Enough is enough. Hillary Clinton has made history already. She has shown us that a woman can be a major presidential candidate. But if we are really “living history” here, let’s acknowledge that this campaign should be, well . . . history. We don’t need a woman president — particularly one whose campaign seems geared more toward becoming chief feminist than commander-in-chief.
Further, Clinton’s defeat this year would mark a significant milestone for American women: both the death knell for the liberal-feminist movement in America, and the end of the silly girl-power talk on the national political scene. Hillary has been a frontrunner — we know it can be done. Now we can all move on and let female candidates run on their merits, without the heavy servings of identity politics.
The great feminist lie was exposed when Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle quit after some 16 years with the senator, using the excuse of her six-year-old son. As the story goes, upon returning home after two months on the campaign trail, her son rejected her. “I want Daddy,” he insisted. Then and there, Solis Doyle broke out in tears and announced to her husband, “Joey doesn’t want me . . . I’m quitting.”
Few believe Joey was the sole reason for Solis Doyle’s exit. She left a campaign in disarray, amid reports of internal fighting, and at a point when Clinton’s prospects were bleakest. But she did quit — and in using Joey as her excuse, she revealed more than the sisterhood would have liked. America knows that men and women are created equal, but they also recognize that equality before the law does not mean that men and women have identical natural responsibilities toward the children they create.
The last straw, however, may have been the overwhelming and overbearing presence of Ms. magazine founder Gloria Steinem on the Clinton campaign trail. I thought Steinem had hammered down the final nail in feminism’s coffin when she announced in the New York Times that Hillary’s poor showing was proof — not that Clinton had run a lackluster campaign — but that women have it worse in the United States than blacks. “Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House,” she wrote.
But there was more to come. Ms. Steinem made sure to throw some dirt on top of the movement she mothered and buried when she popped up again before the Texas and Ohio primaries, ridiculously and shamefully attacking Arizona Republican senator John McCain’s time as a prisoner of war. She said: “Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years. [The media would ask], ‘What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?’”
Egging on laughter from the audience, she added, “I mean, hello? This is supposed to be a qualification to be president? I don’t think so.”
Further belitting McCain’s service and thereby disgracing Clinton and the feminist movement, Steinem continued her speech: “I am so grateful that she [Clinton] hasn’t been trained to kill anybody. And she probably didn’t even play war games as a kid. It’s a great relief from Bush in his jumpsuit and from Kerry saluting.”
We should have seen this coming. The first serious female candidate for president needed to be a maverick if she were going to be a true leader — with the courage to break free from the apron strings of her liberal-feminist sisters. But gyno-politics remains at the core of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, allowing Steinem and the sisters to present Clinton as the fulfillment of their dreams. It was therefore inevitable that the campaign would sound like a Ms.-magazine cruise slumber party. For years now, groups like the White House Project have devoted themselves to the urgency of electing a female president in the most unserious ways. When Geena Davis starred in a television show (shortly thereafter canceled) as president of the United States, Marie Wilson, head of the Project, exclaimed, “Isn’t that the best thing that ever happened?” (The BEST thing EVER? A doomed TV show? I mean, hello?) In a room of crying feminists, she announced, “I must have seen this eight times . . . and I keep trying to watch it without crying.”
Sadly, real politics this year hasn’t fallen too far from the Ms. Hysterical tree. Given that the nation is at war against a determined enemy who will continue the battle regardless of who wins in November, Americans need a candidate who is not playing the identity-politics game; a candidate whose executive experience is more than pillow talk with a president. I have the audacity to hope that the next woman who runs for the nation’s highest office will do so because she is qualified to be commander-in-chief, not because she’s a Uterian-American. And that, until then, Americans will say “no” to the girl politics.
© 2008, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.