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Hillary is Hermione

 

Sometime over the past few weeks, after the twentieth or twenty-first media expert complained about how careful and studied Hillary Clinton is, how she plans and researches everything, and she’s so boring compared to Trump’s constant impulsiveness, I started to think that Hillary is Hermione, from the Harry Potter books, all grown up.

I was a Hermione as a kid: the smartest girl in the class, asking for extra homework, and hated for it. We have a lot of nasty, derogatory terms for kids who study a lot: grind, swot, egghead, drudge, etc. My classmates wanted less homework and more recess. I found recess, and the freedom to make endless social mistakes, unbearable. Even J.K. Rowling, clearly a Hermione herself, did not believe the world was ready for a smart girl as a protagonist. She guessed, and she was right, that people would prefer to believe that Harry, a boy, and an average student who never tried very hard, was the ultimate hero.

Even when Bill Clinton told their love story, on Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, he focused on Hillary’s oversized glasses and too-big hair, her intelligence and her off putting attitude, instead of her beauty. He was the cool kid, and she was the swot. He didn’t want to work any harder than he had to, and she spent summers volunteering to help those less fortunate. He was more Ron Weasley than Harry Potter, the way he tells it, just without the red hair.

On Monday night, on The Late Show, Steven Colbert finally trotted out a cartoon version of Hillary Clinton to match the cartoon Trump he’s had on staff for months. And his team’s guiding principle in how to create that character seemed to be to assume that she was on the autism spectrum. They may have meant to say that she was two-faced and out of touch, but they managed to portray her as unable to read other people’s emotions, and robotic in her portrayal of her own emotions. It’s an interesting idea. Hillary clearly has had issues fitting in with her peers. She never quite gets the joke. She tries very hard to get social things right and always gets something wrong.

Bill Clinton could be forgiven for having affairs, but Hillary could not be forgiven for having thick ankles, or “cankles.” And then when she wore pants suits to cover those offending ankles, she was criticized for her outfits. She could never find the right hair-do to avoid criticism, or the right clothes, or the right words. And people wonder why she is so private. No, they call it secretive, not private. A man could be private and reserved, but Hillary is secretive and suspicious. A man who thinks he’s qualified to be president is called ambitious and confident. Hillary, for the sin of thinking that she can be a good president, is considered power hungry and out for herself.

Bill Clinton is Teflon. He has had real, proven, character issues and yet people still love him and believe in him. And yet all of his flaws and mistakes stick to Hillary like she’s fly paper. Instead of believing that Hillary loves her husband despite his flaws, people believe that she married him for political gain, and remains married to him for political gain, despite the fact that she would have actually gotten a lot more public praise for divorcing him instead of sticking with him through the Lewinsky scandal. And by the way, why do we call it the Monica Lewinsky scandal and not the Bill Clinton’s penis scandal?

My sense is that, with her awkward social skills, someone like Bill Clinton offers a relief. He does the reaching out. He teaches her how to fit in better; he helps her to relax. No wonder she chose Tim Kaine as a running mate – he does the exact same thing.         But if I had any doubts about Hillary Clinton’s heart, watching Chelsea Clinton’s speech on Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention squashed them. Chelsea loves her Mom, and she is, clearly, deeply loved by her mother.

The question is, can we as a country tolerate a president who is smarter than she is cool? Can we tolerate having a president who has to work at being socially confident? Because there’s no question that she will work her ass off to get things done, and that she has the brain power to do the job. But she’s not Obama, with his soaring rhetoric and self-confidence, and she’s not folksy like Bill or like George W. Bush. Hillary is more like the female version of George H.W. Bush: very serious, studied, hardworking and bright, stiff and careful.

Cricket and Butterfly have not been thrilled with all of the television coverage of the conventions, if only because it keeps them up too late at night. Though, Cricket seemed to be intrigued by Barack Obama’s speech on Wednesday night. She was certain she heard him say “go,” or “out,” or “pee.” She can pick these sounds out of any speech, or just imagine them. But he was talking during prime pee trip time, so that could explain her confusion. Butterfly slept through all of it. She has no interest in speeches or elections or conflict, unless the stress leads me into the kitchen for snacks, and then she’s wide awake and eager to participate. We all have our priorities.

026

“Did he say ‘pee’?”

004

Butterfly didn’t hear a thing.

021

Until there were snacks.

By the way, Butterfly, if she had a chance would be a loyal Hufflepuff, through and through, and Cricket would feel comfortable in Ravenclaw, because she’s very bright, but not especially brave. I’d like to believe that I could be in Gryffindor, like Hermione, and like Hillary, being brave even when it’s the hardest thing to do.

I’m working on it.

001

Loyal Butterfly likes to keep Platypus company when he’s on edge.

010

“I do have claws, Mommy. You will see them very soon.”

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

110 responses »

  1. Wonderful article. Love it!

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  2. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    I love reading the girls’ opinions…..dogs hear what they want to hear even on TV speeches!

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  3. Great post and you have really valid points. Some people just can’t accept it that a girl is so much smarter than a boy. Any country needs a steady, dependable leader. Even I, who’s not American btw, can see that Hilary will be great as president. Anyways, love the pictures, they’re so cute😊

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  4. Great post. Insightful and amusing.

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  5. Bill Clinton may be teflon but no way can he escape sleeping through his wife’s pivotal moment. Hope Cricket’s claws do not make too much of an impression!

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  6. I have never read the Harry Potter books, but every time one was released, I reserved a copy for my son and we spent the night at Barnes & Noble anxiously awaiting midnight when the whole store went nuts as everyone lined up for their copy. This year, we both know we could never stay up that late. Would Cricket and Butterfly want to go with me? They would be the hit of the store in costume. 😀

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  7. Who forgave Bill? Not yours truly.

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    • A lot of people let him slide, back then and now too. My hope is that, if she gets elected, he will retire to the Chappaqua house permanently. I don’t think I’ll get my wish, though.

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  8. Great post. You make very good points comparing female and male politicians. Unfortunately the people who need to sit up and listen don’t seem to want to be informed. They’ve already made up their minds. I think Hillary Clinton is an amazing woman and would make a great president. Sadly as a Canadian I don’t get to vote.

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  9. I always liked Hermione, too. If she were American, she’d make a good president. She’d get us out of the messes the guys get us into.

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  10. Beautifully understanding, remarkably insightful. I always enjoy your writing…always well written essays but I particularly love your flow here

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  11. You need to send this to Hillary directly, she would feel much better after reading it.

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  12. Reasoned and articulate political and social commentary. Just when i never found on television. I’m with Butterfly, wake me when it’s over or when there’s food. I love that last shot showing fuzzy feet. So adorable.

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  13. Great post! Thanks for your insight.

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  14. I see both Hillary and Donald in myself. Like Hillary, I am book smart and make awful mistakes due to a total lack of common sense. Like Hillary, I hope that I can skate by on my smarts and that others will forgive me for my dumb actions. Like Donald, I have a tendency to blurt out what I think. I am not a PC kind of person, and it gets me in trouble a lot. My father always told me “assume a virtue if you have it not,” but I am not good at pretending. This is probably why I don’t write fiction and have no interest in reading the Harry Potter books. Like Donald, I assume that people will forgive me for my gaffes, eventually. Unlike him, however, I am weak and a pansy and usually apologize whether I believe my words or not. I wish I had it in me to be as much of an ass as Donald is. So if you put Hillary and Donald together, you get… me! Sorry, I’m not running for office.

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  15. love this post and the photos that go with it!

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  16. Rachel, Great column on Hillary and on how the society “sees” attitudes, qualities, and traits! Keep up posting the way you do! Thanks so much.
    PS: Any desire from Cricket and Butterfly to talk about Mr. Trump?

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  17. Excellent post with great points!

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  18. Rachel, Rachel, I’ve been thinking what a grand world this would be…if the men were all transported far beyond the northern sea…did you ever know this old folk song??
    Well, I’ve been thinking that this Rachel who writes is a wickedly wise Hermione who totally gets Hillary.
    What a fabulous post – I think one of your best!! Thanks for articulating what I so truly feel about her.
    P.S. Spike and Charly are thrilled the conventions are over – and they are already dreading the debates. 🙂

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  19. Excellent! I will re-post it — to good not to!

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  20. We LOVE Hillary, the most highly qualified, intelligent and well-balanced person ever to run for the presidency of the United States. The bigotry and misogyny underpinning criticism, even hatred, of her are shameful! Go get ’em, Hillary! Your loyal followers, Pip and the boys

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  21. Excellent post. Thanks.

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  22. All of this is true and very perceptive. But I think also there’s a problem because although Hillary’s programme contains a lot of hope, she herself doesn’t exude hope – rather, as you say, caution. John Kennedy was the classic hope candidate (at a time when optimism was easier and fears were easier to ground and understand). Lyndon Johnson had it easy against Goldwater, but in any case, his natural private caution and calculation didn’t overpower his public warmth and optimism. Hubert Humphrey almost won an election that by all the rules he should have lost heavily, because he personified hope. Jimmy Carter was warm and positive before the pratfalls of power made him seem bewildered. Bill Clinton even came from Hope – and his manner, his charisma, his body language were all hope and warmth. Hillary is more like a less wordy Al Gore (but after all, he won the popular vote). Barack Obama was the hope candidate against both Hillary and John McCaine because he spoke rousingly of hope, because of his charisma and because he was new on the national stage and different – and I don’t primarily mean “Black”.

    Trump offers hope and hate all swirled up in a toxic potion. Hopefully enough Americans will see him as Voldemort.

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  23. Thank you for this post Rachel. Hillary as a grown up Hermione – what a very apt description. Never thought of that. The next few months are going to be interesting, that’s for sure.

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  24. Always enjoy your writing and this wonderful post is a favorite!

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  25. Rachel, what a great analogy. To me, this is not an election between the lesser of two evils. It is an election between an apocalyptically bad candidate (and man) who will damage our standing in the global community for the next thirty years, while empowering every hateful bigoted person and group to crawl out from underneath rocks here in the US. Plus, his modus operandi in his business dealings is exploitive.

    There is a clear light of day between him and his opponent who is competent, experienced and globally recognized for her work to reduce the global maltreatment of women dating back to the 1990s. She is not perfect and has been overly protective of her brand when fairly and unfairly criticized, yet many female leaders have had to be protective due to the male bias. Af former WSJ and now Guardian writer who has never been a huge fan, said she believes there is a gender bias against Clinton and argues, if she were a man with her credentials, this would be a slam dunk.

    Yet, let me go back to the global cache she has which should not be undersold. By becoming the first female President, she will elevate the level of hope in women and girls around the world and visibly improve our standing, as opposed to her opponent, who will do the exact opposite.

    So, let’s vote for Hermoine embodied in Hillary Clinton. Keith

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      • Rachel, your Hermoine comparison is creating good dialogue with younger folks. I had one who said he viewed Hillary as slimey. I said she is not perfect, but I would not use that word. When I mentioned all the work she did for kids, he felt that was for show. I was able to counter with and could have gotten a much better paying job, but she chose to help disabled and impoverished kids. The Hermoine hook led to the discussion. Keith

  26. Sheesh, Rachel, as a die-hard HP fan, I am sorely offended on Hermione’s behalf! Teasing…(sort of). This year, I’d take a fictional write-in candidate any day over Lady MacClinton or the orange-haired demagogue. Hermione is in Gryffindor, but Hillary would be in Slytherin. A fictional witch is better than the real witch? Oooo! Going too far? Maybe. My apologies.

    Nonetheless, always enjoy your writing. You made some interesting points. I like your comparison between Bush Sr and HC, tho’ she seems much more charming and comfortable in front of an audience than he ever did (I’d say they are equally corrupt). Keeping in your metaphor (and it’s a stretch to my mind), if HC is Hermione (and it hurts me–it hurts me to say that), then Trump would be He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? Voldemort with a really bad hairpiece? Now, I’m going to have nightmares! We as a nation will have collective nightmares I am sure if Trump-Voldemort manages to ascend the POTUS throne.

    Given the sad choices we have this year, I say let’s make a write-in vote for the tandem of Cricket and Butterfly!

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  27. Even as an Englishman who doesn’t know much about it, this seems an excellent analysis

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  28. Right on point! I never really thought of Hillary this way, but given my own social ineptness — I think you have really brought some super points to light. Thank you!

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  29. While I’m a Democrat, I wasn’t sure about Hilary at first myself for a variety of reasons. I was waffling between her and Bernie. Anyway, I heard a very interesting thing on NPR the other day about her commencement speech from Wellesley…she went off script to because a Black Republican senator spoke before her about not protesting, or at least not doing it the way kids were doing it back then. It was quite bold, esp given she was the first one ever to give a speech at all a graduation! As you can imagine, the administration was pissed, but the students gave her a standing ovation. I guess Hilary has been on the right side for a long time, so you are right….and I feel much better now. Thanks for pointing out so many important things here to me. You once again, do an amazing job with your writing. xo The speech is online BTW.

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  30. 🙂 If only “Hermoine” would make him disappear.

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  31. I don’t know a thing about Harry Potter. I’m way too old. Several of my grandchildren have the books practically memorized. But I do know a thing or two about being shy and an introvert. It can often be quite painful. You nailed the description, and you nailed the choice we will all have very soon. I’m with you.

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  32. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of Hillary. (And I must say, I truly appreciated the line, “why do we call it the Monica Lewinsky scandal and not the Bill Clinton’s penis scandal”?? Brilliant!) Being a woman already puts us a few steps behind on the path of life, and when we catch up, they call us “pushy”.

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  33. Another good one, Rachel!

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  34. Very interesting and well-crafted post!

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  35. Great post, Rachel! Love it. 😉🐶

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  36. Bullseye! Maybe Cricket and Butterfly (you!) should be a political analyst. You really seem to nail this stuff and again, not just because I agree with your point of view. I’m looking forward to more posts about the Quiditch tournament, er I mean election.

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  37. Love it – brave & wonderful to tackle politics!

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  38. Wow, great post, thank you!

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  39. This may be the best analogy I’ve heard all year.

    Never in a million years would the Hillary/Hermione connection have occurred to me, but it’s spot on. It’s every smart kid losing out to the in-crowd kid in every race for class president. Except this is a serious race about serious issues, where picking the smart kid over the guy who thwacks everyone in the butt with a gym towel *should* be the painfully obvious choice.

    I feel for Hillary, like most other class nerds who never could understand or navigate social magic.

    And also wondered, many times, why Hermione wasn’t the hero. She’s the best wizard and the one who figures everything out. I guess it’s sort of covered by the Voldemort connection deal, but even the author knew an explanation was needed.

    Great article. I’d definitely be House Ravenclaw.

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  40. This is one of your best. What passion! Although I am not looking forward to the upcoming pre-election vitriol and drama, I do look forward to more of your insightful political posts. Keep them coming, Rachel

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  41. Wonderful post Rachel. Here’s to all the geeks and nerds out there… BTW, I’d rather be led by Hillary than Coco the clown who keeps tripping over his own tongue.

    Like Hillary’s mom. I sometimes watch FOX, especially when Hillary is being interviewed by Chris Wallace. So Sunday she said somehing like, the FBI director found she told the truth.
    CNN and FOX immediately accused her of lying.

    The truth is after years of digging and spending tax dollars, the FBI, led by a director who was an ally of George W. Bush before he joined the FBI, turned up three controversial emails, which Hillary suggests were classified after the fact.

    But I ask you, after that much scrutiny, and nothing much uncovered and certainly not anything that would be the basis of an indictment let alone a conviction, can anyone EVER be found to have told the truth? Apparently not in the eyes of some. But the FBI concluded that they would not bring a indictment. So is the FBI biased too?

    Ditto the Baltimore Six (Freddie Grey case) or the Ferguson ordeal.

    I hate the trial by media lynch mobs we now see almost daily.

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    • I think Hillary fell into a wording problem there. She was, basically, found not guilty, rather than innocent. We word things that way because we accept that the system is imperfect in determining perfect innocence. Comey basically said that no reasonable person would indict her with so little evidence of intent to do harm, and no evidence of the emails causing harm. Being a lawyer, she could have threaded that needle better than she has done in her interviews. Especially knowing the scrutiny she’s under. But, no one’s perfect.

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  42. I agree with and appreciate your insightful analogy. The quiet workhorses of the world are often overlooked and undervalued. (As a lifelong nerd, I can relate.) It’s a testament to Clinton’s courage, commitment and character that she can keep going in the face of so much unwarranted criticism (putting it mildly). Thanks!

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  43. Just right, Rachel. Thanks for this. And thanks for “swot”–never heard that before. Peace, John

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  44. Reblogged this on Knitting, translating, writing, energy work… and commented:
    One of many great posts from Rachel, this one relevant to all of us, intrigued by the USA election race.

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  45. A typically well written and thought-provoking read! Well done!! And you are spot on regarding a canine’s ability to extract single, key words from everyday speech. My GSD (Qanuk) can get himself totally winded with anticipation if I accidentally let the ‘o’ word (outside) slip during a phone conversation…

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  46. I’m not a fan of either candidate this go-’round, but you certainly made Hillary more endearing with your kind words! I loved this blog post especially how you got your pups in on the action. Great going! 🙂

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  47. I genuinely enjoyed reading this. I wouldn’t have made the connection myself either, and I’m a big HP fan. I’m glad to see you’re not getting trolled on this topic — it’s incredibly sensitive for some voters. She’s a Type A person, for sure! And hopefully will be able to accomplish much, despite prejudice.

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  48. Lovely piece of writing. Your analysis of HC makes sense to me, and anyone who says it’s an equal playing for men and women is just deaf and blind to the way language is used and the deep-seated gender stories we like to think are changing. A woman can’t be too smart, too brusque, too plain or too good-looking, too decisive, too warm, too outspoken, too honest, too rich, too unapologetic, too impatient, and she has to suffer a lot of fools gladly if she wants to hold power. And if she does get there then perhaps the best approach is just go for it and to hell with approval. At least I do get the impression that HC is basically pretty sure of her own ability and not likely to be knocked off course by nasty remarks about her ankles or her pantsuits.

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    • The most frustrating thing I’ve been hearing, from both men and woman, is the characterization of Hillary as “power hungry” when she’s just doing what ALL of the male politicians do. A man who has wanted to be president for years has big dreams; a woman who has wanted to be president for years is selfish and self aggrandizing. Ick.

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      • Yes! We had a recent example of a woman Prime Minister who was torn down in the most vicious way by the shock-jock press and the ugliest thing was the way the general public went along with it – women too.

        Just read an article urging women to carry themselves “with the confidence of a mediocre white male”. Talented women question their own ability, but the mediocre white male never does!

  49. …wow, a kind of black humor(?)…but I like Hermine Granger & Hillary too (!!!!!)
    this thick person from the other party …you find as naked statue in several cities is discredited in all europe… have a good week, my dear author…
    your post is like a moment of glory (!)

    Reply

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