Back to the Scene of the Crime

Illustration by Henry JansenPhoto: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Many different reasons explain Hillary’s inevitable decline: a style too stiff, almost masculine, definitely very tough—somewhere between Eva Perón, Angela Merkel, and Madonna. (Having met Hillary a few times, I believe that this was not her true nature.) And her undeniable and sometimes inexcusable mistakes. Her invocation of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. How could we not interpret this, in Freudian terms, as an expression of her daydream, her unconfessed desire? And therefore the manifestation of her subconscious in broad daylight—something I have personally never seen so flagrantly in any politician in the world, except maybe Nicolas Sarkozy.

But there is one additional reason for her ultimate failure—one that I have seen no one comment on, although I am deeply convinced that this is the one that, in the end, weighed the most heavily: Many women simply couldn’t abide her. I know the polls say the contrary. I also know that the senator herself is convinced that women were behind her: She said it on the last day of her campaign, in that big and beautiful speech at the National Building Museum where she waved the cause of women as her last standard.

But then there are other women (especially the “big” voters, the female opinion-makers, from the conservatives to the liberal Maureen Dowd) who hated this fellow woman, this sister, in whom they never recognized themselves. Whatever people say, they are the ones who slowly cooked her.

It is a familiar picture for a Frenchman who saw the same causes producing the same effects a year ago in the case of the crazy, irrational, often indescribable rejection of the candidate of the left, Ségolène Royal, by so many French women. So many similarities between Royal and Clinton. The same overplayed stiffness. The same strange, almost neurotic refusal to acknowledge their defeat. The same relationship to a partner supposed to support them but who, in reality, brought them down.

And in Hillary’s case, an additional dimension, flabbergasting for a Frenchman, because related to this typically American illness called puritanism: the memory of the Lewinsky affair. How many conversations overheard, in the Starbucks of Des Moines, and even sometimes in New York, among “desperate housewives” claiming that only ambition—the most opportunistic, the ugliest, the fiercest of ambitions—could explain her leniency? “If my husband humiliated me like he humiliated her … I would leave … I would move out … so to go back to the scene of the crime, to push the vice and the complacency to the point of wanting to occupy myself the same office where the act was committed … what a horror! What a shame and what a horror!”

It could have turned out differently. A taste for spectacle and brand-new scenarios could have given us a desire to see the scorned woman put in the unimaginable but fascinating position of entering the devil’s house to drain his chalice to the dregs. But political correctness decided otherwise. I believe that American feminism chose to punish Billary and their criminal liberalism. Such that her defeat is not a defeat of women but, unfortunately, their victory.

Heilemann on Hillary

Patron Saint of Lowbrow Sinners
The Real Mick Jagger of Politics
Evita and Her Juan
Like a Natural Woman

Back to the Scene of the Crime