The Washington Times’ Wesley Pruden just derided Hillary Clinton for her “occasional” visits to the hairdresser and wrote that while a man of 69 is not out of his prime, a woman being inaugurated at that age is well past her “sell-by” date. However one feels about Hillary, do Pruden or Republicans like Mitch McConnell, with his recent “Golden Girls” jibes think ageism is a winning election strategy going forward? Fair or not, they now hold the mantle for being clueless about and disrespectful toward women.
Republicans increasingly represent an older demographic. It might surprise them that woman of all political stripes take offense at being considered dead, useless or invisible because they are not swimsuit model age. Note to self: in order to prevail in a national election, one must actually win votes beyond one’s own base.
Pruden’s and Senator McConnell’s disrespect is as shocking as their myopia.
Despite a youth-obsessed culture where advertisers thrive on airbrushing, the desirable youth demographic are not the ones with the dough, nor do they typically vote in great number. Many are now unemployed or in student-loan hell and have had to move back in with Mom and Dad. The group Pruden thinks he can put out to pasture are the spit and glue of this economy and just might spank his compadres’ collective rumps at election time.
Considering that Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State with a popularity near 70%, someone other than Democrats must respect her. She has been voted the country’s most admired woman for 17 out of the last 20 years. To be derided for looking her age after working as hard as she has might not go over so well, particularly with the 40% of women who are now head of household or sole breadwinners – regardless of party.
Women handed Republicans a stinging defeat in 2012. Todd Akin’s cruel and clueless “legitimate rape” comments notwithstanding, some Conservative women in swing states voted against men who paraded ignorance of basic science.
Pruden, or Eric Erickson, who posit that working women are causing the demise of society and should age quietly and out of view echo the attitude one would expect from a beer commercial. This tactic might not win as many votes as Pruden imagines.
One could almost believe that these sexist, ageist comments are Kabuki Theatre from those willfully working to destroy what is left of the Republican Party from within.
We saw what inexperience and “freshness” got us last time. Who knows, people might not mind a few wrinkles.
While I have been most critical of current Democrats as led by President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, it would be foolish to forget their pandering to women works at election time. But never fear – there is still some hope for Republicans in 2016.
Certain progressive female pundits enjoy helping Pruden trash Hillary using eerily similar sexist stereotypes: they call her “frumpy, stumpy and myopic,” blame Hill for Bill, refer to her as “a woman with ice for blood,” a “shoulder-pad feminist” and “Sybil,” who suffered multiple personality disorder. See Camille Paglia of Salon.com, Amy Davidson of The New Yorker and Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, respectively.
Either these women “bond with the offender” in order to maintain a seat at the table, they expect a female candidate to carry the banner for all womanhood – a bar of perfection no man ever had to cross – or Clinton mirrors a grit possessed by each of them with which they remain uneasy.
That tells us two things: first the illusion of a loss of male control simply because we have a female Commander in Chief still threatens some in both sexes. Second, the guys in charge of the ink barrel like to hire women who snipe at their own, thereby maintaining the status quo.
Even if the ageism of Pruden and McDonnell (no spring chicken at 71) wound up benefitting another male phenom American-Idol type as it did in 2008, that would likely be a Democrat, as too many women are repulsed by the kind of rhetoric they hear coming from the right.
The truth is that the left can be every bit as bad. Their sexist attacks toward both Hillary and Palin in 2008 were despicable, yet owing to the bent of mainstream media, the left generally gets a pass on their sexism while the right gets no such break. So I’d guess the mainstream media will cancel out the advantage Camille, Amy and Maureen are handing Republicans like McConnell.
Will the criticisms that Ms. Dowd et al aim at Hillary Clinton be enough to derail her? Perhaps. It worked last time. But that will be unlikely to get Republicans across the finish line. A strategy offering actual policy will be required.
Remarks about a woman’s “sell-by date” from Pruden and his political brethren are not likely to help.
Anita Finlay is the author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin, a shocking exposé deconstructing the biased media narrative plaguing women who dare to lead.
Available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon. #1 on Women in Politics books for 16 weeks.
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