Troubling reasoning

“Women’s Support For Clinton Rises in Wake of Percieved Sexism” in the NYT has, at least, a well-qualified title. The values statement for the kind of “Clinton symbolizes the struggle of women in the workforce, so I’ll vote for her” reasoning was in Steinem’s op-ed on the 8th.

I was staying on the fence about Clinton’s mini-breakdown until I was told on good authority by a woman, no less, that Clinton had faked it.

I’m not so sure. She’s been in the news spotlight for years and under great strain without such drama. I’m sure there was some real emotion there. But it may not have been strain as much as self-pity, which Dowd has pointed out. She’s very ambitious and competitive, she wants to win, and she was on the verge of losing. But many voters may have interpreted what was really an crafted expression of disappointment as her being worn down by the male establishment – or one and the same.

I have very mixed thoughts about feeling sorry for a U.S. senator. The most obscure senator still has a very powerful and lucrative position, especially after leaving office, and she is certainly not obscure. She will easily retain that job if her presidental bid fails, and that will not be an expression of a gendered ceiling.
As for gender vs. race in politics, women are slightly ahead if we’re counting progress. There has never been a black Speaker of the House, but Nancy Pelosi, a very liberal Democrat (and who would make a better President than Hillary) is Speaker currently. Both women and blacks have held top Cabinet positions, been elected as representatives and senators, and become Supreme Court justices, though there should be more of both, easily. There hasn’t been a female or black Senate majority leader, though, unless you count Trent Lott.

I feel about the same way about Clinton that I do about Elizabeth Dole. Their gender does not improve their politics or affect my decision. If there was a woman running that had Obama’s message but did it better or had more appealing ideas, I would vote for her in an instant.

What stands out this primary season is the nakedness of the pathos-based arguments. Obama’s campaign is almost entirely emotion-driven on the surface, though it doesn’t hurt that below that level is a sound set of ideas. Edwards, too, makes a blunt appeal to his working-class background. As I’ve said before, if Clinton could get some of that, and dump her emphasis on cold logic, she’d win. Presidents should inspire. She isn’t inspiring in the least to me – when I think of her, I get a feeling in my stomach similiar to having eaten too many tacos.

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