Monday, May 19, 2008

The Gender Agenda

"If many of Mrs. Clinton’s legions of female supporters believe she was undone even in part by gender discrimination," the New York Times asks today, "how eagerly will they embrace Senator Barack Obama, the man who beat her?"

The question underscores how crucial it is for Democrats to untangle the issue of what derailed America's first woman president from what seemed her clear path to the White House only a year ago. Was Hillary Clinton's campaign undone by the message or the messengers?

In the latter category, Sen. Clinton, although she bears ultimate responsibility, was clearly hampered not only by her husband but hot-shot strategist Mark Penn, who failed to see that voters would be turned off by a play-it-safe campaign fueled by what looked like a sense of entitlement. (They overlooked the lesson of what Harry Truman did to Thomas E. Dewey in 1948, a "sure" year for Republicans.)

"When people look at the arc of the campaign, it will be seen that being a woman, in the end, was not a detriment and if anything it was a help to her,” presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin points out. Her candidacy faltered as a result of “strategic, tactical things that have nothing to do with her being a woman.”

No matter how true that may be, and even if they accept its validity, that will bring cold comfort to millions of women who have so much hope invested in what Hillary Clinton calls breaking "the highest and hardest glass ceiling" in American life.

All other calculations aside, and there are many, this frustration has to be taken into account in Barack Obama's choice of a running mate. With consideration and without condescension, the potential first African-American President has to think long and hard about the symbolic and practical value of breaking through American prejudice with two for the price of one.


Larry Jones said...

I am horrified by the number of people calling in to liberal radio talk shows saying they will vote for McCain unless Senator Clinton wins the nomination. Today I heard a woman say that the VP slot isn't good enough, either. Hillary gets to be President or everything can go to hell. I think possibly the division sown by the likes of Lee Atwater (see "Willie Horton") and Karl Rove has made it seem normal to act in this petty, pouty manner. Whatever is causing it, it's the one thing that could send John McCain the the White House this year.

These people who say they don't care will then be looking at more war, more corporate welfare and tax cuts for the rich, a Supreme Court packed for a generation with Clarence Thomases and Sam Alitoes, further erosion of civil liberties within our boundaries and the complete scorn of the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

I am horrified by the number of people calling in to liberal radio talk shows saying they will vote for McCain unless Senator Clinton wins the nomination.

Personally, I doubt the legitimacy and authenticity of some of those callers. There are always some psyop maneuvers going on with callers to talk radio, and with commenters on the Democratic Underground and Free Republic sites as well.

I suppose that some supporters may really feel that way, but I'll be damned if I can figure out the logic and the internal consistency of such a response. It's spiteful, which of course is always fun, but it's also self-defeating, which is just stupid.

I think it's unlikely anyone concerned with the policy aspects of this election would respond this way; however, such a response seems likely by voters who have gotten suckered into the American Idolization aspects of our presidential campaigns.

Anonymous said...

Only a man could have written that gender had nothing to do with the way this primary election has been run , and seriously missed the larger picture . If this were a man in this close the a race; the expectation would be for him to take it to the convention and fight it out to the last count of delegates... but Hillary should gracefully step aside and let the man have it without a fight , lest she harm the party or the nominees chances of winning ??? Stepping aside would be viewed as a sign of weakness , for a man ...
The DNC has already so irreparably harmed this party that it may never recover , but somehow the blame for that falls on Hillary as well ...Amazing