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Wag The Blog: What You Had to Say

For the second straight week, we've had more than 100 comments in just a few hours of our Wag the Blog question on whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-N.Y.) gender or Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) race represents an impediment to their path to the White House in 2008?

We appreciate your participation. Your thoughtful comments, analysis, and insights make The Fix a vibrant conversation hub. The following just a small sample of reader response to today's question. The discussion and debate is ongoing.


Both gender and race have been not only an obstacle, but an unmovable barrier in this country until relatively recently. In spite of many glaring exceptions around the country, I believe that we have evolved beyond that. Given the right woman, or the right African-American candidate, either can be elected president. I have also admired HRC, but do not believe that she is the right woman, simply because there is no human way to get beyond the extreme, unreasonable tho it be, hatred of her by a huge segment of the population that would leave us a highly polarized nation even if she were to be elected. We need a unifying president at this point, in reality, not in words! I do believe that Obama can be elected , and can unify this country in ways that no president ever has in the past. He has my complete support.

Posted by: Wayne P


I would say both can be an impediment and a strength

For women, there is an almost impossible balance between "too weak" and "she is a b*tch". I think this is the primary reason the Mrs. Clinton is so polarizing and in a primary that will emphasize strength and electability, the conundrum will be difficult for HRC.

For race, there is this image burned into the American psyche of the militant African American embodied in Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, and in some respects Jesse Jackson. America still has serious race issues, but most Amenricans just want to ignore it and move on. Mr. Obama provides a way for Americans to do that without the "race/slavery issue" that many white Americans would rather avoid confronting. Obama embodies the success of the civil rights movement with none of its baggage, a net plus and not placing any obstacle in his primary bid.

Posted by: JOToole


Unfortunately both are impediments. But to answer the question, being black is more of an impediment at this point. We'll have a female President before we have a black or hispanic one, if for no other reason than because women make up roughly 50% of the population while blacks and hispanics are a fraction of that.

Put another way, HRC and Obama start with the same 40/40 split of the populace, and have to win over 51% of the people who don't go in with an overwhelming bias to one party or the other. If HRC was a generic woman, it would be hands down easier for her to convince the general electorate to support her.

The fact is that black candidates have only won 5 statewide top of the ticket elections in US History. We just recently watched Harold Ford, who was as strong a candidate as you'll find, lose to an underwhelming opponent in TN in a Senate race that the margin was almost certainly all about race.

On the flipside, virtually every state in the Union has either had a female governor or at the very least a strong female contender for Governor. People will elect a qualified woman to the top slot in the state, and also to the US Senate. History would indicate that they will not do the same with blacks. Of the five blacks elected statewide, two were from Illinois, two from Mass, and one from Virginia. The two elections in IL were with only nominal opposition, the one in Virginia was a fluke, in that the Republican was so thoroughly despised that VA elected a black man to Governor as much as a rebuke to his opponent as an affirmative election of Gov. Wilder, as exemplified by Wilder's inability to win any further elective office.

I wish it weren't so, but Obama would be on the defensive just to keep the blue states blue. Heck, Tom Bradley, as admirable a candidate as you'll find, couldn't beat Geo. Dukmajian in California, and if you can't carry Cali, as a Dem, you cannot win the election.

Posted by: steve


I believe that, in order for somebody to become a viable candidate in the first place, race is a bigger issue than gender. The combination of a poor education system with the high number of entrenched (white) political elites means that the pool of well-positioned minority candidates is far smaller than the pool of well-positioned white candidates. True, there are many factors working against women as well, but a glance at the number of women who run for office (and particularly female governors) versus the number of black men shows that the bias against minority males is stronger than against white females.

When it comes to actual electability, however - for example, now that we have a viable black male and white female candidate for president - I believe the reverse is true. There is a crude paradox that keeps women from being as electable of men, regardless of ethnicity. Women are, as is frequently mentioned, stereotyped as weak and emotional; in order to overcome this stereotype, many female candidates rise to the top because they are reputed to be strong and dispassionate. Think Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel (Nancy Pelosi is a counterexample, but note that she has never won a national election, or indeed a statewide election). This type of personality is necessary for viability, and very damaging for actual electability - remember, the biggest criticism of HRC is that she doesn't seem "charismatic" or "warm." I believe that, because of cultural biases, HRC's biggest weaknesses are also some of the primary reasons she has risen to the position she is at currently. On the other hand, for black males, although there are cultural biases, they do not force candidates to assume very specific attitudes. Further, in terms of actual electability, the number of white voters who would feel great about getting to vote for a black candidate is far more significant than the number who would vote against a black candidate because of race (most of whom probably wouldn't vote for a Democrat anyway).

Of course, these are stereotypes. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama (the people, not the stereotypes) are far more than their gender and ethnicity; they are two brilliant, courageous politicians, and I believe either of them is electable and would make a great president.

Posted by: Jesse

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 18, 2007; 4:34 PM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Posted by: vlad | February 14, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Its all about biochemistry ; Obama has too much melanin and Hillary too much tesatosterone ;

Posted by: donmacnamara | January 30, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

The classsical idea of a just war demands that aim is moral;
Classical scholars defined war as an ethically appropriate use of mass political violence. Many credit Augustine with the founding of just war theory but this is incomplete. As Johnson notes, in its origins just war theory is a synthesis of classical thought .Many would accredit to Aristotle, Cicero and Augustine this refined and redefined validation of war - The Just War Tradition- Many of the rules developed by the just war tradition have since been codified into contemporary international laws governing armed conflict, such as The United Nations Charter and The Hague and Geneva Conventions. The tradition has thus been doubly influential, dominating both moral and legal discourse surrounding war. It sets the tone, and the parameters, for the great debate.
Just war theory can be meaningfully divided into three parts, which in the literature are referred to, for the sake of convenience, in Latin. These parts are: 1) jus ad bellum, which concerns the justice of resorting to war in the first place; 2) jus in bello, which concerns the justice of conduct within war, after it has begun; and 3) jus post bellum, which concerns the justice of peace agreements and the termination phase of war.
That the likelyhood of success is positive, that the means are proportionate towards that end.

The invasion of Iraq fails on each of these tenets. An outraged US President desperately seeking a perpetrator for the attacks on the Twin Towers declared it. When an obvious target in the form of an obvious aggressor could not be found, the State of Terror was invented, and later Iraq was dressed up to be the manifestation of that State. The US invaded without the mandate of the UN.
The Shock and awe strategy to bomb a city into submission prior to the land invasion was brutal, barbarous and yes murderous. It was indiscriminate and slaughtered thousands of civilians. It was on a scale of carnage and in equal ignominy to the bombing of Dresden in WW2 .
The leadership was topppled and the regeimen changed .The Americans used a con man (Chabli) to usurp / install a favourable leader. They succeed in installing a leadership as crass and fundamentalist as the one they deposed. The despot was tried in a courtroom where his protestations could be switched off and his remonstrations be screened off at the touch of a button by an unconcealed vengeful judge. He could have pleaded that the Anthrax which he used against the Kurds was supplied by the US, he might have referred to his former relations with Rumsfield, and the US support in his was against Iran but the charges against him were selective in that they had no material basis for US or UK collusion. These were Saddams own killings in revenge for the attempt on his life.
And so after a hearing which appeared at times like some slapstick judicial romp; a farce of truly theatrical proportions he was not surprisingly sentenced to die. He pleaded to be shot as a soldier (which he was not); this was denied
And so he was hanged by a taunting jeering mob as he prayed for the deliverance of Iraq from the Persians and their allies. And this was filmed on cell phone to give us the grisly reminder of the macabre horrorof an18 centaury execution. I have watched this with some sense of, loathing revulsion and disgust.
If in his last moments Saddam showed contrition, or remorse or asked forgiveness we can never know ;only a knowing God can know and adjudicate. But what can one say of his executioners - if they believed in a hell need they have taunted and goaded him - he was in their urgings going there anyway but and if they believed in deliverance through a Devine mercy by any deity ; Allah ; God - any supreme being - how could they torment him even as the trapdoor opened.

Now consider the paradox that would surely have been if the British had captured Saddam and he immediately sought asylum in the UK because of his perceived fears of a trial culminating in the death sentence - a system which is not countenanced in the UK, I believe in these circumstances Saddam would have argued for such protection and have succeeded as did Pinochet.
The problem is that now are exposed the fault lines between the allies in the ethics of warfare and its sequellae. There is already an evidential wish for the British to distance themselves from what was a dark, brutal, gruesome and unseeingly hasty execution.
A new hatred between Arab cultures has been fomented by the invasion of Iraq - that between Sunni and Sheite ; it has been exacerbated by this trial and execution to an untold degree.
As the Bush administration seek to justify a new surge of troops in a country already in a state of civil war, where the Houses on record at least should oppose such a venture Bush seems destined to sink to depths of unpopularity not even known to Nixon.


Posted by: donmacnamara | January 30, 2007 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Its a biological/biochemical dilemms
Hillary' testosterone and Obamas melanocytes

Posted by: Anonymous | January 30, 2007 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Why should feminists like Hillary be acceptable as presidential aspirants at all? Hillary clearly enjoys seeing women dominate and control men, and her hostility to men is palpable.Why do so many men want to vote for a sexist woman to show they aren't sexist toward women? Do whites vote for black nationalist leaders to prove they aren't racists?

Posted by: David | January 22, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Why to we need to worry about who is electable can't we just appoint one like last time.

Posted by: Reece Conrad | January 22, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Neither Hillary nor Obama are electable, it is a fantasy of the media and media hype. I for one don't want another Clinton in the White House, President Clinton (Bill) had a wonderful chance at Universal Health Coverage as his lasting legacy and gave us NAFTA and Monica Lewinsky - his Presidency, like his predecessor and successor are shams. Now we are epected to elect CLINTON II - give me a break, that wing of Democratic thought is what lost blue-collar folks in the first place, especially with NAFTA - THIS IS NOT A MONARCHY - we can DO BETTER.

Obama, is not Colin Powell, who would make a decent President from everything I see, and I am a Democrat. Powell has military leadership, is a unifyer, has spoken against the 'surge' and Bush's handling of the war, would never go to war without proper equiptment or overwhelming force etc. Powell is Presidential. Obama, is new to the scene, doesn't have much of a record of what he would stand for and as far as electability - you really think with a name like Barak Obama, and with a Muslim father in his background, every day Joe American is going to consider voting for him? No. That is being realistic. Another reality - the only reason he gets attention is because he is African-American, not exactly Martin Luther King's standards of judging not by SKIN COLOR, but by the "CONTENT OF CHARACTER".

Simply put, neither one will win period. They will be easy beats for any Republican, most likely McCain. Which means more bloodshed, bombastic war rhetoric, war with Iran, etc. as McCain is decisively for EXPANING the WAR more. He is a SUPER HAWK if you will, and out of sink. But, Joe American and Independents out there, and Blue Collar Democrats, will vote for him faced with have Queen Hillary (WE ARE NOT A MONARCHY) or OBAMA.

If Powell were to run, hands down he would be the first black president and get my vote, not because he is black, but because he has shown his care for the country, his deep roots with the country, and his style of leadership.

Right now, don't discount EDWARDS, his is the best chance for my party to win, possibly with Harold Ford, Jr. as VP in 2008 and not screw up a possible unified government of Democrats that can give us Universal Health Coverage, reverse the NAFTA debacle (trade in general) that is hurting the Middle Class, and put an end to the madness of Bush's Premptive War.

Posted by: Rich - AMERICAN | January 21, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Hussein Obama and Hillary Rodham do not have any gravitas!

Posted by: David Marshall | January 21, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse


Do you intend to adress the Right wing media smear of Obama as being educated in a "Madrassa" and being "raised as Muslim"?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 19, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

good debate on an African-American and a woman as a possible elected leader of our nation.

Here is the latest poll from New Hampshire.

Hotline reports Iowa Caucus voters give Condi 9%. So she has a chance to enter the race later and build up support for delegates in 2008.

Now, including Condi Rice in the polls also shows the Republican voters are open to her as a candidate. She is strong on the 2nd Amendment and has strong foreign policy experience. Most of the people who try to discredit her or degrade her are the liberals and the Democrats. Any fair-minded person can plainly see it.

Shirley Chisholm ran for president in 1972.
Jessie Jackson ran in 1984 and 1988, but he claimed last night in Tampa, Florida that Jessie (himself) led the way for Clinton and that Obama and Hillary need to run.

I was in the audience and Jessie Jackson was badmouthing Abraham Lincoln and told the 3,000 people at the Sundome in Tampa that Lincoln failed on his promise to give them the vote and give them citizenship until the 1960's.

I am astounded that the History of Blacks in America links the GOP toward Jim Crow and segregation rather than placing the full blame on the Southern Democrats who feared all the power given to African-American males in the 1870's and 1880's.

This might not help Condi with Jessie Jackson, but he needs to watch his mouth when he speaks against Abraham Lincoln.
He might not like her stand on issues, but she has a right to voice those views on policy and issues to be faced by President Bush and for our nation. Jessie got to the audience to shout, I AM SOMEBODY, RESPECT ME, PROTECT ME, NEVER NEGLECT ME.

But is Jackson willing to say those things to African-Americans who are Republicans or who are seen as upcoming leaders of our nation? Now that would be the question I should have asked last night, but the line was so long and I did not want to cause any fights. So I just took notes to share with my friends. The speech was interesting yet so lacking in real historic fact about the past 100 years in our nation to send segregation and racism.

Posted by: tina | January 19, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Is Barack Obama black enough to gain the black vote?

I'm not sure the best way to say this so bear with me.

It has come up fairly often that black men who become successful by dressing "white" speaking "white" and more or less acting "white" are considered by the African American community as having betrayed their roots or "sold out" to become successful. Does Obama fit this category?

Posted by: Dan W | January 19, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Gender is far more likely to be an impediment than race. Face it: People may appear "racist" sometimes, but that is usually simply because people with certain racial backgrounds appear to be overall one way more than another: i.e., Asians appear to many Americans to be hard-working, highly intelligent, and conventional, and this seems to often be in the case--at least among upper-income Asian families.

The reason that Asians often appear to be this way is because of cultural factors which drive them to act the way they do, as well as class factors: Asians are the wealthiest and most educated minority in the United States. However, if we saw an Asian who was unconventional, not-so-bright, and relatively lazy, we would see that Asian as an exception to the rule, and not bound by the actions and mindsets of other Asians.

Similarly, African-Americans are somewhat loosely identified with a culture of kindness, charisma, easy-going and laid-back attitudes, crime (young black males), and passionate religious services. However, Barack Obama hardly exhibits any of those traits commonly linked toward a black culture which may be viewed by some as negative. Thus, Barack Obama will be considered by voters who have certain initial inclinations towards particular racial groups as being an exception, and an exception to the frequent stereotype.

Women, however, are biologically different than men, and most Americans realize this, and as a result I believe they will be less willing to cast a vote for a white woman than for a black man.

Posted by: Josh | January 18, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Just to correct Jesse: neither Margaret Thatcher nor Angela Merkel ever won a national election. They both won elections only in their constituencies. In Thatcher's case this was Finchley in London which had fewer than 40,000 voters.

From her position as Member of Parliament for Finchley, Thatcher was then voted by the other Members of Parliament for the Conservative Party to be their leader. Now, she was the leader of the Conservative Party while they were still in minority from 1975-1979, so the voters were pretty much certain that she'd become Prime Minister if the Conservatives won the 1979 election.

This is pretty much identical to the way in which Pelosi 'won' the leadership of the House in 2006. It's also the same as the way Merkel won in Germany in 2005.

What I'm saying that you can't really use examples of women running for the head of parliaments (i.e. not head of state) as evidence of what will happen in the 2008 US election for the head of state. It might be better to look at France's up-and-coming head-of-state election where Segolene Royale is the centre-left's candidate: she's ahead in the polls and is regarded as both a strong politician and feminine.

Posted by: David | January 18, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

"Think Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel (Nancy Pelosi is a counterexample, but note that she has never won a national election, or indeed a statewide election)."

The head of the parties in these countries is not via popular election but through representatives (MP) hwich are themselves popularly elected. Since Pelosi was elected by House of Representative members, she came to her position in exactly the same way Thatcher and Merkel did. Don't make the mistake of thinking the Prime Ministers of Britain and Germany are popularly elected the way the U.S. president is.

Posted by: nitpicker | January 18, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

'Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.'

Did you ever hear a more warped, delusional, Orwellian argument in your life?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

'Specter: Now wait a minute, wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in the case of invasion or rebellion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus?

Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.

Article I, Section 9:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Alberto Gonzales should not only be impeached for his willfully obtuse interpretations of the Constitution, he should be disbarred.'

Posted by: gonzales is a disgrace | January 18, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

KOZ, do the words stock market crash mean anything to you? Oh, yes, they're the reason we have Social Security in the first place!

As for the line-item veto, last time I checked the Constitution, Congress was a co-equal branch of government and in charge of the federal budget. Was I wrong about that? Because if I'm not, then the line-item veto is 1) unconstitutional and 2)results in Congress giving an absurd amount of power to the executive.

Posted by: Zach | January 18, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry, I made a minor miscalculation. the return on social security has been 1% historically. so I need to up my offer by 1%. Give me 100 now and I will repay you 80 in 40 years. Great deal, if you are a Lib.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 18, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Have I got a deal for you Dems. Simply gove me 100 dollars now and I will gladly repay you 79 dollars in 40 years. I will even back it up with bonds if you insist.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 18, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Only a wacky Lib/Dem would come to the conclusion that a 79% solution is just fine. this is why you guys always mess up the economy - you just don't seem to get the math.
If we feed 79% of the children would that be OK? will you accept 79% of your paycheck next week?

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 18, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Republicans Halt Ethics Legislation
Senators Sought Virtual Line-Item Veto

Eat me Harry Reid.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 18, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

'Social Security taxes from today's workers go toward paying today's retirees. Social Security will continue to take in more money than it has to pay out through 2017, according to the latest calculations by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

To pay full benefits beyond that point, the program will tap its controversial trust fund - which is a series of special U.S. Treasury bonds issued by the federal government in exchange for the Social Security surplus it spends.

The trust fund is projected to run dry after 2046. After that, Social Security will only be able to pay 79 percent of promised benefits.'

the usual lies are coming out about social security again. there is nohting 'controversial' about the bond fund. These are bonds just like any ohter bonds. We honor bonds held by citizens of other countries, why not our own?

And having social security able to pay 79% of promised benefits -- maybe, why is that so terrible. Isn't one of the so-called 'fixes' cutting benefits anyway?

i say leave it alone -- at least until we get a president who isn't determined to kill it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Here's a good breakdown of where Hillary and Obama agree and disagree...

Posted by: brianr | January 18, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Well that was fun.

Now, I was just listening to the Senate hearings, and two generals testified that pentagon plans were underway to attack Iran.

Joe Biden has said he will draft a bill to clarify that the Authorization of Force passed by Congress does NOT apply to Iran.

Question: If Congress explicity forbids attacking Iran, and Bush does it anyway, what are the consequences? [I mean, other than starting WW3] I don't really know myself..

I know that only Congress can declare war, but....

Posted by: drindl | January 18, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

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