Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hillary Clinton: 'Tough Enough' To Be President - But Is She 'Soft Enough'?

Never mind all the naysayers, a recent poll - Westhill/Hotline poll - finds that 86% of Americans think women are "tough enough to be President of the United States." And 85% have "a willingness to cast a ballot for a well qualified woman presidential candidate."

When the choices are Clinton and Rice, thankfully Hillary Clinton comes out ahead.

Fully 58% say Clinton is 'tough enough,' while only 46% feel that way about Rice.

This must be the sort of 'mexed missage' our dear leader has spoken of. I'm happy to hear that more people are comfortable with the thought of a woman president than they have been in the past, but can we please reframe the question?

If we're going to use yesteryear's stereotypes to assess a woman's chances at the White House, then how about a little gender fairness in the stereotypes?

Can we please have a poll asking if the male candidates are 'soft enough' not to strut around the world stage in macho dress-up insulting and ostracizing everyone who disagree with them?

Can we please have a poll asking if the male candidates are 'soft enough' to be above making enemies and insulting girls, women and others by calling people names like 'girly-men' and 'evil-doer'?

Can we please have a poll asking if the male candidates are 'soft enough' to promote a public policy that benefits someone other than the greedy and obscenely wealthy?

Can we please have a poll asking if the male candidates are 'soft enough' to refrain from proving their manhood by invading countries without provocation and dropping bombs on the innocent?

And finally, can we please have a poll asking if the male candidates are 'soft enough' and brave enough to promote women's equality?

A nod to Political Wire

The Washington Monthly has a very persuasive article about Hillary Rodham Clinton's chances at the White House; it addresses the many naysayers from the left.

Why Not Hillary?

She can win the White House.

If you “know” Clinton can't be president, you're a member of the Washington in-crowd. If you don't, you're an outsider, some boob from the sticks of, I don't know, Sacramento or somewhere. Suburban Chicago, maybe. You know the rap: She's too liberal, too polarizing, a feminist too threatening to male voters. Too much baggage. Too. . . Clinton.

And these are Democrats talking. Bizarrely, the party's insiders are going out of their way to tear down the credentials and prospects of one of their rare superstars. Conservative columnist Robert Novak ran into this phenomenon recently while speaking to eight local Democratic politicians in Los Angeles. Novak told them matter-of-factly that Hillary was the odds-on favorite to be their party's 2008 nominee—and that no one was in second place. Novak was surprised by their reaction: Not one was for Mrs. Clinton. Why? “They think she is a loser,” said one of the Democrats.

With some exceptions, the journalistic pack seems nearly as negative about Hillary Clinton's chances. I'm a charter member of an informal lunch group of writers who runs the gamut from conservative to liberal, and each month when we meet, Hillary's name arises. Around the table it goes: She can't be elected in a general election; men aren't willing to vote for a woman like Hillary; women don't think much of her marriage—or her, for staying in it; which red state could she possibly carry? What swing voter would she convince? Each month, I marshaled my arguments in favor of Hillary's candidacy, until finally I began sparing my friends the whole rap by just noting—for the minutes of the meeting, as it were—that I disagree with them.

Perhaps my lunch mates, those worried activist Democrats, and the majority of Washington pundits are correct. But I don't think so. . . .

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