Admit it. Even if you support Hillary Clinton, some part of you secretly wishes some other woman *cough, Michelle Obama or Elizabeth Warren,* could be the first female president. You’re worried, because Clinton’s favourability numbers (38 per cent) are in the cellar, and pollsters everywhere are saying she’s the least popular Democratic presidential candidate since anyone started counting.

The girls and young women we want to be inspired by this moment aren’t. They’ve flocked to Bernie Sanders, who’s much more trusted.

Let’s face it, we want girls and young women to look into the future and see a clear blue sky, and Hillary—well, Hillary just seems like damaged goods.

If we really want our girls and young women to aim high, we should tell them the truth. They’re in for a fight, and there won’t be anything fair about it.

Because we’re telling them the biggest fattest lie in the world if we let them believe that Hillary Clinton's main problem is Hillary Clinton. Her problem is her gender.

Any other woman stepping up for this role would be attacked just as viciously and effectively as Hillary Clinton has been. And other women won't necessarily stand up for her when she is.

Until she ran for president, Clinton was the most admired woman in the world

This might surprise you now, but according to Gallup, in 2015 Americans admired Hillary Clinton more than any other woman in the world. More than Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai or Oprah.

A lot more.

And Clinton didn’t just top the list in 2015, but she’s topped it each of the last 14 years, and 20 years overall. That’s the best record for any man or woman since Gallup began polling this question in 1948. And those numbers matched Clinton's extraordinarily high approval rating during her tenure as Secretary of State, when she reached a high of 66 per cent. That’s far above anything Barack Obama achieved in his entire presidency, and it’s well above even Michelle Obama today.

So what the hell happened? The woman ran for president, that’s what. Who does she think she is?

Look no further than Clinton’s media coverage.

N​egative media coverage flipped perception

Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center reports that in comparison with all other candidates, coverage of Hillary Clinton went overwhelmingly negative, with 84 per cent of stories taking a negative slant. That compares with 43 per cent negative reporting on Donald Trump and 17 per cent on Bernie Sanders.

To put it another way, the most qualified presidential candidate in history got twice the negative media as a racist four-time bankrupt con artist who is manifestly unfit for public office.

And Trump won HUUGE on earned media, garnering an estimated $2 billion in free coverage for his campaign, just by February alone - more than twice the coverage accorded Hillary.

In media today, traffic drives profits which drive content. Once it became clear she was going to seek the presidency, hateful or negative stories about Hillary went viral. So the media kept it coming and never stopped. Just as birtherism reinforced Obama's "foreignness,” the internet became a closed circle of the collective subconscious and misogyny.

And it worked. Her approval ratings dropped like a rock.

Like every other male presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton has baggage, but hers draws a nearly hysterical public and media response.

Look at the ugliness of the Republican convention, where the delegates were blood-thirsty. Bernie’s supporters weren’t much better at the Democratic Convention. They swooned for Obama and Biden, who share her record, and screamed at Clinton. Even Susan Sarandon famously says that Hillary would be more dangerous than Donald Trump. What are these people smoking?

The frenzy of hatred Hillary Clinton inspires is not unique to her, because it’s not about her. It would happen to any woman, and our girls deserve to know this. Because what’s happened to Hillary mirrors the swarming harassment and misogyny that young women experience every day online.

Clinton objectively rated the most honest candidate, yet is perceived as dishonest

Objectively speaking, Clinton is not corrupt and dishonest and she didn’t rig the nomination.

She’s been rated by Politifact, the Pulitzer-prize-winning fact-checkers, as more honest than every other major candidate.

And despite being widely perceived as a puppet of Wall Street, her Senate voting record is rated mainstream progressive - more progressive than Joe Biden's or Barack Obama's.

Nate Silver ranks her record in liberal terms as comparable to Elizabeth Warren, and not at all distant from Bernie Sanders.

Jill Abramson, the former editor-in-chief of the New York Times who has covered Clinton for decades, should be required reading on the subject of Clinton's fundamental honesty.

Even on the explosive issue of her emails, Clinton was singled out for special condemnation. Both Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice followed a similar approach to Clinton’s. Yet after months of virtually non-stop negative coverage, in defiance of all independent assessments, it's almost an accepted fact that she's more dishonest than any of her colleagues or predecessors.

Hmmm, woman as liar. What an awfully familiar stereotype.

So, here we are, 98 days from the election.

The most qualified candidate in history could lose to the least

The most qualified presidential candidate in history is running against the least qualified, and it’s a close race!

Older women are sitting back nodding, because they’ve seen this movie before. For older women, this campaign is like a looping sing-along Sound of Music, and they know all the words.

Luckily, Hillary has been doing this backward and in high heels for decades.

If Hillary Clinton stands on the doorstep of history today, it’s because she aimed high and fought for it with fierce intelligence and fearless determination. It took steel and guts to get where she is, and fire too. It took wisdom, clear-eyed realism and the toughness to fail and get back up, over and over again. It took a cast-iron stomach and the skin of a rhino.

It took every quality a president needs.

Our girls can handle the truth, and they deserve to know it.

If there's a roadmap to becoming the first woman president of the United States, it's written in the scars on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Investigative journalism has never been more important. Will you help?

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Comments

As a female I think this article/opinion is ridiculous. I would never vote for someone because of their gender. It is obvious that Bernie Sanders was the one one who got the short end of the stick when it came to the media coverage and support for his campaign in the US election. In regards to Hilary's scars, what about the scars of Libyans, the scars of Palestinians, the scars of the Hondurans to name a few who suffer because of her policies and decisions when she was Secretary of State. Just because she held the job doesn't mean she was good at it. The world certainly isn't a better place because of her. It is so annoying when people say she is intelligent; sly, self-serving and power hungry would be more appropriate. Hillary's "scars", you mean the $14,000 jacket she's wearing. Please.

Thank you for commenting, Deborah. It may seem to you that Sanders got the short end of the stick in coverage, but in fact he got very little negative coverage, and certainly didn’t undergo the scrutiny that Clinton faced.

It might have been a much more interesting race if he had.

I appreciate your comment that sexism plays no role in your opinion, though your focus on “power-hungry” (as if Bernie was not) Clinton’s wardrobe makes a nice point.

You may think that some other woman would make a better candidate, but let me ask this question: If a woman had sat as an independent in Congress for 25 years and produced only one bill in all that time, if she were unable to muster more than one or two supporters among the hundreds of senators and representatives she’d served with in all that time, if she were known for her attacks on her natural allies and had no international experience and no record of negotiating major agreements, would she have received so little negative media scrutiny as Bernie Sanders?

Would all those voters flock to her with such certain conviction of her qualifications to serve as president?

That’s the real theme of my column.

I am struck by your example of a female with the same record as Bernie Sanders. No, I would not vote for this female candidate based on her record. But it is clear to me that the very record that HRC has amassed, which makes her the most experienced candidate ever, is ironically the source of her problem as she has had years of attacks by the extreme end of the political spectrum, fantasy attacks with no merit. As the attackers well know, throw enough mud and some will eventually stick. Social media is awash with logical fallacies of every variety, and they can be very persuasive. A good example is the swift boating of John Kerry. But these types of attacks continue to cause great numbers of voters to actually vote against their best interests, which of course is the intent of the attacks. And now we have Bannon of Breitbart in the mix, so things will only get worse. We are in a national crisis, and we can only hope that enough voters engage their common sense in the voting booth and select the most qualified candidate.

Sandy, thank you for the article you wrote. I deserves a response, no doubt.
Perspective is nothing more than arranging the blocks to fit your paradigm. Many women support Hillary for the simple reason that is the strength of the "Girls Club." You have a new mascot that is in tatters. But it was not the doing of the Trump machine or the liberal media eating their own. She did this to herself. You just failed to point out the reality. She lies. And gets caught out and continues to lie, pathologically driven. One poll which states she is more honest than any other candidate does not dismiss her crimes. Being more honest is much like being more dead or more pregnant. She is not honest. And the only reason she has fallen from the grace of 20 years of Gallup Poll Admired, it is because she got found out. She is not where she is due to ethics, hard work or luck. It is because she climbed over everyone who got in her way and then lied about the facts. And her husband had discreet chats, helping her through the quagmire in which she found herself.
If my daughter came home and said she wanted to be like Hillary Clinton I would have to address my failure as a father. The world does not need the ego trip she plays daily. She is dangerous, mean and nasty. She is a vile, foul mouthed person that needs to be kept out of Washington, by casting a vote for whomever. I would vote for Richard Nixon, if possible, before I voted for her. Wake up and change brands of coffee.

Thanks for writing, Randy. The assessment that Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest doesn’t come from a poll, but from Politifact, a Pulitzer-prize-winning fact checking organization.

The essential theme of my article isn’t about Hillary’s honesty, but about the fact that unfounded accusations are typical of what any woman candidate will face.

Your comment is precisely what this article is trying to address. You say she lies, is foul mouthed, vile, and so on, but I'm sure you'd be hard pressed to come up with verified independently sourced facts to back up your overly negative opinion of her. Your views are a product of the very skewed nature of her media coverage, which has skewered, excoriated, and eviscerated her in ways no previous candidate has ever had to endure. Its amazing, really.

It is precisely the tactic they use - character assassination by innuendos - plotted and planned - they know they don't have to be factual, they just need to repeated it over and over and over again. The fact the Trump openingly fabricates statement after statement is accepted as an "it's only Trump being Trump" or he's just being sarcastic - but if Hillary Clinton is perceived as not covering or disclosing an entire issue she's lying. The fact Republicans have had to rely on manufactured falsehood shows the composition of their own shallow character. I've seen war, I've owned businesses, I've done budgets, I've seen those who boast of public interests and of self interests ... Trump is a linguistic equivocator of unmatched heights.

Thanks for the very nice article that brings some objectivity to the discussion about Hillary Clinton. I continue to by mystified as to why she is so negatively perceived - she has an excellent track record as a politician and secretary of state, which is not an easy job given some of the international leaders and situations she has had to deal with. Her unpopularity is particularly difficult to rationalize in view of the astounding unsuitability of the Republican nominee, who by any measure is a far worse candidate for president and yet is just slightly more unpopular. I have no doubt that Hillary's sex is a contributing factor, and hopefully she can soldier through, turn things around so that people see the good in her, and win.

Only a few comments:
- I do not feel HC got more negative media coverage than DT or BS, my perception was actually quite the opposite, I felt that the media was always more favorable towards HC than any of the other presidential candidates.
- I do believe HC got off easy on the deleted emails case, another case where HC received preferential treatment. She is guilty by her own admittance and there should be consequences to her actions.
- In both the previous cases, it is not clear to me why she seems to get preferential treatment. What is clear to me is that she does not seem to be getting the short end of the stick based on her sex; I could argue quite the opposite, in fact.
- I do not believe HC is a good presidential candidate. That being said, I do not believe DT or BS are good candidates either. It seems incredible that the US, one of the biggest and most important nations in the world, has put itself in the position where their citizens have to choose between the lesser of two evils for president. In this case, there are independent candidates that might be worth looking into. That is what I plan on doing, because I cannot bring myself to vote for either DT or HC.

That, my dear Deborah, is what we call a straw-man argument. A bunch of them, actually.

I am mystified why people have such a negative perception of her as well. I feel that most of her supporters, are silent, because they do not want to deal with the unwarranted rage of others with a dissimilar opinion. Even in these few comments, Randy has spoke of a "Girls Club," and Deborah has described her as "sly, self-serving and power hungry" and states to be annoyed when someone calls HRC as intelligent. She also brings up clothing costs (who knows or cares about the cost of any politician's wardrobe?). First of all, there is no Girls' Club, never has been, never will be. As a professional woman, I can honestly say that most woman and many men are not supportive of women. We are definitely not given anything. The majority of women got to where they are by earning it, with more of everything: education, experience, and resiliency. HRC is intelligent, in fact 1988 and 1991, she was one of the top 100 influential lawyers in the US, per the National Law Journal. She is powerful and a leader and has been since the late 1980s. She has many humanitarian awards and her service record as Senator and the Secretary of State is exemplary. You can contend whatever you would like, but the constant rewriting of history is getting tiring. She is by far the most educated, experienced candidate, who happens to be a woman.

The fallback plan of voters to vote for the lesser of 2 evils works in the favor of Hillary regardless of the other usual considerations.

She has to win...God help us if she doesn't.

Thanks for a great article, Sandy. It's so discouraging how irrationally the two candidates are being evaluated by voters. Not only has Trump made it clear that racism is alive and well in America but his being close in the polls proves that sexism is alive and well too (also that many prefer negativity to positivity). Hillary is CLEARLY more qualified in every way. The email controversy is so overstated given the emails weren't marked classified AND Colin Powell gets a free pass. Hillary is judged for staying with cheating Bill twenty years ago, compared to Trump who cheated on and left two wives, plus admits he didn't raise his own children, and is accused of child rape? People (mis)judge the A-rated Clinton Foundation even while there's no evidence that the Trump Foundation actually made donations! The list could go on and on. I hope voters realize the grim message they send their daughters if Hillary loses: that qualifications aren't enough, that nothing is. As Lewis wrote, God help us.

The many faces of sexism are so entrenched and encountered so often that by adulthood many women become blind to it. Some also join the sexist club - like commenting that HC is wearing a $14,000 jacket. The garments of male candidates are ignored, but HC's are, along with shoes, "style", and other nonsense. The FBI, along with a panel of Republicans cleared her on the emails and Powell, etc, had done the same with no outcry. The email narrative - like Benghazi - is just another zombie lie. What matters is her record - she is a business as usual 1%er, advancing the US war machine, promoting globalization and cozy with the Bilderbergs since they anointed Bill as presidential candidate over 20 years ago. The GOP candidate is such a sociopath that the US military and intelligence services have proclaimed him unfit for office. Will millions vote for for him anyway because he's male? Absolutely. Would Jessica Trudeau have been elected last year if Justin was born female? I wonder.

Trump is a charlatan, certainly. However, he was smart enough to understand that working class Americans are angry—furious, actually. They know their politicians helped send good jobs out of the country. They also know some people who were able to find replacement jobs but at much lower wages working for Wal-Mart. They know that Wall Street bankers got baled out and main street got shafted. So how in the heck is someone like Hillary Clinton who sat on the board of Wal-Mart and gave speeches to Goldman Sachs supposed to tap into the real, deep, and growing anger of the working class? At Wal-Mart she earned over $25,000 a year in fees and stock for attending up to 4 meetings a year. How does that stack up against a regular Wal-Mart worker? Her minimum speaking fee was $250,000 and, according to CNN, between 2013 and 2015 she made over $20 million speaking to Wall Street. She used to taunt Trump for not showing his tax returns while stubbornly refusing to show us—the people—what she told Wall Street in her secret speeches. What did she say to them that made them happy to pay her $20 million? You really think this is not viewed as corruption by America’s blighted working class? You really think they should see her as “the most qualified candidate in history?”

Yeah, she was the “most qualified candidate ever” for the neo-liberal agenda, the Walton family of multi-billionaires, and the rentier class on Wall Street. Some qualifications. Some candidate. Trump’s worse but she is NOT on the side of working people. We need columnists who are willing to tell the truth.

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