Do Women Want a Woman in the White House?

With 328 days to go until the 2008 presidential elections -- and less than a month before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary -- analysis about Hillary Clinton's status as the first female front-runner is heating up in media coverage. Not surprisingly, one area of dissection is Hillary's appeal to women, particularly working women and moms of all ages, ethnicities and household incomes (working and staying home).

The Wall Street Journal argues that female executives are less than supportive of their alpha female peer. "So far, she's doing better among women of more modest means," writes Monica Langley in a front page Weekend Journal piece, Friends of Hillary. Despite the fact that 40 percent of Sen. Clinton's top fund-raisers are women, and high-profile business women such as Diane von Furstenberg, Meg Whitman and Geraldine Laybourne support Clinton, professional women overall seem to be proving a harder sell. "One theory about Sen. Clinton's weaker numbers among professional women is that more-affluent women aren't as worried about health care, child care, the minimum wage and other issues important to nonprofessionals."

Saturday's front page of the Washington Post and the New York Time's Politics Blog delved into Clinton's focus on women in Iowa and her "take your buddy to caucus" events that have included appearances by Clinton's mom, her daughter, Chelsea, childhood friends, and prominent female supporters such as Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Madeleine Albright and Maryland senator Barbara Mikulski. "Our outreach to women has been based from the beginning on a social networking model," Clinton aide Ann Lewis told The Post." You reach out to your friends, your neighbors, the women you see when you drop off your kids at daycare, and your co-workers."

What's your theory? Are women -- working moms, stay-at-home moms, grandmothers, women too young to have even contemplated work/family issues -- more inclined to vote for Hillary because of her gender? If she were a stay-at-home mom turned presidential candidate instead of a long-time working mother, would she have broader or lesser appeal? Does this "social networking" model resonate more strongly within groups of women than men? In other words, do the political opinions of the women at day care, work and in your neighborhood influence your vote?

Full disclosure: I've contributed to both the Clinton and Obama campaigns.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  December 12, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Moms in the News
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First! Thanks, MN for The Onion clip yesterday.

Posted by: atb2 | December 12, 2007 7:12 AM

I like the thought of a woman in office, but I'm not a huge HR Clinton fan. Actually, I'm not a huge Senator to President fan. W excluded, I think Governors are more suited for the job.

Posted by: atb2 | December 12, 2007 7:15 AM

Speaking for myself, that theory's bogus - I work outside the home in a relatively well-paying job (in which I am at least free from personal concerns about health care and the minimum wage), and I support other Democratic candidates over Clinton because I think they are more committed to issues regarding economic disparity than she is. I trust Obama and Edwards much more when it comes to universal health coverage, increasing the minimum wage and other social issues. I also find her to be uninspiring - she's a better candidate than John Kerry, but so was Jimmy Carter. She's just a regular politician. I'm inspired by Obama and Edwards. I will vote for her if she gets the nomination, but not before then.

Posted by: ladylily21 | December 12, 2007 7:52 AM

Oops - that should have said "health insurance," not "health care" - while my job provides me with health insurance, I don't think anyone can ever be truly free from worrying about health care!

Posted by: ladylily21 | December 12, 2007 7:54 AM

I am professional women and generally consider myself politically liberal. I like the idea of a women being president but I would not vote for HC just because she is a women. I am happy that both Clinton and Obama have real potential. It says a lot about how far we have come as a nation. Just like when Joel Liberman was running for VP. I think that an African American, a women, and person of Jewish descent being able to make it so far says we are really starting to grow in our views as a country. I am not sure about the upper echelon but most professional people that I know are still care a lot about health care, somewhat about minimum wage, and child care. Personally, I liked the candidates on both sides that have zero chance of actual getting their parties nomination. But like in most years, it is picking the lesser of two evils. I would vote for HC before Guiliani, Romeny, or Huckabee.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 12, 2007 7:58 AM

Personally I am no more likely to vote for HRC because of her gender than I am for Obama because of the color of his skin. I think women AND men are smarter than that.

As far as social networking I read the same WSJ article and I interpreted it to be much more about HRC's fundraising strategy. (As in she needs to build a base of high net-worth donors of both genders). I don't consider myself to be polically active and it wouldn't occur to me to try to influence someone else's choice.

Posted by: tntkate | December 12, 2007 8:13 AM

ok, when discussing "studies", you have to first ask the idiot questions:

1. Did they poll a cross-section of women, without first asking whether they identify as Republicans or Democrats?
Because, statistically, upper middle class/rich people are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. So right there you've accounting for why "So far, she's doing better among women of more modest means"--the rich women they asked were Republicans who of course didn't support her, or any other Democratic candidate!

2. Did they present their poll-takers with a blind sheet of issue statements from each of the candidtes, which WOULD reveal whether it's the issues that distinguish their support, or did they simply ask, "Do you support HC?"
In my opinion, women executive are used to carefully modifying their behavior so as not to offend any of the good ole boys on their Boards. HC does NOT carefully, diplomatically approach the good ole boys, and I think female executives are much more aware of the need for that skill than women in lower-paying jobs. Because HC lacks it, or chooses to ignore it, female execs get very turned off by her abrasive personality, because they know how disastrous it would be if they chose to behave that way with their Boards.

Posted by: newslinks1 | December 12, 2007 8:25 AM

"In other words, do the political opinions of the women at day care, work and in your neighborhood influence your vote?"

Nope. And the men don't influence my vote either.

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 12, 2007 8:26 AM

I like HRC, but I think Obama is a better candidate. On the plus side, I think all the democratic candidates are better than all the republican ones.

Also, I think that the conservatives have really villified HRC. They really hate her! The way conservative talk shows talk about her makes me not want her as president because the conservatives will not have an open mind. They'll blame her for everything and bring everything back to her husband, etc. I think they would give Obama a shot.

So in terms of public opinion, I think lots of people's minds have already been poisoned by conservatives about HRC.

Posted by: Meesh | December 12, 2007 8:26 AM

newslinks, those are good points about female execs.

I don't know about you guys, but I wish personality and race and gender didn't play a role in the elections. I wish that all the candidates would just publish a fact sheet with their platforms clearly stated and let voters make their decisions based on that. None of these commercials or "debates" that are really just scripted. The candidates should be largely anonymous. Otherwise it seems like such a popularity contest.

Posted by: Meesh | December 12, 2007 8:33 AM

"In other words, do the political opinions of the women at day care, work and in your neighborhood influence your vote?"

I'm with Chitty on this one -- they never have, and they never will.

Not only that, but I think it's insulting to assume or ask if women will vote for Hillary because she's a woman. To me, that insinuates a stupid knee-jerk response to the decision vs. really seeing if what the candidate stands for resonates with you.

Posted by: Corvette1975 | December 12, 2007 8:36 AM

I'll add to Meesh's point - why do we care so much about the spouses of candidates? We're not electing them!

Posted by: tntkate | December 12, 2007 8:43 AM

Leslie, first a correction: "...high-profile business women such as Diane von Furstenberg, Meg Whitman and Geraldine Laybourne support Clinton,..."

Reading the article (and other literature) reveals that Meg Whitman supports Mitt Romney - vocally, and with a lot of money.

That's not surprising, given that Meg Whitman is CEO of E-Bay and Romney, being a founder of Bain Capital, understands that world very well.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 12, 2007 8:50 AM

A few days ago, the Post online had an issues poll to determine which primary candidate you most closely align with. The candidate I aligned with most closely I hadn't even heard of being in the race. I'm talking 90% of my answers specified this person. I'm not thrilled with any of the front-runners and I am sure I will be gravely disappointed with the choices in the final election.

Posted by: WorkingDad | December 12, 2007 9:08 AM

tntkate: "I'll add to Meesh's point - why do we care so much about the spouses of candidates? We're not electing them!"

Because, like it or not, the spouse of a candidate often has a very big influence on that person, and spouses, especially the spouse of the President of the US, have an opportunity to do a lot, either good or bad. (Not saying that they do; Pat Nixon was the ultimate "shrinking violet" in the role. But look at Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, Hillary Rodhman Clinton herself - like it or not, 'spouse of President' provides its own bully pulpit.)


Again, like it or not, I would tend to think that Elizabeth Edwards (assuming the cancer doesn't slow her down), Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, and Cindy McCain, at a minimum, would all be very activist "first spouses."

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 12, 2007 9:20 AM

Meesh: "I don't know about you guys, but I wish personality and race and gender didn't play a role in the elections. I wish that all the candidates would just publish a fact sheet with their platforms clearly stated and let voters make their decisions based on that."

I've been reading Alan Greenspan's book in my copious amounts of spare time :-) and he makes an excellent point: every candidate has the platform that he or she runs on, and then upon winning faces the real world and adapts to it. Greenspan has worked for every President since Nixon, and knew a few before then, and there's only been one exception to the rule.

So the reason that personality, etc. are important is because, other than a few broad-brush initiatives, the person we'll elect will act in a way appropriate to the world in which we actually live, NOT necessarily in the fantasy world defined by the issues on which he/she ran. We want to see how this person is likely to react when the real world intrudes.

(Although I do agree with you that race and gender should have no bearing on any of that.)


According to Greenspan, the only exception was the current President. After his election in 2000, Greenspan sat down to talk to W and Cheney, and find out what they were REALLY going to do - and was stunned when they insisted they were going to do exactly what they campaigned on, regardless of whether it made sense or not.

(FWIW, I find the Greenspan book, particularly the later chapters, somewhat time-consuming to read because there's just so much there to ponder. But it's definitely worth the read regardless of what you think of him.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 12, 2007 9:29 AM

Disclamier: I'm originally from NY and lived there while HRC campaigned. She won because of her name.

I don't like her. She's a carpet bagger among other things. Do we really want to continue this chain? (Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton?) I agree we need a change (and this coming from a member of the RNC) and perhaps it's time for a woman, but not her (and I'm not sure who).

Question -- will there be a guest blog on any Republicans running?

Posted by: DLC1220 | December 12, 2007 9:42 AM

I would not vote for Hillary Clinton simply because she's a woman, and I'm hoping I don't have to choose between her and any of the Republican candidates (who I am not terribly thrilled about).

I actually like Bill Richardson for his experience and such. He's a great public servant, but a *horrible* campaigner, so I'm not holding out much hope for him getting the nod.

I'm not averse to the concept of a woman in the White House at all. But I am - and always have been - puzzled by Hillary Rodham Clinton's deification as front-runner. She's hardly an ideal candidate.

If she is voted in simply because she's a woman - well, that scares me to death. Because that is a really weak use of our political privilege. (Or, as my mother says cynically when she views someone spouting off about something they know nothing about, à la Sherri Shepherd on The View these days: "And they all have a vote....")

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | December 12, 2007 9:44 AM

This sexism makes me crazy. Nobody cares that Hillary is a woman. Isn't feminism about not having to answer questions like this?

Is a man going to vote for a man because he's a man? Give me a BREAK!

Posted by: klynnwilder | December 12, 2007 9:53 AM

I would love to vote for a woman for president just to celebrate breaking through that ultimate glass ceiling. But HRC doesn't do it for me. I've seen too much evidence that she does the bidding of lobbyists when she knows full well she's voting for a measure that will hurt families (her Senate vote for changes to bankruptcy laws springs to mind). So I'm leaning toward Obama at this point. I love Bill Richardson's background and experience but he just hasn't gotten any traction on the campaign trail.

Posted by: anne.saunders | December 12, 2007 9:58 AM

"I don't know about you guys, but I wish personality and race and gender didn't play a role in the elections."
And religion...waaaay too much talk about the candidates' religious ideals. I am a firm believer in the separation of Church and State, so my attention goes to the campaigns that are talking about the issues. Religion is not one of them.

Posted by: kjax422 | December 12, 2007 10:22 AM

"So the reason that personality, etc. are important is because, other than a few broad-brush initiatives, the person we'll elect will act in a way appropriate to the world in which we actually live, NOT necessarily in the fantasy world defined by the issues on which he/she ran. We want to see how this person is likely to react when the real world intrudes.

(Although I do agree with you that race and gender should have no bearing on any of that.)"

Bingo. Personality matters ALOT. It tells me whether this person will be able to engage with foreign leaders. I support candidates who have a balance of pragmatism and spine, and have the charisma to persuade others to come over to his/her side. I may end up holding my nose and voting for HRC, but there are several other candidates whose presidencies would be more successful. And I refuse to be guilted into voting for her because of her gender. Politics, personality, experiences, and the ability to keep your cool when all about you, yada, yada, yada, matter.

In addition, I find this comment to be both silly AND insulting: "One theory about Sen. Clinton's weaker numbers among professional women is that more-affluent women aren't as worried about health care, child care, the minimum wage and other issues important to nonprofessionals." Maybe those professional women are far more worried about those same issues and - duh - THAT's why they are supporting other candidates. Did it ever cross the speaker's mind that the establishment candidate might not best represent the concerns of nonprofessionals?

atb - I'm glad you enjoyed it. I had to close my office door because I was laughing so loudly. The irony of that clip being published on the same day as yesterday's blog column (don't rich people have emotions and concerns?) did not elude me, LOL.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 12, 2007 10:22 AM

I'm fine with Clinton, fine with Obama, fine with most of the Democratic candidates at this point.

The reason I'm rooting for Clinton?
Because if she wins, it means enough people were able to look at her through a gender-neutral lens and see that those qualities that seem abrasive in a woman are highly valued in a man, should be valued in any person and would make her a better president than a lot of the good ol' boys in the field.

It would make me feel better about the country I live in.

Posted by: enkafiles | December 12, 2007 10:24 AM

So these studies say that HRC has more support among working class women than more affluent women... Could it be that there is a correlation between education and the factors that influence a person's vote? If highly educated people are more likely to follow politics closely and scrutinize candidates, then they are less likely to be swayed by rhetoric and surface qualities like a person's sex or ethnicity. More affluent women are more likely to be highly educated. Therefore, these women are less likely to base their support on the fact that HRC is a woman.

Posted by: JEGS | December 12, 2007 10:24 AM

"It would make me feel better about the country I live in. "

Would it actually make your country better or make you feel better about it? A couple of glasses of wine can often make me feel better about my day, but in reality they do nothing to improve my day and can often negatively influence the course of events.

I'd love a woman president. However, I think that Hillary is no better than her smarmy husband and sneaky GWB. I would like the first woman president be someone I can tell my daughter is a role model. Someone who is better qualified than the men before and a better person that the several men who have preceeded her. Hillary doesn't want to be president to make America a better place, Hillary wants to be president to make things better for Hillary. All of which begs the greater question: is it possible for a honest, decent person of integrity to get elected to high office or is the selling of your soul a pre-requisite?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 12, 2007 10:47 AM

"Do we really want to continue this chain? (Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton?)"

Posted by: DLC1220 | December 12, 2007 09:42 AM

Put another way, do we really want to continue this chain: (Yale College, Yale Law School, Yale College, Yale Law School)?

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | December 12, 2007 10:52 AM

"All of which begs the greater question: is it possible for a honest, decent person of integrity to get elected to high office?"

Sure it is, but then, we also have to accept that there is a certain nutcase factor out there in the electorate willing to say they won't vote for someone because, for example, his spouse has her tongue pierced, or his daughter is gay, or - the most absurd - his name is pronounced in a manner which is phonetically similar to a known terrorist. Honest, decent candidate has to have some kind of big-time following in order to survive the loss of the 5% nutcase factor. IMHO.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 12, 2007 10:53 AM

Meesh said:

"Also, I think that the conservatives have really villified HRC. They really hate her! The way conservative talk shows talk about her makes me not want her as president because the conservatives will not have an open mind. They'll blame her for everything and bring everything back to her husband, etc. I think they would give Obama a shot."

I agree that conservatives will never vote for HRC. More than that, I worry about them getting really mobilized to keep her out of office. But do you really think the conservatives will give Obama a shot? I think he has benefited from the Republicans' efforts to attack HRC. But if her were the nominee, I think they would come out swinging. And I think the thing they would be swinging on is his inexperience. His whole, "But look at George and Dick . . . they had experience and were terrible" thing will not convince the general population (especially not independents who aren't swayed by his values).

I am really struggling with this decision. I am a Dem, but I cannot decide who to vote for. When I took the Post online survey of candidates' positions, I unknowingly chose HRC 50% of the time. Obama was second by 13%. But I am a little afraid to vote for her, because of all the slandering of her and the "she can't win" stuff. I don't honestly think Obama would have a good shot once the negatives started flying. I like him, but I am not sure there's much to him in terms of knowledge and understanding of public policy. And I do think he's had a really easy ride as a front-runner to date. It will not be nearly so easy if he were to get the candidacy, and I have no sense of how he'd handle it . . .

Posted by: sciencemom | December 12, 2007 10:56 AM

"Hillary doesn't want to be president to make America a better place, Hillary wants to be president to make things better for Hillary."
Moxie, I'm curious why you think that, and in general curious why so many people have such a deep-seated distrust of Hillary Clinton. Lots of people are really threatened by her, and I just don't get it. When I look at Hillary Clinton I see somebody who is just incredibly driven by her idea of how things should be and not so much intested in feelings, her own or anyone else's. But charm just isn't something I need in a political candidate, I would really prefer someone who is just hell-bent on getting it right.
So what is it about her that drives you up the wall?

Posted by: wsbaker | December 12, 2007 11:07 AM

i don't have much to say here (to my surprise) but i am mightily enjoying these comments. we don't use talk politics here as directly as we are today and it's fascinating to learn where people stand. very thought provoking.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 12, 2007 11:08 AM

"All of which begs the greater question: is it possible for a honest, decent person of integrity to get elected to high office or is the selling of your soul a pre-requisite?"

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 12, 2007 10:47 AM

We get a choice. We can elect one of them (the élite) to high office, or we can elect one of us. But then something happens when we send one of us to Washington or to Annapolis or even to the County Seat. His party's leadership takes him aside, and the lobbyists take him aside, and when the time comes for voting on bills that affect our land, our lives and our tax burdens, he becomes one of them. I've seen it happen time and again. It wasn't elected officials who defeated developers' plans to tear down small businesses in Baltimore County and turn the land over to "upscale" developers. And it wasn't elected officials who stopped an annexation to the town of Aberdeen for the benefit of one particular developer. Rather, it was the people, voting in a couple of referenda. I believe that many, many more issues, including land use, appropriations and taxation, ought to be put to the people, because I think it's easier to corrupt a few hundred elected officials than to fool millions of citizens.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | December 12, 2007 11:09 AM

wsbaker -- I am struggling with the same thing. Why are people so distrustful of HRC? I can understand the "typical politician" thing -- but it's almost like she's rejected as being a power-hungry maniac who would lie, steal, cheat (kill, if you ask some hard-line conservatives) to stay in power. What scares me is that the criticisms are now coming from Dems, but sounding an awful lot like the Republican criticisms of Bill. If she does happen to get the nomination, I fear that its the Dems criticisms that will lead to her demise (and another conservative president) . . .

Bringing up the gender card, sometimes I wonder if that mistrust is a reflection of her sex. Is it possible for a woman to get in power and not be seen as power-hungry? Or is it specific to HRC?

Posted by: sciencemom | December 12, 2007 11:14 AM

Side topic: candidates and their wealth. Interesting item on CNN's website the other day. http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/moneymag/0712/gallery.candidates.moneymag/index.html

They show the personal wealth of the "leading" White House candidates. Not surprising, in some ways: the Clintons are worth 34.9 million; Edwards $54.7 million; Giuliani $52.2 million; McCain $40.4 million; Obama $1.3 million; Romney $202 million (although he admits it's hard to tell because of some venture capital investments; it could be $250 million for all he knows); and Thompson $8.1 million. One could easily wonder how any of those people can relate to the "average American".

The thing I got a kick out of, though, was that CNN had their "experts" offer advice as to how each candidate could be doing better, financially. That's a real laugh. First, Romney's worth north of $200 million; who's CNN got that can give him advice; they should be taking it from him. (FTR, the only advice they offer is that he give the maximum amount to each grandchild each year to reduce estate tax liabilities.)

All of McCain's wealth, except for one account worth $50,000, is in his wife's name. (Her family owns the Anheuser-Busch distributorship in Arizona - good money in beer!) So their advice to McCain was "keep his wife happy, or have a darned good prenup!"

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 12, 2007 11:20 AM

"sometimes I wonder if that mistrust is a reflection of her sex. Is it possible for a woman to get in power and not be seen as power-hungry?"

Please name one MALE politician who is at a high level and is NOT seen as power hungry. After you do, then we can discuss whether gender makes a difference.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 12, 2007 11:23 AM

"Lots of people are really threatened by her, and I just don't get it."

Wow.

I know no one threatened by her, although I don't dispute that you must or you wouldn't have said this. I know many, many committed democrats who do not support HRC for President. They find her to be unprincipled, arrogant, condescending, unable to cross party lines and accomplish anything, unelectable due to her strong negatives, and they long for an end to the Clinton-Bush, dual-dynasty. It is time for a change.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 12, 2007 11:44 AM

"All of which begs the greater question: is it possible for a honest, decent person of integrity to get elected to high office?"

IMO, not with our current campaign finance set-up. Running for higher office costs big bucks -- freshman Congressmen now have to have fundraisers to retire campaign debt while simultaneously hiring staff and get situated in office, committee assignments and the like. Fundraising never ends nor does the influence of corporate donors, lobbyists, PACs, etc.

Posted by: tntkate | December 12, 2007 12:28 PM

I am all for a woman in the White House- however, I don't want it to be the particular woman who is running (HRC.)

I vote for candidates for elected office based on their views, experiences, etc.-- not based on their gender. In some cases when I have had the choice between a man or a woman for varous offices I have voted for the woman-- but sometimes for the man.

Posted by: elske | December 12, 2007 12:38 PM

Disclaimer: I am a registered independent; I vote candidate by candidate, issue by issue.

The thing that worries me about Hillary Clinton is her desire to spend, spend, spend at a time when this country can least afford it. A $5,000 baby bond? Are you kidding? But otherwise, I do think she would be a competent president (if she didn't bankrupt the country). Obama? I can't find where this guy has been the primary sponsor on a single piece of legislation that has been signed into law. All hat, no cattle, this candidate...Don Quixote, but apparently there are a LOT of folks who are feeling quixotic. My fave of the top Dem contenders is John Edwards. At least he has put forward solid policy statements and discusses how he will pay for them (rolling back tax cuts on the wealthy). Edwards didn't sponsor a great deal of legislation while in the Senate, but he worked well across party lines on health care, campaign reform and other issues. (FWIW, I think the most qualified Democrat running is Joe Biden; unfortunately, he is not a contender).

On the Republican side...yikes. Dems would LOVE for Huckabee to get the nomination--that will assure a Democratic victory in November, even if the Dem nominee were Ted Kennedy. And why hasn't his Willie Horton issue dropped Huckabee in the polls? Guiliani...his best days in this campaign are behind him; he will only fall in the polls. The New York City firefighters are getting ready to swiftboat him, and deservedly so. And who wants puppy-killing adultress Judith Nathan in the White House? Ugh.

If Republicans truly want to win the White House, the only person that can do this is John McCain. He has fiscal restraint and he is a statesman. We will be in Iraq another four to seven years regardless of who wins the White House, so why not go with the candidate who is honest about it (McCain). And in national polls, McCain is the only Republican who beats Obama and Clinton, but the Republicans who vote in the primaries are too extreme, so McCain won't get the monimation, and the Dems will win in November.

So...that's my analysis...I haven't decided which primary I will vote in, but among the Dems, I like Edwards and among the Republicans, I like McCain.

Posted by: pepperjade | December 12, 2007 1:10 PM

Woman, man, eunuch, I don't really care as long as they get the job done.

No one influences my vote. Everyone gets one, so why should I share mine with other people?

That being said, I am disgusted with almost all the candidates both Republican and Democrat, and with politics in general.

However, I do support Edwards. I think out of all the democrats he has the most connection to the middle class and the blue collar workers who are really getting the screws lately.

Posted by: Irishgirl | December 12, 2007 1:29 PM

Pepperjade - I was sitting here trying to figure out how I was going to answer, but your response says it better. I'm trying to figure out why I like McCain and Edwards because they don't really agree on some rather major points. Maybe it is just plain leadership. I see leadership and listening in both.

Of course, Edwards' HQ is just up the street so maybe I'm just going for the local.

Posted by: dotted_1 | December 12, 2007 1:33 PM

Dotted: I'm sitting not too far from McCain's district office in Phoenix : )

Both McCain and Edwards work well across party lines, and both are moderate (relatively speaking). Edwards worked with McCain on McCain-Feingold and on the Patient's Bill of Rights.

I think Americans want less discord among its elected officials. We are not a nation of red and blue--we're purple.

Posted by: pepperjade | December 12, 2007 1:42 PM

IMHO, the artificial controversy over whether or not Americans will vote for a woman or a 1/2 African-AMerican is completely contrived by the media to create a controversy that they can write about. I travel a lot, and meet a lot of different people; I have never heard anyone in the course of discussion about the upcoming election even mention that being a woman or from a minority group or being of a certain religion (except maybe some evangelical sects) would have any impact. It's irrelevant. We're beyond that as a country, I think. (We'll see if people on this blog agree or not.)

As for me, I'm still looking for a candidate who can express a clear vision of what we should be striving to achieve as a powerful nation -- accompanied by a few big ideas with some details below the 100K foot level. So far, they're just restating the same set of problems that we all know about and live with every day. For me, what's completely lacking is the vision thing...

Posted by: gottabeanon | December 12, 2007 1:42 PM

pepperjade, excellent analysis, and I think we even agree on candidates. :-)

It gets back to the point that I cited from Greenspan's book about campaign promises mostly being platitudes to get elected. You need a belief that a candidate will do the "right thing" after election and inauguration. While I certainly don't agree with everything McCain supports, I have nothing but respect for his honesty and integrity. And Edwards seems to be the closest thing to that on the Democratic side.

FWIW, in my history of voting in Presidential elections, I started by voting for John Anderson; then for Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Dole, Bush, and Kerry. I vote for the person, not the party. I've usually registered as an independent - with the "jungle primary" in Louisiana there was no harm in doing so. I *think* I'm now registered as a Democrat - I did that a while ago in Maryland because it gave me two chances to vote against Parris Glendenning, once in the primary and again in the general election. I lived in PG County while he was County Executive, and you talk about a power-mad, scheming, dishonest, conniving soulless individual. I just knew that in this one-party state he was destined for two terms as Governor!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 12, 2007 1:43 PM

To ArmyBrat:

"Please name one MALE politician who is at a high level and is NOT seen as power hungry. After you do, then we can discuss whether gender makes a difference. "

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 12, 2007 11:23 AM

I haven't seen this provided as the primary arguments against nominating any one of the male candidates of either party. It's not that it's not ever mentioned for any of them, but it's not linked to some deeper character flaw like it is for HRC (she just follows the polls, can't be trusted, would do anything to get elected. Maybe it's about HRC in particular, but I have a hard time believing that there wouldn't be some of this with any driven woman who managed to get this close to the white house. She's just too "hard" -- call it abrasive, power-hungry, manipulative, what have you. Isn't it possible that the same characteristics in a man would just be accepted as part of the package for a driven candidate? If anything, we criticize men for "not wanting it badly enough".

Posted by: sciencemom | December 12, 2007 1:47 PM

Army Brat -- I have to disagree about Edwards. Live right (in a 27,000 sq ft compound in NC); vote left. The disconnect between words and deeds is just too big for me to accept.

Posted by: gottabeanon | December 12, 2007 1:49 PM

Posted by: gottabeanon | December 12, 2007 01:42 PM

I respectfully disagree. Among enlightened voters, I think you are correct. Those folks tend to look at candidates based on their policies. But to say we got past these things as a country? The last election was decided in great part on whether or not gays could marry. There are still a bunch of knuckle-draggers who vote. Polls indicate that some 25% of voters will not vote for a Mormom (I did not address Romney in my earlier post because I don't think he will do well by the end of March; he has done well in the Iowa polls because he has dumped obscene amounts of money there, and he's losing ground to Huckabee).

The issue of gender, race and religion will always be factors in elections. It's not media-contrived. It's how we separate ourselves as human beings, even when segregation is not forced upon us (watch the cliques that develop by fourth grade).

Posted by: pepperjade | December 12, 2007 1:53 PM

sciencemom - Still waiting for some kind of understanding about the I Hate Hillary phenomenon. The candidate that I like the most is John Edwards, however, I strongly suspect that he would end up in Jimmy Carter's, too naive to actually get anything done in Washington. I'm okay with sneaky and arrogant if it means getting the job done.

Posted by: wsbaker | December 12, 2007 2:06 PM

wsbaker --

Yes, me too. I was never a huge Hillary fan. I thought she was smart and competent, but don't like the idea of two Clintons (or two anybodys) in the White House. Too much like a monarchy. I always thought I'd like Obama, but have been less than impressed -- and I was a giant Edwards fan last round. I agree with someone earlier -- Biden has actually impressed me most in the actual debates.

But I think people's hatred of Hillary is making me like her MORE (I can be a bit contrarian).

I have a friend who works for Obama, and I was talking to her about this recently. Every website or blog of Dems I go to has this scary contingent of people who cannot make a good case for their own candidate (it's typically Obama I've seen), but just sits and slams Hillary. It's like the "Anything but Bush" strategy, only now it's "Anything but Hillary".

Posted by: sciencemom | December 12, 2007 2:11 PM

I don't know about the choice of the word "threatened," but I have seen a certain knee-jerk negative reaction to HRC in a lot people that I don't see to other candidates, and I do wonder what that's about.

That said, I'm not a huge HRC fan myself, for reasons that others have already described, but I haven't decided which candidate I prefer at this point.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 12, 2007 2:14 PM

I agree with LizaBean -- it's that knee-jerk reaction that makes me wonder. And perhaps I am alone in this, but I can't help but wonder if some of that isn't just about HRC herself, but -- in a subtle way -- about her being a woman. I am not usually one to claim sexism, but it does strike me as possible. I think the thing that makes me wonder is that those Hillary haters make statements that sound an awful lot like what I heard from some really conservative men back in the Clinton era. It's almost like they've adopted those conservative talking-points on Hillary. It reminds me of the bumper stickers . . ."Impeach the president, and her husband."

Back then, I felt that some of that strong negative reaction to HRC wasn't just because these men hated her health care proposals or the way she handled them. There was something about her being so involved in public policy and so driven. Or at least that's how it seemed.

The funny thing about her is that her criticisms come from all sides. She's too guided by polls and has no REAL values -- she's too rigid and ideological. She's too liberal -- she's too conservative. She doesn't work well with Republicans -- she's been too quick to work with Republicans.

Posted by: sciencemom | December 12, 2007 2:24 PM

Hmm, funny enough, I just came across this quote on the NYT online: "Mrs. Clinton confronts not some fired-up faction of the party trying to derail her, but a broad and vague unease with her candidacy among voters who genuinely wish her well."

Which, the knee-jerk folks aside, seems to pretty accurately describe a lot of other people I know. She's certainly an interesting figure, LOL.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 12, 2007 3:13 PM

sciencemom, you've raised a lot of interesting points. Let's see if I can address some of them - or at least offer an opinion. I'm gonna get killed for daring to post this, but I think it's part of what drives the public perception of HRC.

WRT the "driven", "power-hungry" point: I think you're somewhat wrong; I've heard it said about a number of men in this campaign. In particular, Obama and Edwards have been repeatedly hit with "what qualifies you to be President?" "you're too inexperienced" "why you?" (Although admittedly Edwards got it far more in 04 than this year, it's still happening.) It goes far beyond the typical "okay, explain why you want to be President" and gets into implications of "you're clearly not qualified because you're too inexperienced" with further implications of "power hungry". It's couched in different tones than HRC, but it's still there.

With HRC herself, I think a lot of it is that her behavior has been sufficiently different from "expected" that people are projecting rationale for it. Specifically, why would she stay with a guy like Bill? He repeatedly humiliated her - he had any number of affairs with any number of women; there's a good likelihood he actually raped at least one woman (unless you believe Juanita Broddrick invented that story). He set her up to defend him, and then didn't even have the cojones to tell her himself that he'd lied to her and actually screwed around - he sent his lawyer to do it.

Now, why would a woman stay with a man like that? Wouldn't the normal reaction have been like Frances Anne Glendenning, Parris's second ex-wife, who dumped Parris' rear-end pronto and took him to the cleaners in the divorce when his shenanigans were exposed (by none other than William Donald Schaeffer)? Or like Donna Hanover, after finding out about Rudy Giuliani's relationship with Judith Nathan, who's been so lovingly described earlier in this blog?

Well, only Bill and Hill know why she stayed with him. Perhaps it's just the nature of their relationship - she just really does love him that much and wants to stay with him despite his flaws. But quite frankly, he's always been power-hungry (and yes, it's been raised as an issue during many of his campaigns and was one of the major reasons he was booted out after his first term as Governor of Arkansas). And there are any number of people who are projecting on her the same philosophy - hunger for power. Because if she dumped his tail after any of the earlier affairs she wouldn't be where she is today; she stayed with him for the power.

(I have no idea why she stayed with him and don't really care; it's between the two of them. But I know any number of people - mostly women - who believe that she stayed with him for power.)

Her behavior as US Senator has done nothing to squelch views of her hunger for power. Look at her debate answer to the question about her state Governor, Eliot Spitzer, wanting to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. She both supported and opposed the idea inside of two minutes. Even her opponents called her on that one. It called to mind the worst of John Kerry's "I voted for the bill before I voted against it" line.

I personally don't believe that Hillary is any more power hungry than the males running for the same office. But she's certainly not any less hungry for power, either.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 12, 2007 3:14 PM

ArmyBrat, I don't think that the questions about experience come with the implication of powerhungry in the same way it is used against HRC -- though I don't disagree with your other points about her performance.

BTW, interesting to hear your reactions to Greenspan's book. The reviews I saw after it came out made it sound like it was so much shock that people are (gasp!) irrational. I take it you're getting more out of it than that, LOL?

Posted by: LizaBean | December 12, 2007 3:22 PM

LizaBean, the "irrational exuberance" stuff was probably the least interesting part of Greenspan's book to me, probably because I was so familiar with it.

His views on the various Presidents were very interesting - in particular his thought that Nixon and Clinton were the two smartest Presidents we've ever had, and two of the most brilliant people he's ever known, but they were both so personally flawed that they caused themselves (and others) a lot of trouble.

His economics lectures (that is, the latter chapters) are interesting but extremely dense - I keep having to figure out what he's referring to when he brings up "Dutch disease" and the like.

But the best line in the book is his story about proposing. Greenspan's famous for his "Fedspeak", in which he says things without actually saying them. Andrea Mitchell says that Greenspan had to propose to her three times before she finally figured out that he was actually proposing, because he was proposing in Fedspeak! Greenspan's response is that he actually proposed five times - she still missed two of them!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 12, 2007 3:29 PM

Leslie, I think the answer to your blog question is "not just because she's a woman". FWIW - DD recently got some new barbie clothes which I was trying to put on one of the 12 dancing princesses and I just took great joy in the fact that barbies a$$ was too big for the clothes. Welcome to the real world dancing princess barbie we've been waiting for you.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 12, 2007 3:36 PM

ArmyBrat, that's a crackup about the proposal. The book sounds interesting, maybe I'll check it out. It did crack me up that the reviews were focusing so much on the irrationality issue because to a non-economist like myself, it seems like such a no-brainer that people behave irrationally. :)

Posted by: LizaBean | December 12, 2007 3:54 PM

When I look at Hillary Clinton, she reminds me of my mom, and that just wigs me out! Finesse is something that neither of them has and is something I believe all great presidents need.

You always know what HRC is going to do next just by listening to the critics. She doesn't seem to be able to just stand up and say, "This is who I am!" She has great ideas and is steadfast to those, but rolls with the polls too much to make herself "look" better, thereby becoming less assured.

===================================
Posted by: wsbaker | December 12, 2007 11:07 AM

When I look at Hillary Clinton I see somebody who is just incredibly driven by her idea of how things should be and not so much intested in feelings, her own or anyone else's.


Posted by: WorkingDad | December 12, 2007 4:20 PM

Hi there, everyone. This is completely off topic, but I am just checking in for the first time after the birth of my daughter last week. Everything went well, she is healthy and beautiful, and I am recovering well from the C-section. The past few days have seemed like a blur of round the clock feedings and diaper changes, so the whole family is a little bleary-eyed right now, but we are so happy and feel so very blessed with our new little addition to the family. I will write more later, hopefully on topic, but for now, I have to go pump.

Posted by: Emily | December 12, 2007 5:09 PM

Congratulations, Emily!! Glad to hear you are healthy and happy, I'll be thinking of you and those round-the-clock feedings! Take care of yourself.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 12, 2007 5:11 PM

Woo woo Emily! You aren't off topic at all since I'm sure there were a number of people eager to hear from you...at least I know I was eager. Exciting for you and your family!!!

Posted by: dotted_1 | December 12, 2007 5:34 PM

Congratulations, Emily! Arriving late to the party today, but just wanted to let you know I'm glad to hear you and your little girl are doing fine. You can have flan while a nursing mom, right? If so, here's some virtual flan headed your way. Best wishes for the holidays.

Posted by: mehitabel | December 12, 2007 7:30 PM

Congrats Emily! I'm so impressed that you're logging on, LOL. Sounds like you and the little one are doing well. Keep us posted and take care.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | December 12, 2007 7:44 PM

Emily!! What wonderfully, awesome news! Thanks for letting us all know and I am so glad you and your new daughter are fabulously okay!

Posted by: mn.188 | December 12, 2007 8:03 PM

Ditto this:

"I like the thought of a woman in office, but I'm not a huge HR Clinton fan."

I'm not willing to vote for her just because she's a woman, although I am willing to give her my fair consideration.

Posted by: viennamom | December 13, 2007 9:11 AM

Did anyone here do the Washington Post quiz on issues, and see which candidate best matches your stance on them? You can do it "blind" or not. I always thought I preferred Obama, and it turned out, when I did a straight on the issues quiz, I do.
I am glad HRC is running, and glad that her candidacy is being taken seriously. I do not feel that I have to vote for her just because she is a woman. Had I been in the UK when Maggie Thatcher was in power (not to say that HRC has the same stance on things as Thatcher!), I would not have supported her just because she was a woman, either.

Posted by: dmla | December 13, 2007 9:47 AM

I could never vote for anyone I don't respect, and I don't respect HRC. No one who trades politcal power and a career for an unfaithful spouse gets my vote, male or female. I find HRC disingenuous at best, and unscrupulous or worse. When a woman comes along with whom I agree and whom I respect, I'll happily cast that vote.

Posted by: babsy1 | December 13, 2007 11:23 AM

In theory, I actually *would* vote for a woman president because she's a woman. I actually believe all the sexist crap about women being better listeners, more compassionate, good problem-solvers, multi-taskers, communicators, etc. Women "take care of" other people -- that's what we're good at, right? I think all these qualities would make for a great world leader.

But I'm not voting for Hillary: I'm Obama all the way. I don't like Hillary because she seems to have forfeited her principles at the altar of electability. Nora Ephron's Feb. piece at Huffington Post nails it perfectly.

Remember Carly Fiorina? Remember how we were all asked to forget that she was a woman breaking the glass ceiling, and yet we couldn't let go of that fact? Remember how, in the end, she was a talented and ambitious person, but the wrong person for that job?

We'll be ready for a woman president when that woman doesn't have to sublimate her gender in order to look like a qualified president. The real world is not a meritocracy. Gender and race DO matter, and since you're born with these qualities, you might as well make the most of them.

Posted by: jenfenslade | December 13, 2007 2:01 PM

This is sciencemom . . . back with a new identity!

Anyway, thought I'd see if anyone read the post article on Clinton today. "One of Clinton's Worst Days"

I was wondering about the same thing -- Clinton slipped up on immigration and everyone jumped on her. Obama did the same thing "after having two weeks to think about it" (not to mention after he attacked her for her answer, which I found particularly appalling), but it hasn't stuck.

Again, is this about HRC being woman, or is it about HRC in particular? I think it stuck because it hit a chord with people's
impressions of her -- not trustworthy, etc. But I also think that might be the result of sexism -- see my comments above.

I found it interesting that the two most recent arguments against her on this blog have involved comparisons to one's mother and a criticism that she stayed with an unfaithful husband. If it were man who reminded men of their fathers or a man who stayed with an unfaithful wife, would these even factor into our decision-making?

I think it's too simplistic to suggest that we wouldn't use sex or race in our decisions about voting. It enters into our judgments in subtle ways, and THAT's what we should be considering. That's why it's so hard to make substantial progress on racism and sexism once you've dealt with the obvious, institutional barriers.

Here's my take: We will elect someone of most any background (except maybe an atheist), as long as he/she fits with our preconceived notion of a president's behavior and characteristics. I think the latter is based on characteristics most common in white men. As a result, I think it would be easier for some black men to win the presidency than for a woman (something I never thought I'd believe).

My reasoning is this: In this day and age, a black man can convincingly show the same behavior and characteristics as a white man without being judged differently for showing those behaviors BY THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE (though he may be judged by his own people -- like Obama's early "is he black enough" argument).

A woman, on the other hand, will be perceived as having character flaws if she shows these characteristics. She'll be too cold and calculating for anyone to trust her. Yet, if she showed more stereotypical feminine features, she'd be too "soft" to be president.

Thus, in theory, I believe (now) that, theoretically, it's more likely that a black man could win the presidency than a woman. That's not to say it wouldn't be a huge achievement if a black man were to win, but I just think it's probably theoretically more plausible.

Posted by: skeptic421 | December 14, 2007 1:58 PM

HRC is getting a different kind of scrutiny because she is a woman, much tougher it seems. England under Queen Elizabeth went from backwater to the richest nation in Europe in a relatively short period of time. Women can get it done, they just need a strong support staff. The public face and soundbites of a politician aren't necessarily indicative of leadership ability. This is a complicated world and she's smart enough to do the job; can we say that about the other candidates? Also, family dynasties are part of American history, just look at the Roosevelts.

Posted by: kelly.bunn | December 17, 2007 11:06 AM

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