Hillary Clinton called North Korea an attention junkie in an interview this week -- a country that most recently loaded missiles onto the back of a ship and cruised around like the Love Boat. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry responded: "We cannot but regard Mrs. Clinton as a funny lady as she likes to utter such rhetoric, unaware of the elementary etiquette in the international community. She looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping." Ouch. That must really hurt, being lectured on “etiquette” by people who routinely administer nuclear enemas to Mother Earth.
As Margaret Thatcher used to say: “When they attack one personally, it means they haven’t a single argument left.” The phenomenon cuts across all ideology. It’s not a right/left question, it’s an effective/ineffective question. And effective women in politics get attacked far more frequently than men based on looks and personal factors that have nothing to do with their job or ability. North Korea has been problematic since Hillary’s husband was the US President, but I have yet to find any statements by North Korea during the Bill Clinton administration that says: “President Clinton is an oversexed buffoon who needs to turn off the cheeseburger tap. Nyah!”
Women at the top of the political food chain aren’t men in a skirt, and didn’t kiss up to “the patriarchy” to get to where they are, as feminists often argue to justify their own failures. While they don’t go out of their way to alienate men -- because someone like that would have a tough time getting along in ANY workplace -- they tend to be more feared than liked…and they don’t really care. Nor do they have to. Respect is more important than likeability among the creatures of the political sewer.
Hillary Clinton hardly landed her Secretary of State gig as a result of kissing the Obamabehind. I think he would have been hard pressed, in the wake of a pretty bitter presidential race, to find an opponent who kissed up less than she did. In fact, the appointment almost makes him look masochistic. But the bottom line is that Clinton is competent, and probably deeply feared. As with the world of dating, it’s a good thing for men in politics to have a healthy fear of a woman. Men generally respect what scares them. Obama has good reason to believe that Hillary Clinton is quite capable of the political equivalent of taking a baseball bat to his car.
The ideal formula for women in politics is to be respected and somewhat feared by their male colleagues, but liked by voters. This balance is easy enough to achieve if one is in possession of a rare thing called a “backbone,” as the case of 32-year old French Secretary of State, Rama Yade, proves.