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 Ms. President? 

January 29, 2007 
Indent for Ms. PresidentIn 1984, when Walter Mondale chose Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, the media went wild over this “historic” step forward for women. Some milestone. What was all the excitement about? Women had already been senators, cabinet members, and prime ministers for a long time.

Today's column is "Judging Hillary" -- 
Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.Indent for Ms. PresidentWe’ve also been coached to respond to other “historic” firsts, such as the first female astronaut, the first female network news anchor, and so forth. I understand that nowadays women are also writing novels and directing movies. Golly gee.

Indent for Ms. 
PresidentMore recently we’ve seen an equally silly frenzy about the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi herself spoke as if this too were a great triumph against the odds. Excuse me for yawning.

Indent for Ms. PresidentSo my emotions aren’t exactly at a high pitch at the prospect of Hillary Clinton as our first woman president. I’m slightly alarmed at the prospect of Bill Clinton’s becoming our first male first lady, but heck, these things happen. I can take it if I have to.

Indent for Ms. 
PresidentActually, I think I’d enjoy it. George W. Bush will be a tough act to follow, and if anything could help me forget him, it would be Bill’s return to the White House in a new role. It has the makings of a great new sitcom, especially if he gets caught with another intern. And at least he wouldn’t have to worry about impeachment this time! Things could really get historic.

Indent for Ms. 
PresidentWould women vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman? Whither the women’s vote, the gender gap, and all that? Such talk is soooo twentieth century.

Indent for Ms. 
PresidentSure, some women would vote for Hillary because of her sex — a few little old feminists in tennis shoes who are still burning their bras, I suppose. But others would vote against her because — oh, you know how women are. They observe and react strongly to things men aren’t even aware of. That’s why they make good novelists and film directors.

Indent for Ms. PresidentMen will tend to judge Hillary on her positions — or, to put it another way, by their own ideologies. Women, I think, will judge her more by her character, and women are more sensitive judges of character than men. For better or worse, they will give more weight to her dealings with her husband, especially during the Lewinsky scandal.

[Breaker quote for Ms. President?: Judging Hillary]Indent for Ms. PresidentWas she really fooled? Or was she only pretending to believe his claims of innocence? If so, was she justified in doing so? These questions aren’t easy to answer. It’s quite possible, even likely, that women will judge her more harshly than men will. I wouldn’t bet very heavily on sisterhood to deliver Hillary the women’s vote in 2008.

Indent for Ms. PresidentIf you take a more lenient view, you may think of Hillary as Ginger Rogers to Bill’s Fred Astaire, doing everything he does backward, in high heels. All that has changed is that she’s dancing solo now.

Indent for Ms. 
PresidentSome conservatives can’t shake the idea that Hillary is a Marxist revolutionary hiding her true colors as she bides her time. But we’ve already had our revolution, and it’s continuing under Republican management. How much worse could she be?

Indent for Ms. PresidentShe showed a flash of charming humor the other day when she joked about having learned to deal with “evil men.” A little more of that would go a long way toward dispelling her image as cold, calculating, and ambitious. You don’t expect Lady Macbeth to enjoy a good laugh at herself.

Indent for Ms. PresidentMy chief apprehension about any woman president is that she might feel she had to prove she could be as tough as any man. Of course we have the same problem with male presidents. The first President Bush was a decorated veteran, but he had to face mockery about the alleged “wimp factor” until he took us into a couple of wars.

Indent for Ms. 
PresidentHillary may have learned her lesson after voting in favor of war on Iraq. She’s still paying for that among Democrats who no longer trust her. And she’s not yet tough enough to oppose the war outright. Merely second-guessing the Bush administration is a poor substitute for leadership.

Indent for Ms. PresidentBut she’s not really offering leadership; she doesn’t have to. She has money, organization, and name recognition — and her name isn’t Bush. That may be more than enough.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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