Saturday, July 30, 2005

Hillary Clinton


An editorial in the London Guardian suggests, in relation to Hillary Clinton, that the U.S. isn't ready for a woman President. I'm not so sure about that - I will concede that there is more than enough gender bias in this country to make a woman's battle for the White House quite difficult, but I think a lot of the 40% of Americans described in the article as making that assertion are describing what they believe to be the perspectives of others, not of themselves. That is, while 40% of Americans don't believe the nation is ready for a female President, only a subset of that 40% is actually expressing their own unwillingness to vote for a female candidate.

Still, I doubt that Hillary Clinton will be the appropriate candidate. As the article suggests, some on the right get apoplectic even at the mention of the name "Clinton" (let alone when it is prefaced by "Hillary"), and the smear machine is in overdrive. By way of example,
In his vicious new book, The Truth About Hillary, Edward Klein jumps from her alleged promiscuity "Hillary and Vince's love affair was an open secret"; to her supposed frigidity - "Did the Big Girl have any interest in sex with a man?"; to her rumoured lesbianism - "To Arkansas, she walked like a lesbian, talked like a lesbian, and looked like a lesbian."
Modern poitics: Throw lots of mud, anticipate that people will ignore the facts and logical inconsistencies, and see what sticks. Strangely, it seems to work.

But that's fodder for the political "right", which will for the most part vote for the Republican candidate. There may well be something to the notion that all of the smear campaigns against Hillary Clinton will be "old news" by the time of the next election, and that she will have good traction with the "center" / "swing voters". My concern is that, particularly with her attempt to be a centrist Senator, Hillary Clinton will succumb to attacks from the political "left", even from within her own party.

I wonder, also, what surveys would suggest about whether the nation is "ready" for a "non-white President". I don't like to see any qualified candidates excluded from consideration for public office because their parties believe that the nation isn't ready for them due to a biological trait. Let's hope that perceptions don't trump reality, so as to hold back progress.

2 comments:

  1. I don't think Americans are "ready" for a female President. If you ask them, in the abstract, if a woman could be President, most of them will probably say they're fine with that. But finding an actual woman who doesn't manage to trip over a single sexist landmine...good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was thinking about your point, actually, when I contemplated the manner of attack one often sees directed at somebody like Hillary Clinton. It seems like a bit of a cliché, that traits that are excused or even praised in men can be cause for criticism when displayed by women, but within this particular context it also seems to be very true.

    Still, you're old enough to run now, right? You would get my vote. ;-)

    ReplyDelete