brilliant, a savvy politician, charismatic, tough, and has enough name recognition to be extremely effective.
I become convinced that she would be an ardent support of Obama's administration during her passionate speech at the Democratic National Convention. It became clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that despite her personal disappointment she was happy to get to see the first black President of the United States be elected in her lifetime. I believe that she will work diligently to further American interests across the globe during the Obama administration.
I have grown increasingly convinced that Obama is sexist in potentially dangerous ways. He seemed genuinely unaware of the misogynist overtones of some of his statements during the primary such as referring to Hillary being overemotional or her "claws coming out." In a really peculiar way his selection of her as Secretary of State only confirmed my conviction that sexism played a substantial role in the campaign.
During the primary when Hillary attempted to emphasize her experiences in national security and diplomacy it was confronted with sexist perceptions of her work as First Lady. The dismissive tone that news pundits, other Democratic candidates, and President-elect Obama used in responding to her assertions of experience were terrifying. The culminating sexist comment in the primary would be "It's that experience, that understanding, not just of what world leaders I went and talked to in the ambassadors house I had tea with, but understanding the lives of the people like my grandmother who lives in a tiny hut in Africa." Spoken by President-elect Obama himself, of course.
So in spite of my enthusiastic support of her nomination I find myself a little confused and put off. What changed in the few short months for folks like Chris Dodd and Obama to suddenly decide that the secret to U.S. diplomacy in this complicated and dangerous time might be tea parties? Imagine it State Department sponsored tea parties in Gaza between Hamas and Israel - tea parties with Iran and Cuba - tea parties between India and Pakistan - Hillary's nomination represents an entirely new feminized tea drinking approach to diplomacy that will mark a solid break with Bush doctrine.
Lets be clear, that shit is sexist and fucked up. While some feminist blogs have discussed the complicated gendered dimensions of Hillary's nomination by a President-elect who belittled her experience in a dismissive sexist way a few months ago the mainstream media and blogosphere have paid little attention. I contend that Hillary's experience (and her gender) make her more acceptable to Obama and a lot of men in our country as chief diplomat than as Commander in Chief. Apparently you only need testicles to be Commander in Chief.
When Obama replaces Gates as Secretary of Defense a woman should be on the shortlist. If Hillary was not going to be busy throwing tea parties as Secretary of State, I would be rooting for her.