Bill Clinton Laments Poor Treatment of Women on AMC's 'Mad Men'

November 12th, 2009 4:31 PM
Former President Bill Clinton was in Chicago yesterday, speaking at a fundraiser on the subject of the current health insurance overhaul.

Somehow, some way, Clinton wound up talking about ethnic diversity, the Fort Hood murders, and – most bizarrely – the AMC network’s “Mad Men.”

Clinton began his descent with the following, quoted from Lynn Sweet’s Chicago Sun-Times blog:
Clinton mentioned the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and tried to tie it into a broader discussion about people of the world respecting each other's differences as he says he sees in Chicago.

"You have people from more than 150 different ethnic and racial groups," Clinton said. "Think about what sparked the tragedy at Fort Hood. Some of the most moving things I have read since the Fort Hood tragedy have been the comments of our Muslim veterans who were horrified by what happened and feel no one will ever trust them again."
I could write reams on the fallacies shot through that last statement.

What does this have to do with the currently proposed health insurance overhaul?  Nothing that I know of, but that’s the beauty of a Bill Clinton speech – sometimes the “cavernous narcissism” takes over, and there’s no telling what you’ll get.

Which is where AMC’s perennial Emmy-winning series ‘Mad Men’ makes its entrance:
Clinton looked out at the diverse crowd and said it was different than a crowd of white men that might be seen on the TV show "Mad Men."

"You ever watch that TV series 'Mad Men?' " Clinton asked. "If I keep watching this program, will I ever find a happy person? Great television. Good drama. But a lot of really painful reminders in that show about how black people were supposed to run the elevators... were supposed to ask permission before they get on an elevator. The way women were treated is appalling, and only occasionally funny to me."
It’s true – Mad Men has an all too-accurate portrayal of how minorities were demeaned in the 1960s.  And it’s also true that women were treated in a way that was appalling by most present-day standards.

But of all the people to point out the bad treatment of women in the 1960s, is Bill Clinton really the right messenger?  And does Lynn Sweet miss the tremendous irony, if this were a conservative?  Let’s face it: Bill Clinton’s Oval Office could have been the basis for any number of the episodes of Mad Men’s misogyny.

Which still has nothing at all to do with health insurance or the proposed overhaul – but has a lot to do with Bill Clinton.