Thursday, February 28, 2008

Continuing the discussion: Can a woman ever be President?

I find myself reflecting on Hillary Clinton and this campaign almost nonstop these days. I know part of me is preparing for her possible loss of the nomination, but it's beyond that. I mean, I have a long track record of supporting the underdog, so it's not like I'm not used to losing. I started out with Denis Kucinich, after all. And besides, I'm a Baltimore Orioles fan. Even the Boston Red Sox have won the World Series more recently than we have!

No, it's more about the way this potential loss is happening that's bothering me. And I know I'm not alone, because I keep finding essays by much better writers than me saying the same thing. For example, Ellen Goodman:
Something else happened along the way. If Hillary Clinton was the tough guy in the race, Barack Obama became the Oprah candidate. He was the quality circle man, the uniter-not-divider, the person who believes we can talk to anyone, even our enemies. He finely honed a language usually associated with women’s voices.

Today’s shelves are still full of titles—from “Seducing the Boys Club” to “The Girl’s Guide to Being a Boss (Without Being a Bitch)” to “Enlightened Power”—that tell us to act like a man or act like a woman. But in many ways, the transformative, inspirational, collaborative “female” style has become more attractive. Especially to a younger generation. And—here’s the rub—especially when it is modeled by a man.

We have ended up in a lopsided era of change. After all, how many of us wanted to see male leaders transformed from cowboys to conciliators? Now we see a woman running as the fighter and a man modeling a “woman’s way” of leading. We see a younger generation in particular inspired by ideas nurtured by women, as long as they are delivered in a baritone.

So, has the women’s movement made life easier? For another man?

And today that little harpie Maureen Dowd gives a perfect example of this in her New York Times OpEd:

Voters gravitate toward the presidential candidates who seem more comfortable in their skin. J.F.K. and Reagan seemed exceptionally comfortable. So did Bill Clinton and W., who both showed that comfort can be an illusion of sorts, masking deep insecurities.

The fact that Obama is exceptionally easy in his skin has made Hillary almost jump out of hers. She can’t turn on her own charm and wit because she can’t get beyond what she sees as the deep injustice of Obama not waiting his turn. Her sunshine-colored jackets on the trail hardly disguise the fact that she’s pea-green with envy.

On the one hand I feel I've written about this enough and it's time to move on to other subjects. But on the other hand, What the hell is going on with America?! We are dismissing the most qualified candidate in favor of one who has freely admitted that he's not ready to be president, because he can rock a stadium full of young people?

I feel like I'm watching a train wreck in slow motion and there's nothing I can do about it. I just want to shake America's collective shoulders and say "Wake up! Think about what you are doing!"


BAC said...

Excellent post, and thanks for the link.


Sue J said...

Thanks BAC!