Friday, November 02, 2007

Hillary Clinton and the Gender Card

There's a good bit of talk in the media about Hillary playing up her role as a woman and how tough it is and she is, etc. To her credit (although this is political subterfuge at its best - candidate denies what the campaign is doing under the covers), she stated:

“I don’t think they’re picking on me because I’m a woman, I think they’re picking on me because I’m winning,”

Of course, she followed that comment up with this one:

“I anticipate it will get even hotter — and if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. And I’m very comfortable in the kitchen.”

The "issue" at hand is that her campaign is hitting back at the fact that in Tuesday's debate, everyone seemed to gang up on the frontrunner. Not that there is anything unusual about it. In fact, what was more unusual this cycle is that no one seemed to be broadsiding the frontrunner. Now that they have, the Clinton campaign has been acting all put out and pouty like a cheerleader who missed out on being selected Prom Queen. (Sorry, couldn't help myself. HRC started mixing metaphors with the kitchen comment.)

There's more to this story and you can read a summary here. But I won't go into more details about the specific comments made because it's not terribly important to my point.

My point is, the Clinton campaign, and HRC to a certain extent, is doing their best to remind everyone that Clinton is a woman making a historic push to be the first woman president. Any denial of that central fact belies credibility. So, when someone says that HRC is not playing the "gender card" that smacks of over Hillary-love and can't be respected as an independent opinion.

The issue of whether this is justified or not is a different story. To some extent the Obama campaign has been playing politics with his race as well. (I have no means to measure which card is "more" in play, race or gender.) And I believe this to be the natural evolution of American politics as distasteful as it is. The bottom line is until we have a woman and black president, the gender and race issues will be in play given the American obsession with firsts.

So in this sense, I don't blame either candidate. But, I do take offense to the Clinton campaign acting so put off by it all. Obama said it best,

"Mr. Obama then said that he had not introduced race into a Democratic debate in Iowa. “We spent, I think, the first 15 minutes of the debate hitting me on various foreign policy issues,” Mr. Obama said. “I didn’t come out and say, look, I’m being hit on because I look different from the rest of the folks on the stage. I assumed it was because there were real policy differences there.”

(Note: I am already on record as opposing Hillary as the candidate. Not only do I like Obama much more, but I hate the idea of political dynasty in the US and I find her stance on Iraq and Iran naive at best, dangerous at worst. Nor do I think we should nominate a candidate on percieved electability - which is the crux of the HRC campaign. In other words, take what I say with that specific lens in mind.)

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