A few weeks ago, in a piece called “The Sleeping Giant,” I speculated that the efforts of leftist bloggers and other anti-war types to derail Hillary Clinton will likely fail, as Clinton benefits from a feminist backlash. My claim was:
[Hillary’s feminist] record, coupled with the desire of feminists to elect a female president, likely will count for much as [she] competes for the votes of leftists in her party. Of course, leftists for whom the war in Iraq is the be-all-and-end-all issue will be hard-pressed to prefer Hillary. But Hillary’s status and her gender should give her a good shot at capturing a substantial chunk of the overall leftist vote. . .And Clinton doesn’t need to prevail among leftist Dems, she just needs to be reasonably competitive.
Evidence in support of my claim appears today, via Real Clear Politics, in the form of this exchange between contributors to the leftist American Prospect. Garrance Franke-Ruta makes the “progressive” case for Hillary; her colleagues Matthew Yglesias and Sam Rosenfeld demur.
Both pieces are fairly silly. Ruta-Franke whines that Clinton “faces uphill battles on account of her gender.” She contends that perceptions of Hillary as too liberal and too divisive are the result of her gender. But these perceptions were formed back when she was leading an ill-conceived attempt by the government to seize control of the nation’s health care sector, firing the White House travel office to assist her cronies, helping her husband rent out the Lincoln bedroom, and attempting to avoid prosecution for corruption assocated with “Whitewater,” all while claiming to be the victim of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Hillary’s gender more likely is the trump card that will see her nominated, than a drag on her campaign.
But the significance of Ruta-Franke’s contribution is not the seriousness of her arguments; it’s the fact that she makes them, and what that suggests about how left-wing feminists will view this race.
Meanwhile Yglesias and Rosenfeld would have their readers believe that Clinton “is a moderate who people think is a liberal.” Yet they acknowledge that “on most domestic issues — whether the environment, taxes, or judicial nominations — Clinton is a perfectly orthodox Democrat.” Nor do they dispute that Clinton has never cast a vote on Iraq that differs from one cast by her two main rivals, Barack Obama and John Edwards. So what evidence do Yglesias and Rosenfeld present that Clinton is a moderate? It seems that her pollster wants Democrats to appeal to prosperous white men, and that she hasn’t apologized for her vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution.
If that’s all feminism needs to trump, it may not be much of a challenge.
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