Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Pictures make a difference

I offer the picture on the far right (whoever would have put her there!) from the Politico site to show that there is at least one flattering photograph of Hillary Clinton circulating out there somewhere. Wouldn't you rather vote for this candidate than for the one we keep seeing on the evening news?

....And I offer on the left this version of the Somali-outfit pictures (I got it off The Scotsman website) to show that a picture of Barack Obama can be unflattering. It's not the clothes he's wearing, by the way, that make him look foolish here. It's the goofy grin on his face. At least when Obama gets visually skewered he still seems likable, if not particularly authoritative.

By the way, and this is no great insight, Clinton is most likable when she is least authoritative.


Richardson's Endorsement: Who Cares?

One of the web sites -- Huffington Post or Politico, I think -- is reporting that Bill Richardson will be announcing his endorsement in the Democratic primary by this Friday.


Does anybody care any more? Back when Richardson first dropped out of the race, Hillary Clinton was ahead, John Edwards was still viable and Barack Obama was gaining fast. How fast he was gaining was not yet obvious. There were a couple of weeks there when everyone really wanted to know which candidate Richardson would back.

Some people saw him as a valuable spokesman for the Latino voting bloc. Latinos -- Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, Argentine, Dominican and Spanish-Americans among others too numerous to list -- don't actually vote as a bloc. But that's another story. Some people saw him as a significant bellwether for influential former Clintonites. Lots of people cared what he might be thinking.

Bill Richardson wasted that time. He watched the Super Bowl with Bill Clinton. He grew a beard and renewed his devotion to his pet causes here in New Mexico, where he is still governor. It looked then and continues to look like he is trying to stay friendly with all the candidates, in order to preserve his shot at a cabinet appointment from the eventual nominee.

In my case, since I had contributed a couple of bucks to his campaign, I was still on the email list. One missive carried the tagline "Richardson poised to make endorsement." I opened the letter. It was a request for more money to help retire his campaign debt.

I was suddenly receiving emails from Lt. Governor Diane Denish, who was endorsing and aggressively supporting Hillary Clinton. Gee, I'm registered as a Republican, so how could they possibly have gotten my name? Maybe from the Richardson campaign?

It makes a lot of sense that Denish would support Clinton for her own reasons; they are both women, they share many political views and Clinton is popular among New Mexico Democrats. To me, though, it looked like part of Denish's support was as a stand-in for Bill Richardson. After all, she'd been doing his work as acting governor while he was off campaigning for president. They have long made an effective team working together.

The only evidence I have is my sudden appearance on the mailing list. That's not persuasive, because my support of Richardson got my name on many Democratic lists. I guess I really need to be more careful to whom I give my email address.

I am delighted at the possibility of having two great nominees -- McCain or Obama -- to choose from in the general election. Richardson was my original choice, but I don't care who he endorses any more. Does anybody?


Tuesday, February 19, 2008


What is so feminist about Hillary Clinton?

Okay, here is my obligatory disclaimer. I don't dislike, let alone hate, Hillary Clinton. I didn't vote for her husband, but that was because I preferred the men he ran against. I am after all a moderate-to-liberal Republican. Yes, Ann and Rush don't want you to know this, but we exist. Although I never went out of my way to watch or listen to her either as first lady, senator from a state I don't live in, or presidential candidate, I found her intelligent, sympathetic and dryly funny, if somewhat unimaginative.

Her background is similar to my own, although she followed most of the rules that I did not, like doing her homework and graduating from college in four years instead of staying up late drinking, and attending a prestigious law school instead of working at a series of poorly paid jobs. Then again, she has to borrow anecdotes about employment and housing insecurity from others, while I have got plenty of good stories of my own. I'm not saying she doesn't know how it feels to be poor, but I bet she never had to decide whether to buy groceries, put gas in her car or pay for her daughter's school field trip.

Whether I like her or not, though, isn't the point. What I want to know is, how did Hillary Clinton become the standard-bearer for feminists? I'm sorry, but that is sort of like saying the two doubting Thomases -- Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas -- are the natural heroes of civil rights. After all, they are black. Excuse me, African-American.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is a woman, and she may well espouse a genuinely feminist view of life. If so, she hasn't acted on that view. There is no point in her biography where she gave anything up in order to be true to her feminist ideals. Quite the contrary. She made the choice years ago to put her own aspirations on hold in order to marry a man she really loved and help him attain his hopes. There was nothing wrong with that choice. Feminists who came before her helped clear the way for it. Her husband's successes, in which she was clearly and closely involved, enabled her to pursue a career of her own. She never had to put a roof over her head or quit a job to be there for her daughter. That's all fine.

Clinton may well be qualified to be president of the United States. I'm not sure she is any better qualified than my congresswoman, Heather Wilson, who served as an Air Force officer and held positions of authority in state government before being elected to congress as a moderate Republican. Wilson's career has certainly never depended on her husband; I'm not even sure what his name is or what he does for a living. I have never heard her call herself a feminist, and she faces a tough fight every other year to be re-elected in a state and a district that is by no means solidly Republican. In other words, she'd use it if she thought it would help.

To be fair, I've never heard Clinton call herself a feminist either. That's left to people like Gloria Steinem and Erica Jong, who have now used up any shred of credibility they had to argue -- what? That women who vote for Obama, or God forbid McCain, have no self respect? That those who choose to vote differently want to hold back all members of our gender? Give me a break. I know plenty of women who voted for Clinton in the primary because they agreed with her positions on the issues. I'm sure some if not all of them were also influenced by her being a woman. Sure, it's a factor, but only one factor.

I don't agree with her positions on the issues, and I don't think she has the mental and emotional flexibility to be a good president. There are woman out there who do possess the flexibility and imagination to be leaders of the free world, like Patricia Schroeder and Janet Napolitano, and there are men who do not, most notably George W. Bush. That's my choice; it's an informed choice and it has nothing to do with gender. I know all about painful choices, having voted for Al Gore in 2000, enthusiastically, and for John Kerry in 2004, reluctantly. Others are free to choose differently, and I will not accuse them of betraying any group they belong to by birth or by background.

One more thing. If Hillary Clinton's campaign had been based on a true and honest assessment of her life story, she might have lost the votes of the knee-jerk identity mongers. But we will never know how many eventual Obama supporters she could have won over if she'd said the following: "I stood to the side for years while ideologues and other unreasonable men made decisions that weren't good for the country. It's my turn now, and I'm finally getting the opportunity to implement the real solutions that the men never had the courage to try." Instead, she ran as a version of the woman-behind-the-man, on unverifiable stories of her experience as co-governor and co-president with her husband.

Where is the feminism in that story?


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