HILLARY AND FEMINISM. I've promised my eleven-year old daughter that I would take her to see Hillary's Clinton's inauguration if she's elected in 2008. Why? Hillary being elected president would be an almost sacred moment in the history of women in the United States. Given that my daughter is going to be a woman someday, I'd want her to see Hillary's inauguration because it would be such an inspiring moment--a big culmination of the struggle for female equality that's been going on here since Anne Hutchinson in the 1600's.But the feminist connection is a big part of Hillary's problem as a candidate--far bigger than her supposedly stiff public style. Much of the reason that conservatives hate Hillary so much is that she became the public face of the feminist rejection of traditional female roles. When Hillary said that she wasn't a Tammy Wynette "Stand By Your Man" type of woman during her 1992 interview, she made herself into a permanent target for traditionalist hostility. It's bad enough that Hillary was a feminist valedictory speaker and hot-shot lawyer, but she had the nerve to publicly deny the value of traditional roles. My brother-in-law in Louisiana says that the right-wing formula has changed from "God, Gays, and Guns" to "God, Gays, Guns, and Hillary." The fact that Hillary is an exemplary mother and stood resolutely by Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky crisis only made things worse. There's nothing that bigots hate worse than a target who acts contrary to stereotypes.
Feminism is also a key reason why Hillary is the target of so much pro-feminist hostility as well. If there was ever a sell-out, it was Hillary Clinton. It was bad enough that she marrying a skirt-chasing asshole, subordinated her career to his, and put up with all his affairs. But everybody on the left knows that Hillary has sold out much of the promise that women's equality would make politics better and the country as a whole better. Rather than standing up for feminist principle or even standing up for what's right, Hillary Clinton's career has been marked so much by bobbing and weaving, conceding, being beaten, and learning from defeats that she's become just as conservative as a lot of the male Democrats out there. For a lot of feminists and a lot of people on the left, Hillary Clinton is someone who has betrayed them and they're not anxious to see her win the presidency either.
HILLARY AS NATIONAL CANDIDATE. Our Newsweek arrived with a George Will column implying that nominating Hillary would be madness because no sitting Senator and nobody from the Northeast has won the Presidency since Kennedy. But being a Senator from New York doesn't make Hillary Clinton a Northeasterner any more than living in New York makes Sean Hannity a New Yorker. Having been born and raised in Chicago, lived much of her adult life in Arkansas, and resided in Washington for most of the last six years, Hillary Clinton is a woman who should be seen as a person of the nation rather than a person of any particular state. As Dick Morris points out in his otherwise insipid comparison of Hillary and Condoleeza Rice, Hillary has become a national brand. This is also why the curse of being a senator doesn't hurt Hillary either. She may be the junior senator from New York but she's also bigger than the Senate in a way that Bob Dole or John Kerry could never imagine.
NOT REALLY AS LIBERAL. Right now, the press doesn't like Hillary any more than it likes Al Gore. This is partly because Hillary doesn't respect the media any more than George Bush but can't fake a "regular guy" act for the media's benefit the way Bush can. And it's partly because Hillary's a tremendously disciplined campaigner who can deliver exactly the same speech seven or eight times a day. That's the kind of campaigning that is a raging bore for the reporters covering it even if it doesn win elections.However, if the media does warm up to Hillary, the line that will win the election for her is right within its grasp. The line: "she's not really as liberal as everybody thought." Hillary's been stereotyped as a die-hard liberal, but she isn't any more liberal than Bill Clinton and she'll prove it over and over again when people start listening to what she says on the war, flag-burning, health care, and most other issues. If Hillary Clinton is going to win the election, "she's not really as liberal as I thought" will have to be on a lot of voters' lips.