I have only written two other columns denouncing a sexist attack on Hillary Clinton this election season. The first one was calling out the nonsense of pretending Hillary Clinton came from a dynasty like Jeb Bush did, when in fact, she came from a middle-class family and worked with her husband to build a career centered on helping middle class and poor Americans. The second was the Matt Lauer debacle because the misogyny on display that night was simply an unforgivable example to show our children.
This is the third.
USA Today wrote an editorial taking a side in a presidential election for the first time in their 34-year history. They sided against Donald Trump, “This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences. This year, one of the candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump — is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.”
They went through a list of reasons Trump is unfit for the office, all of them accurate and pretty established among the sane.
But then they tripped. And it can’t be left unaddressed because this must stop. In explaining how the board was split, they wrote that some think Clinton a good choice while others have “reservations about her sense of entitlement”:
Some of us look at her command of the issues, resilience and long record of public service — as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of State — and believe she’d serve the nation ably as its president.
Other board members have serious reservations about Clinton’s sense of entitlement, her lack of candor and her extreme carelessness in handling classified information.
So to those board members and the joint decision to publish that, what does that even mean?
That is a vague personal attack on par with Donald Trump’s claims that online polls prove he won. It is meaningless, a smear based on some notion that she should not feel entitled to run for office for some reason. Or that she is ambitious.
Believe me, this is a dog whistle as loud as Republicans calling President Obama “boy”, “uppity” and “arrogant”.
Entitled means, “Believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”
The media didn’t call Mitt Romney entitled, and he was born with a silver spoon and his wife expressed that it was his turn. They aren’t calling Trump entitled, and he hasn’t even worked in government before and has no idea how the government works. Donald Trump didn’t work in public service for 40 years like Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was given millions of dollars by his father.
But they call the woman who was born to a middle-class family “entitled” to an office no woman has ever held. It is actually impossible for a woman to feel entitled to the presidency. That is quite simply a comment dripping with male privilege and misogyny.
Who is entitled?
In what way did Hillary Clinton express her entitlement? Was it working for practically nothing to ensure that all children, including disabled children and minority children, had access to things children should have? Was it working in public service for 40 years, building a résumé with which to run for the office of the presidency? Maybe it was humbling herself to work for her opponent after a tough loss in 2008.
Hillary Clinton has the most experience of any candidate to run for the office.
This makes Hillary Clinton qualified and an expert, which naturally mean of course she should run. Who better to run than someone with the most experience? There is no demand of special privilege there. It’s called hard work. A lot of hard work and a lot of busting past this kind of ugly sexism that seeks to limit women’s access to power by punishing them for wanting it.
She wants power; she worked for it. What’s the problem? Oh, and it should matter that she has always worked to use power to help families and children. It’s not like she wants to get into the White House to help Halliburton, although that is perfectly acceptable for men and it seems fine that Trump wants to get into the White House to give himself even more tax breaks and perhaps dump some of his massive debt.
Hillary Clinton is not perfect and it’s absolutely legitimate to cite issues that might make a person prefer to vote for a third party (although if one is against Trump doing so defeats the purpose, but the point remains). But it is not okay to smear Clinton with some vague personal attack that is not launched at people who are actually privileged and entitled.
There is nothing more entitled than thinking that you don’t even need to have a résumé to run for the presidency, that you can do so without releasing your tax returns and even basic medical information.
The only entitled person in this race is Donald Trump.
This attack comes from a place rooted in misogyny, and that is why it’s a personal attack with no credible facts behind it. It is beneath the dignity of USA Today and it is a great disservice to the women and girls of this country.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.