A lot of anonymous people are insisting, with plenty of bitterness but unprovable logic, that Hillary Clinton would have been a better president than Obama. Angriest among these, according to Newsweek's Leslie Bennetts, are older women.
If you missed the bruising battle lines of the 2008 election, never fear: The pro-Hillary PUMA meme is back, at least at some parties and events Bennetts went to in the past few weeks. (To be fair, some were in New Jersey and Connecticut, and not just people venting at the "the members' dining room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.") Bill Maher pretty much directly came out and said that because Bill Clinton cheated on Hillary all the time, she would have been tougher than Obama: "She knows how to deal with difficult men." And then there's this:
Among Clinton fans, particularly older women, the language was frequently far more caustic. "Obama has no spine and no balls," said a 67-year-old New Yorker.
There are two things happening here: The Bill Clinton nostalgia, which remembers him as a shrewd politician and a master communicator, but not all that DOMA/DADT/welfare reform stuff progressives got so mad about, and the narrative, pushed by a small but well-amplified contingent, that Obama was the hotshot young man benefiting from sexism and ageism against Hillary.
That included, of course, Bennetts herself, who wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed in 2008,
Not only is Clinton well beyond the age when our culture deems women to have lost most of their value, but so are all too many of her supporters — and there are few things this country is less interested in than aging women. America requires that females be (or at least appear) young and sexually desirable. Once they've passed the age of facile objectification and commodification, they're supposed to disappear. How dare they not cooperate with our national insistence that older women become invisible?
We have no way of knowing how Hillary Clinton, no stranger to right-wing opposition but also more recently known in her political career for making friends across the aisle, would have grappled with this world gone mad. Ta-Nehisi Coates points out that "everybody's 'tougher' before they're in the actual knife fight." And an "I told you so" forged on personal symbolism has a pretty low bar.