Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thinking about Hillary Clinton

By Nancy Jane Moore

The Washington Post reports today that Hillary Clinton is leading in the polls because women support her.

I'm not one of those women.

As a feminist, I cannot help but be delighted by the prospect of a woman president. And I find many things to like about Hillary Clinton. She's very intelligent and has accumulated a wealth of experience over the years. Even though she's a moderate at best -- not the liberal painted by the right wing blogosphere -- she is, by word and deed, an advocate for women's rights.

Of course, she is also ambitious and aggressive -- even ruthless -- in her pursuit of the presidency. But so are all her opponents: You don't get elected president in this country without wanting the job very badly and being willing to break a few eggs on the way to the White House omelet. And given that the glass ceiling at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is even thicker than the one in the executive suite -- and we all know how hard it is to break that one -- a woman who wants the job must necessarily be both smarter and tougher than her opponents.

Electing Hillary Clinton president would certainly knock down a few more barriers to gender equality in this country -- and in the rest of the world.

But then we come to the Iraq War and national security -- exemplars of Bush's failed foreign policy. And that's where Hillary troubles me.

I know she's backed off from her original support of the Iraq War -- as have so many other people who seemed to think it was a good idea at the time. But even though she keeps calling it "Bush's war" -- which it is -- she hasn't moved away from it as completely as others have. She keeps refusing to apologize for her vote giving Bush the power to go to war.

And then there are reports like this one in The New York Times, in which she is quoted as saying that we are safer than we were before September 11.

I don't feel safer, Sen. Clinton. I feel like Bush's idiotic policies have inflamed people throughout the world and that more and more of them are turning to terrorism. And it isn't just the foreign policy disaster; there are also vast inadequacies in Bush's "homeland security" program -- Hurricane Katrina showed that. If we aren't even prepared for the natural disasters we know are going to happen, how can we possibly be ready for the unexpected?

It troubles me that Hillary feels safer. Plus Barack Obama seems to have a fresh approach, John Edwards has substantial things to say about social justice, Bill Richardson has varied experience, and Al Gore is out there critiquing the very core of our political system. So I find myself edging away from supporting her, no matter how many emails I get from NOW urging me to send money now.

And yet -- and yet -- the other night on the radio I heard thoughtful analysts speculate on the sexism issue. Then there's this editorial in the Des Moines Register, speculating about how sexism is affecting Clinton's rating in the Iowa polls.

It gets my feminist dander up, I confess. How dare anyone even hint that a woman -- especially a woman as bright and experienced as Hillary Clinton -- shouldn't be president just because of her gender? If enough people keep doing that, and especially if they keep doing it in the subtle ways that are hard to quantify, I'm going to find myself mailing her a check despite my qualms.


Diane Silver said...

I'm with you, Nancy. I'm completely torn about Clinton. As a woman and feminist I support her. I even support many of her policies and ideas, but she is soooo moderate, and then there's Iraq. Ugh.

At this point, I don't know what I'm going to do, except that it's time for me to get off my rear and do a lot more research on the candidates. I'm not settled on any of them yet.

It does surprise me, though, that I'm not jumping up and down at the quest of the first truly credible woman candidate for prez.

Justine said...

As a woman and a feminist, I hope she wins.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

Well, I certainly know how you feel, Justine. If the country wasn't in such bad shape from the Bush years, the chance to elect a woman would be my first priority. But I think the next president will need to shake things up drastically to repair all the damage, and I tend to see Hillary as the "business as usual" candidate.
I find myself leaning toward Obama, both because I'd also like to see an African American president and because I think he has a new approach. And I must say, I think Al Gore is dead on in his critique of the system.
But the really good thing is that we have good choices -- not just lesser evil choices -- and don't have to make up our minds just yet!