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Clinton And Gender Politics No Simple Matter

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Clinton And Gender Politics No Simple Matter

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Carly Fiorina speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

Carly Fiorina has evidently hired herself as a hit woman, going after Hillary Clinton and her likely run for president. Fiorina is former chief of Hewlett-Packard and onetime Republican candidate for Senate from California. The thinking is that as a formidable woman, she can go after Clinton without being called a sexist male.

Republicans understand correctly that they have a problem attracting female voters and that Clinton is a special case, even next to other female politicians. Clinton has paid a lot of attention to gender equity issues and has weathered decades of sexist attacks, not only from the right but from some backers of her Democratic foes; recall the nastiness of her unsuccessful race against Barack Obama for the 2008 nomination.

As a result, Clinton has an army of women, especially older ones, watching her back. But within this set of facts lie dangers for those who misread the feelings about Hillary.

Some women no doubt yearn for a first female president, but more, I’d venture, simply regard Clinton as the strongest candidate, in intellect and in experience. For decades, they’ve seen her pelted by disrespect tinged with sexist ridicule, the latest incarnation being an obsession with her age not applied to potential male candidates of similar vintage. That’s what has her supporters fuming.

Thus, the assumption that these women would respond warmly to any woman thrown in their face registers as insulting. Such simplistic thinking has gotten Republicans in trouble. It led to the disastrous nomination of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate in 2008. The scariness of having the grossly unqualified Palin one heartbeat away from the presidency may have cost McCain the election.

The gender gap is based on differing worldviews. There is little in Fiorina’s conservative agenda that would appeal to the women who got Obama elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. And assuming that her being female is enough to go on opens all kinds of possibilities for Republicans to put their foot in it.

For instance: Republican strategist Ron Stutzman recently told the media that Fiorina could be a “very effective critic of Hillary, which Republicans are going to need.” He added that “obviously there is a space for a very articulate, conservative woman.”

Only one? Why not two?

Speaking for myself, I don’t buy into the ludicrous idea that it’s anyone’s “turn” to be president. Nor do I believe in the need for a “transformational figure” embodying a gender, race or religion that hasn’t presided in the Oval Office before. May the most competent human serve all of us.

I backed Clinton for the 2008 nomination because I thought she had the best ideas and best preparation for the job. When Obama became the nominee, I supported him — not because he is African-American but because of his brainpower and moderate politics.

Nowadays, I’d like to hear more from former Navy secretary and senator from Virginia Jim Webb, another Democrat who’s shown interest in the race. And there’s always a chance, however tiny, that Republicans will come up with a presidential candidate whom I would vote for. It’s happened before.

When it comes to assumptions about female candidates’ appeal to female voters, Democrats should watch their language as much as Republicans. In response to the support Republican men have expressed for Fiorina’s crusade, prominent Democrat Ann Lewis said, “These guys really believe it’s unfair that women are now running.”

Don’t go there, Democrats. Republicans aren’t attacking Clinton because they think it’s unfair that women are running for president. They’re going after her because she’s strong and tough enough to be a serious threat. Clinton has earned the right to be a threat.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Carly Fiorina speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MD. (Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

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Froma Harrop

Froma Harrop’s nationally syndicated column appears in over 150 newspapers. Media Matters ranks her column 20th nationally in total readership and 14th in large newspaper concentration. Harrop has been a guest on PBS, MSNBC, Fox News and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and is a frequent voice on NPR and talk radio stations in every time zone as well.

A Loeb Award finalist for economic commentary in 2004 and again in 2011, Harrop was also a Scripps Howard Award finalist for commentary in 2010. She has been honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the New England Associated Press News Executives Association has given her five awards.

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38 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila March 17, 2015

    Carly Fiorina, like the token African American and Hispanic members of the Republican Party, is doing what she is expected to do to remain relevant and a potential VP candidate. Unfortunately for Carly, her lousy record at Hewlett-Packard, her inability to connect with the average American, and her lack of vision make her as irrelevant as the rest of the GOP ever growing field of 2016 presidential candidates.
    What the GOP does not seem to understand is that mainstream Americans are looking for leaders and problem solvers, we are looking for people with a vision, rather than people whose agenda starts and ends with the opposition is evil.

    Reply
    1. wilty707 March 17, 2015

      You are RIGHT ON, Dominick!

    2. itsfun March 17, 2015

      Why is it that any woman. African American and Hispanic Republicans are only tokens according to you Using your logic, are all white men democrats only tokens?

      1. STMBT March 17, 2015

        They are just tokens! do these stupid minority REPUBLICUNT’S really think that there party actually care about them? NOT. The REPUBLICUNT party would never even think about making a BLACK, HISPANIC or a WOMAN there candidate for President. just look how much they HATE the black man that is the PRESIDENT. do these minority REPUBLICUNT’S really think that they would have a chance in there party? Take TURD CRUZE this guy wasn’t even born in this country he was born in Canada of an American mother and a Cuban father. (where is your birth certificate TED?)

        1. Daniel Jones March 17, 2015

          Calm down, please.
          ~~
          Ted’s fairly repugnant, yes, but he is as eligible as Barack Obama. (Even if Barack had been born in Kenya, his parentage and upbringing in the States means he’s not disqualified–end stop)
          ~~
          Ted went so far as to revoke his dual Canadian/American citizenship, giving up a perfectly innocent ability to live in Canada in order to appease the Birthers. Insanity. Really, his doing so was the first signal to me of just how much of a faithless political hack the dweeb is.

      2. midway54 March 17, 2015

        Well, tokens in this context are used hopefully to convince the general public that the Plutocratic Party is not a party limited to Gilded Age II political objectives. So for what purpose and by whom are all white men democrats presented only as tokens?

      3. Dominick Vila March 17, 2015

        Prominent Republican African Americans, Hispanics, and women are a tiny minority in the Republican party. A cursory look at Democrats in Washington, and in state governments, confirm that the make up of the Democratic party is consistent with our demographic makeup.

        1. itsfun March 17, 2015

          Guess what Dom: You just described the TEA Party as far as our demographic makeup.

          1. Dominick Vila March 17, 2015

            You may want to take a closer look next time you attend a Tea Party rally. Most TP advocates are elderly white men.

          2. itsfun March 17, 2015

            A new Gallup poll
            shows that the Tea Party movement best reflects the racial composition
            of the country (which only matters because liberals incessantly point
            out that Tea Partiers are largely white).

            From CNS:

            According to Gallup, 75 percent of the U.S. population is
            non-Hispanic White, while 11 percent are non-Hispanic black, and 15
            percent belong to other races. Meanwhile, 79% of Tea Party movement
            supporters are non-Hispanic white, while 6 percent are non-Hispanic
            black, and 15 percent belong to other races.

            Compare this with the racial composition of Obama’s supporters and you will quickly begin to see who is actually out of step with Mainstream America here (and who is basing their actions on race). As I have noted, the left’s habitual need to undermine, smear and race-bait this movement says more about liberals than it does about the Tea Partiers…and it’s beginning to backfire.

            The poll also found that almost a third of voters (28%) now expressly support the Tea Parties (while the overwhelming majority agree
            with them on the issues). Additionally, Gallup found that the Tea
            Parties are a microcosm of the country on “age, educational background,
            employment status.”

            In other words, everything liberals have been telling us is false.

          3. Dominick Vila March 17, 2015

            According to the last census African Americans are 12% of the U.S. population, legal Hispanics-Latinos are 18%, Asians and others are 2%, the rest are white. Here is what the Gallup poll found:
            http://www.gallup.com/poll/160373/democrats-racially-diverse-republicans-mostly-white.aspx

          4. itsfun March 18, 2015

            I didn’t see anything about the TEA party in that poll. It was taken between 2008 and 2012.

          5. Dominick Vila March 18, 2015

            The poll was taken at a national level, and so are the census results. Compare the numbers cited with the data you provided about the TP if you wish to determine whether or not the makeup of the TP is representative of our demographics.

          6. itsfun March 18, 2015

            The numbers I provided were from a Gallup poll also.

  2. booker25 March 17, 2015

    Carly is as scary as her red eye sheep in her campaign ad, more laughable then anything.

    Reply
  3. ps0rjl March 17, 2015

    When you look at the candidates on the Republican side, you get a clown car of right wing. crazies or you get some who might be a candidate if they didn’t have to pay homage to the right wing tea party and the Christian fundamentalists who now control the party. Right now Hillary looks like the strongest candidate running. As for the bump she will get from being a woman, the Republicans only have themselves to blame for that. Their continuous attack on women’s issues have caused women to leave them in droves. Their only hope is that young women will not show up at the polls, while the Democrats must not take for granted that they will show up at the polls.

    Reply
  4. itsfun March 17, 2015

    The gender problem for Republicans is the Republican men have no bal_s

    Reply
    1. dpaano April 2, 2015

      No balls and brains to match!!!

  5. Eleanore Whitaker March 17, 2015

    Hillary Clinton has always been the bain of the GOP boys lives. She always will be. GOP men always USE women like dockside harlots. Carly Fiorina is their latest Annie Fannie Coulter. They are using her and when they are done, will leave her in the same heap they left Palin, Bachmannistan and the soon to be dumped, Nikki Haley.

    Here’s an exercise for all of you to try out. Take the time to listen to the first five minutes of any of the GOP candidates. Every word out of their mouths are tied to Big Business. Not the People of THIS country.

    When they do include Americans in their speeches, it’s always to “USE” them as whipping posts to raise money or profit for Big Business. This is how deeply invested in business and not the people of the United States these GOP boys are.

    If the only reason they run for office is to support BUSINESS and USE Americans to support that business, this is an end run to taking money from the middle and lower classes paying ALL the freight to increase the profits of billionaires so billionaires will flush more of their money to the GOP. The stink of conflict of interest in this reeks worse than a sewer that hasn’t been cleaned for 2 decades.

    The word “business” falls for the lips of every GOP candidate with such frequency, you end up believing you are sitting in on a shareholders’ meeting.

    Reply
    1. Daniel Jones March 17, 2015

      bain? as in Bain Consulting, a play on words meaning “achilles’ heel for Republicans”…
      ~~
      Or was it auto-correct?

      1. Eleanore Whitaker March 18, 2015

        Actually, Carly Fiorina was kicked off her job as CEO at Hewlitt Packard for non-performance. Bain Consulting is just the tip of the GOP iceberg when it comes to forcing US taxpayers to pay for the idiocy of too rich to care, too ballsy to have balls CEOs who need a huge downward adjustment in their paychecks.

        That really is what the problem is today. The equation of the GOP is quite simple: CEO salaries + tax dollars= equals GOP campaign contributions.

        NO corporations who shows an IRS profit of more than $1 million annually for half a decade needs OUR tax dollars. This is a government OF the People, FOR the People, BY the people. Not a government dedicated solely to keeping Big Businesses in business so they can flush money to GOP presidential and Congressional candidates.

        Don’t wonder why working for a lifetime to pay Big Oil spill fines, fracking pollution and CEO salaries and perks forces you to live in mindless austerity and hardship. Cut the amount of money that goes to these businesses and watch the prosperity of the Middle Class rise again. Keeping flushing tax dollars to the rich and Corporations and watch the quality of life in the US go down the toilet.

        Vote out ALL GOP House members. They are the ones making decisions on how THEY, not YOU, want our tax dollars spent/

      2. dpaano April 2, 2015

        Sometimes Eleanore gets so excited about what she’s writing that she misses some spelling rules; i.e., bain should be bane.” I love her writing…I can figure out what she’s saying despite this!! You go Girl!!!!

  6. Eleanore Whitaker March 17, 2015

    The beauty of a woman like Hillary Clinton? She has been chewed down to her marrow by the GOP vengeful, vindictive men. Make no mistake that the reason Trey Twerpie Boy Gowdy is hot on her trail is because he is Karl Hater Boy Rove’s protege.

    It was always Rove, Reed, Prince and Starr back in their college days of white rich boy privilege who so loathed Clinton for managing to achieve a Rhodes Scholarship coming from a family headed by a single Mom. This is also the reason they so hate the president, his racial heritage, notwithstanding.

    Hater boys don’t die. They just teach their hate to the next generation who become ever more hateful and vengeful until we get fed up and slap them right back down to size.

    Reply
  7. Carolyn1520 March 17, 2015

    Hillary is a force. The GOP know this. As with all the changes that have upset their view of how the world should be , they fear her. They know she can hold her own in their arena and that terrifies them. They fear becoming obsolete.

    Reply
    1. Daniel Jones March 17, 2015

      Hillary is a force, Carly a farce.
      ~~
      This should be good.

  8. edddoerr March 17, 2015

    Why was Fiorina fired as head of Hewlett-Packard with a $21 golden parachute? Why did she lose her Senate election race? Didn’t she come off as a shrieking loony on Bill Maher;s show earlier this year?

    Reply
    1. ralphkr March 17, 2015

      Well, edddoerr, under Fiorina’s brilliant leadership she was able to reduce H-P’s value by over 50% and she was given a huge sum to go away before she could completely bankrupt H-P.

      1. dpaano April 2, 2015

        Imagine what she could do with the U.S. budget???

    2. Kanawah March 17, 2015

      Can you say “incompetent”?

  9. Daniel Jones March 17, 2015

    On average, women live LONGER then men unless they get kakked by mouth-breathing morons or driven to drink and dissipation.
    ~~
    Her age isn’t nearly an issue like the boys’ would be, so why are they making a bigger deal of it?

    Reply
  10. Kanawah March 17, 2015

    Not only more than one woman, but a woman who is not a woman who thinks she is a man in a woman,s body.

    Carlie is not qualified to be president. She almost ran HP into the ground, before she was fired.

    Reply
  11. Whatmeworry March 17, 2015

    She has faced decades of attacks, because she’s a woman???? Really name1 occurrence. She has been attacked because she’s a crook, a liar and incompetent She’s the 1 who paid her women staffers 70% of what she paid men

    Reply
    1. Daniel Max Ketter March 17, 2015

      Typical female republican = crook. God bless our labor unions.

  12. Whatmeworry March 17, 2015

    She has faced decades of attacks because she’s a woman???????? Really. She has been attacked because she’s honest and competent She’s the 1 who paid her women staffers = of what she paid men

    Reply
  13. John Irby March 17, 2015

    She makes Ann Coulter seem almost human, or at least almost humanoid. She brings to mind Dali’s “Young virgin auto-sodomised by the horns of her own chastity.” Better make that elderly virgin. Her picture above is one of frozen pathological virginity. From the Republican bag of dirty tricks, this trick may be on them.

    Reply
  14. jointerjohn March 18, 2015

    The GOP still sees elections all wrong. They think it is a process of hiring a spokesperson. Like their corporate masters, they think that they can bridge their gap with specific groups by offering a face. Black face, woman face, Latino face, all reading the cue cards of rich white males. Not a single one of their non-white female figures is genuine. All lackeys.

    Reply
  15. ericlipps March 19, 2015

    When it comes to assumptions about female candidates’ appeal to female voters, Democrats should watch their language as much as Republicans. In response to the support Republican men have expressed for Fiorina’s crusade, prominent Democrat Ann Lewis said, “These guys really believe it’s unfair that women are now running.”

    Don’t go there, Democrats. Republicans aren’t attacking Clinton because they think it’s unfair that women are running for president. They’re going after her because she’s strong and tough enough to be a serious threat. Clinton has earned the right to be a threat.

    Republicans are also attacking he simply because she’s a Clinton. They hate the Clintons for denying the first George Bush the second term they think was God’s plan for America.

    Reply
  16. Exx Bahx March 19, 2015

    Despite man-made global-warming fortune-tellers conjuring up fears of diminishing snow-pack and more forest fires, glaciers are advancing and forest fires declining.

    Reply

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