Although there has been no shortage of commentary on former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile's bombshell new book, Hacks, I want to zero in on one aspect of Brazile's revelations that has been overlooked: Brazile inadvertently lifts the lid and shows what her party really thinks about women.
Embedded in the book is a paternalistic (or perhaps in this case we should say maternalistic) attitude towards women. Brazile writes that after Hillary Clinton collapsed at an event marking the anniversary of Sept. 11, she considered, as apparently can be done by the DNC, replacing Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine on the Democratic ticket with Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
Brazile writes that she had already realized the Clinton campaign was "anemic" and that it had "the odor of failure." Thus a Biden-Booker ticket, in her view, had a better chance of staving off what she viewed as the unmitigated disaster of a Donald Trump victory.
Given the enormous stakes, why didn't Brazile act?
It is impossible to know whether Brazile could have really orchestrated such an unheard-of move, or even whether Brazile really seriously contemplated it at the time or if it is now just a convenient excuse for her part in losing the 2016 presidential race. But her stated rationale for not saving the world from Donald Trump says it all.
"I thought of Hillary, and all the women in the country who were so proud of and excited about her," Brazile now claims. "I could not do this to them." Whatever else this says, it speaks volumes about the Democratic Party's attitude towards women.
Women are seen as poor innocents, so vested in the success of a female candidate that an argument about changing the ticket to create a better atmosphere for winning would be above their reasoning powers. They could never buck up and debate the merits of a ticket change because women are … wait … just so emotional. They are so innocently "proud and excited" about the lovable Mrs. Clinton, and it just wouldn't do to break their little hearts. If only women were more adult, Donna Brazile might have been able to save the world from Donald Trump.
Interestingly, Brazile sets herself above such typical women; she is different. You see, Donna Brazile is one of the guys.
In a telling quote from Hacks in HuffPost, Brazile shows unmistakably what she thinks it takes to succeed in politics: cartoonish masculinity. "Gentlemen," she challenges, "let’s just put our dicks out on the table and see who’s got the bigger one, because I know mine is bigger than all of yours." Nice.
Brazile also watched as her party used the gender card to bamboozle or guilt-trip women into believing they had to vote for Hillary Clinton. Prime among these attempts was one by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who threatened women who weighed the issues and decided how to vote on their own, with fire and brimstone. "Just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other," Albright told us.
You don't talk to people you consider thinking adults this way. But Albright was hardly alone in employing condescension as a way to corral women into supporting Clinton. Gloria Steinem went so far as to chastise women who were supporting Bernie Sanders over Clinton as being boy crazy.
From Albright to Steinem to Brazile, this is not a very respectful way to look at the intelligence of women. It is all the more insulting that these appeals to a childish brand of blind loyalty were dragged out on behalf of such a woman as Hillary Clinton – entitled, arrogant, incompetent, dishonest, and after losing the prize she felt was rightly hers, to the naked eye increasingly unhinged.
After attempting to cajole women into believing they were obliged to vote for Clinton, now Brazile is scapegoating them as a key reason why the Democrats lost.
Brazile has implied that, but for the pride and excitement of a bunch of dumb women, she would have changed the Democratic ticket and thus prevented the most devastating electoral defeat in the history of her party.
Brazile's tell-all expose has made many Democratic insiders angry and uncomfortable. Women should also take a hard look at how this party which has been a home for so many of them, really looks at them. It isn't a pretty picture.