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Friday, November 2, 2007

Does Hillary Have a “Gender Problem”?

posted by on November 2 at 14:01 PM

Not everybody agrees that Hillary Clinton has been, as Eli put it, “trying to push women’s buttons, getting them to rally around Clinton out of a sense of shared victimhood.”

Here’s a different take from The Carpetbagger Report:

The meme of the hour is that Clinton played the “gender card,” but the evidence is pretty thin. A lot of people are pointing to this example from yesterday…

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton returned to her alma mater Tuesday, the all-women’s Wellesley College in Massachusetts, as her campaign suggested this week’s debate could help her with women voters.

Clinton seemed to allude to sharp attacks from Democratic rivals in Tuesday’s showdown, telling the enthusiastic crowd, “in so many ways, this all women’s college prepared me compete in the all boys’ club of presidential politics.”

However, like Ezra, I don’t see this as particularly troublesome. […]

Playing the victim takes a lot more than the mere mention of gender.

That said, while I think the media is blowing this way out of proportion — probably desperate to find a new narrative to talk about — part of me thinks this whole hullabaloo is Mark Penn’s fault. He’s the one who hosted a conference call to say that Obama’s and Edwards’ criticisms were driving women voters to Hillary. Since Tuesday, that’s probably the only legitimate instance of the campaign playing the “gender card” at all.

TCR’s Steve Benen was referring to a post on the American Prospect’s blog by Ezra Klein, who elaborates:

Clinton, speaking to her alma mater, said, “In so many ways, this all-women’s college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics.” That’s the only invocation of gender since the debate. And to me, it sounds like nothing more interesting than alumni puffery. She didn’t say the “boys” were beating up on her for being a woman. She didn’t say the questions were unfair or the attacks sexist. She just said that her alma mater helped prepare her to enter this world. That’s not making this about gender. It’s mentioning gender, and pumping up her college.

And as far as calling the election an “all-boys club” goes, that seems unambiguously true. In a nation that’s more than 50 percent female, where women made up 54 percent of the electorate in 2004, exactly one out of the 17 candidates currently vying for the presidency is female. But what we’re upset about is that Hillary Clinton mentioned that fact? The men doth protest too much, methinks…

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yah eli should stick to writing about chris crocker.

Posted by um | November 2, 2007 2:04 PM

I think it's notable funny that the media blows Hillary's so called 'playing of the gender card' way out of proportion but no one, at least in the media, is is really yelling about Rudy Giuliani playing the '9-11 card' day in and day out...

Posted by Darrell | November 2, 2007 2:07 PM

That's what I was thinking the whole time I saw stuff on the SLOG about the "gender card" and I saw the video that the Clinton campaign put out "Politics of a Pile Up" and I didn't think the video commented on gender at all.
I didn't see or read any of her Wellesley comments so I thought maybe she had said something about her gender playing a role in the concentration of attacks against her.

I'm not saying I'm a Hillary supporter but this whole gender card thing seems to be a figment of the media's imagination and not based on anything Hillary or her campain actually said.

Posted by Dee in SF | November 2, 2007 2:08 PM

But, what if Penn is correct?

If the polling does indeed support his contention, then he's stating a fact, at least to the extent the polling is accurate and relevent. And that isn't at all the same as playing a card, gender or otherwise.

Posted by COMTE | November 2, 2007 2:27 PM

Come on. All of this is, on all sides, is ultimately about political strategy and seeing what shit sticks to the wall. Obama and Edwards alternatively have a vested interest in seeing Hillary either unfairly judged on her gender, or judged for complaining about being judged for her gender - whichever will get them to win Iowa or New Hampshire. Hillary has a vested interest in being seen as a triumph for her gender, or for being unfairly attacked as a result of her gender - whichever will keep her in front in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Posted by tsm | November 2, 2007 3:10 PM

And the MSM has a vested interest in not discussing the policy differences and platforms of the candidates but in just talking about what color Sen Clinton's blouse is.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 2, 2007 4:24 PM

The lazy media has just been waiting to spring "playing the gender card" all this time. And each one of them thinks they're clever and original.

When will this tired cliche die? The phrase "playing the _______ card" comes out when an opponent/media puppet runs out of legitimate arguments* and is too chickenshit to reveal that their opposition is based on bigotry. Saying it shuts down reasonable discussion and puts everyone on defense.

*If they had one to start with.

Posted by anna | November 2, 2007 4:40 PM

I noticed a sea change - shift if you will - in today's articles by Howard Kurtz at the WaPo. I think the MSM is realizing we're on to their pro-Clinton pro-Guilani bias.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 2, 2007 5:13 PM

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