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Hillary Clinton
Friday, 2007 December 7 - 10:00 am
Well, it's getting close to the first primaries and caucuses, and look! I haven't posted my analysis of the candidates yet. So I'll start a series of articles, starting with this one, about Hillary Clinton.

I'm going to start by saying that I usually call her Hillary, like most people do. And right off the bat, that bothers me a little bit, because in our patriarchal society, we tend to call women by their first names and men by their last names. The other candidates aren't known as "John, Barack, and Dennis"; it's "Edwards, Obama, and Kucinich". But we're kind of forced to call Clinton "Hillary", to distinguish her from her famous husband.

That kind of leads me to the main point of this article, and that's this: No matter how gender-neutral most people claim to be, it's hard to imagine that their view of Hillary is not in some respects tinted by the fact that she's a woman. And there's something profoundly wrong about that.

I read somewhere recently that 92% of Americans "would" vote for a woman for President, if she were qualified. I have two problems with that. First, that means that 8% of Americans, one out of every 12 people, roughly 18 million people of voting age, would not vote for a woman. And then there's that tag, "if she were qualified". What makes a woman qualified to be president? Are the criteria different than those used to judge men?

I imagine this conversation with the typical Joe Q. Voter:

Would you vote for a woman for President?
"Sure, as long as she's qualified."
Qualified? Like who?
"Umm..."
Hillary Clinton?
"No, she's a bitch."
Nancy Pelosi?
"Also a bitch."
Condoleeza Rice?
"Not forceful enough."
Elizabeth Dole?
"Ditto."
Blanche Lincoln?
"Who?"
Kay Bailey Hutchinson?
"Reminds me too much of my grandma."
Lynne Cheney?
"Dick's wife? Seriously?"
Tipper Gore?
"Bitch."
Madeleine Albright?
"That old bat?"

And so on. There seems to always be a reason to exclude women that you name specifically, even though people claim not to have a general bias against women.

So who would you vote for?
"Jessica Alba."
She's qualified?
"Qualified to get naked with me, heh heh heh."

It's the "bitch" tag that bothers me the most. Here's a phrase I hear and read a lot: "I'd vote for a woman, but not that bitch Hillary." With one word, Hillary is put into a stereotypical category of powerful, cold-hearted, conniving women whose sole aim is to destroy their poor male victims, like a praying mantis who eats her mate.

If you don't think that phrase is offensive, try this one on for size: "I'd vote for a black person, but not that nigger Al Sharpton." I think throwing the word "bitch" around at women is just about as offensive, and yet, most people do it without a thought.

And here's the funny thing: Republicans seem to think that Hillary winning would be the absolute worst outcome in 2008. But Hillary might be the most conservative candidate in the Democratic field. She was once a Republican, in her early college years. She distanced herself from the Republican party as she found it to be lacking in compassion, but we should note her record in the Senate often shows her to be in favor of tax cuts and military action.

The main reason people think of her as an extreme liberal is probably because of the health care plan she championed while she was First Lady. "Hillarycare" came to be synonymous with socialized medicine, and that is absolute anathema to Republicans.

And because of that, whenever she takes a conservative position on an issue, she's seen as dishonest and politically motivated. And that's when we hear things like "she's a lying, conniving, power-hungry bitch."

Now let me see: are you making that judgment in comparison to all the politicians you know, or in comparison to your mother, your wife, your sister, and all the other warm and cuddly women you know? I know of very few politicians who aren't conniving and power-hungry, especially among those who are running for President. Isn't a Presidential candidacy the very height of power-hungriness?

For me, I'm a little divided about Hillary. On the one hand, I think she's perfectly qualified to be President, and I'd vote for her over any Republican in the field, especially if it would tweak Joe Q. Voter. On the other hand, it's her conservative side that bothers me, including her willingness to support the war in Iraq, and possible military action against Iran.

Until recently, it was almost a foregone conclusion that she'd be the Democratic nominee. But she's been attacked on all sides, by her Democratic rivals for being too conservative, and by her potential Republican opponents for being too liberal. (If she fights back, she's a "bitch"; if she doesn't, she's a "victim". It's almost a no-win situation, and yet she manages to persevere. That is admirable in itself.)

So now she finds herself in a tight race with Obama... and you can bet that if Obama gains some traction, nervous Democrats will be quick to drop Hillary, fearing her as a liability on the ticket. Because when all is said and done, America probably isn't ready for a woman President. And that's really sad.
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Posted by Ken in: politics

Comments

Comment #1 from Jenn (Guest)
2007 Dec 7 - 3:30 pm : #
I'm sort of up in the air about Hilary, myself. I would vote for her against any Republican, but it's her conservative side that bothers me, too.
Comment #2 from Brett (Guest)
2007 Dec 7 - 4:45 pm : #
I think that's what worries me about that bitch. No one seems to have her back on anything.

Strikes me that with her we'd see something similar to the results of George Bush; where as in the end all the Republicans will use her as to why Dems shouldn't be in office and all the Democrats will stay away from her with the "the rest of us aren't like that" attitude, and in the middle is just a bunch of pissed off people who were either bitter since the beginning of her presidency and never gave her a chance or jumped on the anti-Hillary bandwagon because they're afraid to speak up for her, for fears that everyone will persecute them (i.e. watch how people that say "I support(ed) Bush" are treated by other people).

The next result is everyone waiting for 4 years to be up, bitching the entire time about how the current administration is responsible for every problem we've had for the past 40 years; which just furthers the gap with extreme Dems and Repubs, making moderacy that much harder to come by.

Not that I wouldn't support her, if elected, it's just...I don't know if I can take another term of the radicals out there, from either side.
Comment #3 from Brett (Guest)
2007 Dec 7 - 4:46 pm : #
P.S. I couldn't resist on the "bitch" thing.
Comment #4 from Noelle (Guest)
2007 Dec 11 - 9:18 am : #
I wonder, from an international/historic perspective, do we automatically think of Margaret Thatcher as a bitch? She seems too powerful for that moniker.
Comment #5 from Ken (realkato)
2007 Dec 11 - 10:34 am : #
Or perhaps, too British.

Comments are closed for this post.
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