Much was made at the DNC over Bill Clinton’s speech about his wife, the Democratic presidential nominee. Ol’ Bill’s speech, it was said, humanized her. It made her seem somehow more approachable, maybe likable, even, according to the talking heads.
Well, here’s the deal: “Approachability” is not even on my long list of things I want in a president, and I don’t remember a time when male candidates needed to jump through this particular hoop. Maybe some people are looking for approachable because she’s a woman, and women, well, it’s just too stupid to go into here, but: I don’t care if she wears pantsuits or skirts or likes long walks on the beach. I won’t be running into her at the Stop & Shop to swap recipes so I don’t care if she’s friendly. I want to know she can keep her calm in the war room, that she knows how to strategize, that she can put her ego aside, when necessary, to make important compromises.
I’m old enough to remember how the press (that would be people like me) fell all over themselves to write about First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s hair (Headband? No? Bangs? Yes?). It was stupid then and it’s even stupider now. We’ve had a couple of decades to get accustomed to the idea that girls can be president, and we should act accordingly.
Keep your “human.” I only care if she’s a policy wonk who stays up late doing her homework. If you need soothing tones, call your mother. I prefer a leader.
Clinton is definitely a policy wonk. Her bonafides on that score go waaaay back.
And looking at her economic agenda, it’s clear she’s not shooting from the hip. She’s surrounded herself with a mixture of classical liberal and neoliberal experts who have helped her draft a plan that addresses, in one way or another, the disillusionment of what’s left of the middle class. The problem, as WaPo’s Tankersly points out, is framing that plan with language that “fits on a bumper sticker.” (Maybe she should call James Carville.)
The Democratic Party has selected Clinton as its leader. So she’s a leader. I don’t think her capability is in doubt. It’s the direction that has most of the folks on Clinton’s side of the aisle worried.
Another question is whether a Clinton candidacy can turn out the vote for Democrats down the ballot. Presidents don’t rule by decree. Without a majority in the Senate, the Republican Party can continue its stranglehold on the economy.
Thank you for writing this. This whole process is providing many opportunities to shine a light on some of the ways we treat women differently! It’s been ingrained in much of society for so long and is tiring.
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