Clever, those ancient Greeks. They gave us art, literature, philosophy and the notion of a more perfect form of government. They gave us a language ripe for the picking. Greek prefixes, Greek root-words: “demos” (people), “kratos” (power). Power to the people. What a word! What a concept! What’s not to like?
They also gave us the hystera/hystero prefix– which means uterus. Hysterectomy. Problems with a pesky womb? If it offends you, cut it out. Not a bad thing. But there’s also hysteria. You know, that hollering and screaming thing. Tantrums. Panic attacks. General emotional mayhem. And, for too many lo-o-o-ong centuries, the female’s uterus was the definitive root of all disorganized behavior and thought. The womb made us a tad too flaky to be trusted to do more than have babies, cook and clean. Uterine mood swings and all. It’s been a man’s world.
Hysteria has become an equal opportunity malady in modern times. These days men can be hysterical, too. And those Bad Boys–the ones with all the power and big guns– can whip up a climate of hysteria any time they really need one. Dubya and his cronies have mastered the art. Saddam. Al-Qaeda and Saddam. WMD from Basra to Tikrit and the imminent threat of mushroom clouds poisoning every peace-loving U.S. citizen if we didn’t invade ASAP, overthrow that madman with his fat finger on the nuke button and create a shiny, new America-loving Iraq. Quick-like. No time to think. Or ask any questions. They’ve kept us in line every step of the way by scaring us to death. Hysteria works.
The Clinton campaign seems to be sinking into hysteria mode lately. When Barack Obama said Bush’s “zero-diplomacy unless I really like you” policy is a poor approach, that he would be willing to begin talking to foreign heads of state, good guys or bad, within the first year of an Obama presidency, Clintonistas went ballistic. Manic. Menopausal. Suddenly the very idea of diplomacy, of open negotiation, is akin to hopping into bed with a harlot after strangling your wife. Clearly, Obama is too stupid to be president. Naive. Irresponsible. You’d think he must have voted to authorize a dumb, rash war…
Within days the “Obama will even talk to HOLOCAUST DENIERS!” panic pill was being dosed out like methadone at a drug rehab facility. It’s hysterical.
And it’s sad. I’ve always liked Hillary. She’s smart, she’s tough, she’s capable. But I’m mad at her for using the same old Bush-Rovian smear-and-fear tactics when she’s scared she might lose a little ground. She should be ashamed of herself. She should be as sick as most women are of the hystera/hystero prefix and its use as a tool to deny us our rightful places in the world of “rational” men. This PMS-style over-reaction, this deliberate distortion of a rival candidate’s intelligence and his intent, are nothing more than the same peddling of hysteria we’ve suffered for the last 6 1/2 years; it’s Dubya’s “We have to fight them over there so we won’t have to fight them here!” nonsense in make-up and high heels.
It is unworthy of a candidate who says she represents real change. It is especially unworthy of a smart woman who has had to weather the Women’s Rights Wars. The marketing of hysteria for expedience, for ambition, is beneath a strong candidate for the highest office in the land. It smacks of the same old dirty politics-as-usual.
Senator Obama has said–more than once–“We [Americans] are better than this.” That sentiment should surely apply to Hillary Clinton, a powerful woman who is in a position to further the cause for women’s capabilities trumping their wombs once and for all.
Ms. Clinton, the hysteria mode offends us. Cut it out.