I feel like I should say something about this.
You’ve all seen the video of Hillary Clinton telling a student in Kinshasa, Congo that she doesn’t know what former President Bill Clinton’s view is on a Chinese loan offer to the government of Congo. (See the video on Mark Riley’s site.)
People are criticizing Secretary of State Clinton for snapping, not being poised, even for having a “meltdown.” People are also defending Secretary Clinton by claiming that she was jet-lagged, tired from traveling, etc.
Neither of these responses is very helpful.
First of all, so what if her tone was a little rude by uber-sensitive American standards? Claiming that she was tired might be understandable, but it trivializes the real issue.
Second of all, ignore the fact that the question was translated incorrectly and the student was actually asking about President Obama and that it was sorted out later, because Secretary Clinton didn’t know that at the time. She didn’t say this exactly, but she’s right: Former President Clinton’s view on this issue is completely irrelevant. She is the Secretary of State. She represents our nation on these matters. To ask her for the opinion of the President (or a former President) is to not recognize her as a diplomat.
Hillary Clinton has been in politics for decades, it’s no wonder at this point that she interpreted that question as sexist. Of course she was offended by it. I think the pseudo-question was kind of inappropriate and quite possibly sexist, but it’s the media response that is really the most disturbing part of all of this. Isn’t it always?
People are so unsympathetic to Clinton it’s almost comical at this point how deeply in denial this country is of its sexism. I get that some people just don’t like Clinton’s politics, maybe her personality rubs people the wrong way, but what seems obvious to me is that we just notice different things about women than we do men and still pretend we don’t. Clinton’s wardrobe scrutiny is one obvious example, but I also cannot recall hearing anyone accusing a male politician of sounding like a bitch, or that his tone sounded too harsh, or his response too sharp, or for having a “meltdown.” There are behavioral double standards that we refuse to acknowledge.
And yes, people recently criticized President Obama for using the word “stupidly,” but that scrutiny was different. It was his word choice that was at stake, not his delivery. Never mind the fact that his word choice wasn’t exactly incorrect, that entire situation was the exact opposite of calm and rational.
Will anyone come to Hillary Clinton’s defense? Will anyone acknowledge that it is patronizing to ask her a question about her husband’s opinion while she is on duty as Secretary of State? If someone wants the opinion of the former President, they can ask him.
No, of course not. This incident isn’t going to open a dialogue about sexism. She’ll just be accused of not being up for the job, of over-reacting… in short, of being a woman.
 Which is absolutely ridiculous, but that’s the term they used on “Inside Edition.”
 The actual question being asked about our acting President was not exactly inappropriate, though if the White House had an official position on the issue, Secretary of State Clinton is the one to ask.