The High Ground

THE HIGH GROUND….Hillary whipped out the gender card again last night. “What does Hillary want?” she asked, evoking Freud’s plaint.

In hanging on, she fuels stereotypes of women: don’t know how to play the game, bitchy and ungracious. It’s the softer stereotypes she has eschewed. Those who need the stereotypes will find them, either way.

Any of us who have done anything with our lives have faced these apparent no-win tradeoffs. The stakes are higher, and the sexism more unrelenting, the higher you go.

But trading on the stereotypes and the sexism others display has its limits as a strategy. It too easily sounds like whining, itself a stereotype.

Hillary’s speech last night was spin. Don’t say the forbidden words (Obama has the delegate count); pretend that you’re the winner and your voters are being disenfranchised. Sometime in the last decade or so, spin became a substitute for reality.

There’s a tactic that was once used in politics: seize the high ground. Spin is a corruption of that: seize what appears to be the high ground. Or: make what you’ve managed to seize appear to be the high ground.

But there’s a real high ground, made up of grace and generosity, accepting reality. Most of us can see it unless we’re blinded by the glare of chutzpah. It raises one’s own status, along with the tenor of the conversation. It’s available to women and men, both.

We can hope that Hillary will seize the high ground this week.

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