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September 25, 2013

Hillary: Like Any Good Rorschach

Like any good Rorschach test, New York magazine’s most recent Hillary Clinton cover offers plenty of fodder for critics and supporters alike. Those hoping that Clinton will get the last laugh in 2016 see a confident, carefree stateswoman. While her gray suit signals gravitas, her ebullient visage suggests that although she might want the presidency in 2016, she doesn’t need it. Conversely, Clinton critics (like those featured in Michele Mallkin’s “Twitchy” brigade) see the flattering picture as evidence of liberal media bias.

The Twitchy troupe may be onto something. The New York magazine cover functions as a visual rebuttal to the attack against Hillary’s presidential run that is beginning to coalesce on the Right. In 2008, she was attacked as a woman (a fact lamented by the Washington Post’s Marie Cocco  soon after the conclusion of the Democratic primary and confirmed by subsequent academic research here and here). More recently, however, Hillary’s opponents have been working hard to characterize her as an old lady. In his response to the New York magazine profile, the Washington Times’s Wesley Pruden opined, “Hillary would be 69 on Inauguration Day 2017, not particularly old for a man not out of sight of his prime, but a woman in public life is getting past her sell-by date at 69.” Prudin’s specious claim is underscored by the visual the Times chose to pair with his column.

The nondescript file photo of Clinton is made meaningful by the column’s associated headline: “Hillary’s Roots Give Her Away.” Not only does the narrative characterize Clinton as an old bag/hag (take your pick!), but it also intimates a lack of authenticity.  Of course, in the contemporary media landscape, being old is a far greater crime for women than is being inauthentic. It’s a powerful attack insofar as what has held women back historically in the presidential arena has been their lack of relevant experience in executive governance relative to men. Clinton, however, would be the most experienced contender in any field of presidential hopefuls one could imagine coalescing in 2016. So, the smart move would be to make her experience a liability rather than an asset.

Fortunately, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 persona has yet to come into focus—a fact highlighted by the style of a photo that accompanies the New York magazine cover story. In that shot by Christopher Anderson, the blur signals the media’s lack of clarity when it comes to Clinton and her presidential prospects.

This photo suggests that a dynamic and vibrant Clinton is poised for the (very long) 2016 presidential campaign. Time will determine on which version of Hillary Clinton the media will choose to focus.

– Karrin Anderson | @KVAnderson

(photo 1: Douglas Friedman/Trunk Archive. photo 2:**FILE** Hillary Rodham Clinton (Associated Press). photo 3: Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos/New York Magazine. caption: Hillary Clinton receiving the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, September 10)

  • psychohistorian

    Do people really think beyond the BigSell that Hillery is being given? This woman will be touted as the next best thing when compared to whomever the GOP runs, just like Obama.

    And how is that working out for us? Pretty shitty, if I do say.

    • black_dog_barking

      Pretty shitty maybe when compared to some standard grounded in the results one hopes for in quiet moments, but pretty shitty compared to what reality offered us? President McCain or Romney? Vice President Palin or what’s-his-name from Wisconsin?

  • black_dog_barking

    By any metric based on talent and aptitude Ms Clinton is probably the best qualifed official candidate for the Oval Office put forward in my lifetime. She’s smart, has a lifetime of experience and hands-on experience in the highest offices. Damn, she’s lived in the White House for 8 years!

    That the nasty bunch that has dominated national political conversation for the past generation is driven to madness by Clinton speaks loudly to her favor for me. Electing a woman as President should not be a priority and it wouldn’t be except that we’re now in our third century as a nation and we still have yet to do so. So, really, it’s about fucking time.

    • aSouthernMan

      You left out that we know she is holding back information for her
      “I-was-asleep” role in the Embassy murders. She, Mr Obama, and the
      Democratic party are shutting that information down by purposefully
      preventing by hiding/barring the key players from providing testimony.
      And this is someone to consider as Presidential material ? No way.

  • Scarabus

    Couldn’t help being struck by the way the Balthus teaser is placed right beside her head. If you know Balthus’s work, you’ll know this is not a positive association.

    Remember the controversial photo of Konrad Adenauer? The one his supporters said was intended to show him as being too old to govern?

    There were jokes about Bob Dole (Question: Which does he wear – boxers or briefs? Answer: Depends.) Reagan joked about his own age – ironically, given the way Alzheimer’s affected him. McCain’s age and health were always a concern, especially after he selected Palin.

  • psychohistorian

    I would like to provide a link to the top 45 lies in Obama’s UN speech in reply to black_dog_barking who proves my point so earnestly…..

    http://www.alternet.org/world/top-45-lies-obamas-un-speech?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

    • 1nancy2

      Crow all you want: T. repubs. are kaput. Huge swaths across the country can’t stand them. OUT and I hope for Good!

  • orazor1324

    Great piece, but I might take exception with the claim that “Clinton, however, would be the most experienced contender in any field of presidential hopefuls one could imagine coalescing in 2016.” Not sure if Biden will be part of the field, but if so I think there’s a good argument that he’s got at least as much, and probably more, experience.

  • bks3bks

    Hillary the warmonger harridan is pretty bad, but she’ll look like a Venus/Minerva chimera when the GOP rolls out its hideous candidate.
    –bks

    • 1nancy2

      bk Love your comment. You sure know the crazy t. repubs!

  • 1nancy2

    Scott Walker from WI…A terrible, nasty, hateful man. Hey WI. Happy you voted for this twit? Get him out, pronto. In fact, all across the country, vote out the t.repubs. you put in in ‘10. You will rue the day you have t.repubs. dictating for your states. O. is no bargain, but better than the hideous names you listed. No more t. repubs. Down with t. repubs and/or any repub. No more t. repubs in the WH. Yippee.

  • sSouthernMan

    Scott Walker and his willingness to stand down the Obama
    organized unions uproar SAVED his state from seeing the
    bankruptcy problems our good friends in California, Illinois,
    and Michigan are having. You want economic collapse?
    You get that when you think public money is to be plucked
    from the public-vine at the whim of government to pay the
    fatcat government pay raises being forced by the unions.

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