Saturday, November 3, 2007

Michelman Says Clinton is Playing Victim

John Edwards has been asking some tough questions, and they happen to be directed to a women-a women who wants to be president. In response, Sen. Clinton claimed to be the victim of political "piling on," a sexually-loaded term. Here's what Kate Michelman of NARAL fame, a women who is battle-tested, has to say about Clinton's effort to avoid tough questions from the men in the race: We've Come a Long Way, by Kate Michelman Remember the commercial: We've come a long way baby. Well, have we? That's the question American women need to ask themselves. We earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. We are 48% more likely to live in poverty than men. 17 million adult women lack health insurance. Millions of us struggle to balance jobs and the needs of our families. A long way? Not nearly long enough. But now that we have the first viable female candidate for President of the United States, things will get better for women, right? Her candidacy will positively affect public perception regarding women in politics and business - and that change will benefit all women - even the women struggling in dead end jobs, scrapping by on minimum wage, raising their families on their own? Not so fast. As women take a second look at the candidates, now that attention is focusing more on the issues and how each of the candidates would lead, how they would make decisions; now that making a choice is becoming real, less about celebrity, more about being president, legitimate questions are being raised about Senator Clinton. And we're all learning something. When unchallenged, in a comfortable, controlled situation, Senator Clinton embraces her political elevation into the "boys club." She is quick to assure listeners she is plenty tough enough, that she's battled tested, ready to play be the same rules as the boys. But when she's challenged, when legitimate questions are asked, questions she should be prepared to answer and discuss, she is just as quick to raise the white flag and look for a change in the rules. She then calls questioning, 'attacking;' she calls debate among her peers, 'piling on.' It's a political strategy, no doubt focus grouped and poll tested: make it look unseemly that this group of men would question her and hold her accountable for her record. It's trying to have it both ways; walk the fence, something Senator Clinton's good at. At one minute the strong woman ready to lead, the next, she's the woman under attack, disingenuously playing the victim card as a means of trying to avoid giving honest, direct answers to legitimate questions. As a woman who's been in the public eye and experienced scrutiny, as a woman who knows how hard it can be for women to earn their seat at the leadership table, how hard women have to work just to get the same opportunities, this distresses me. It is not presidential. Any serious candidate for president should have to answer tough questions and defend their record. Any serious candidate for president should make their views clear and let the American people know where they stand on issues. And any serious candidate for president should be held to the same standard - whether man or woman. Have we have come a long way? Well, far enough to know better than to use our gender as a shield when the questions get too hot.


Don Thieme said...

Watching that debate, I did feel that both Edwards and Obama were grandstanding on Clinton's failings as much as they were directing pointed questions at her. I would love to see a free exchange between the candidates, and I do think that Clinton needs to be called to account for some recent votes. However, I do think that it was Edwards and Obama who were giving rehearsed and "focus group tested" diatribes while facing toward their audience in this case.

Tina said...

A problem that all the candidates face when asked what they will do about this or that issue if elected President is that the international situation is so volatile and changeable. More than a "year's worth" of events will transpire between now and the last week of January 2009. Candidates aspiring to the presidency have no idea a year in advance what they will be facing if elected. A candidate who says firmly that he/she will take certain actions without fail runs the unenviable risk of making a liar out of himself/herself at some future time. A candidate whose rhetoric is measured and cautious runs the risk of "waffling" or being said to waffle. This is a problem that ALL the candidates, Democrat and Republican, have to face...a whole year, during which lord-knows-what will happen, before a new person can sit behind the desk in the oval office. Not only is the international situation unpredictable, but the US economy is also having some uppy-downy times. It might really be better if campaigns were shorter. Running for office would be less expensive and the rhetoric would be more to the point.

Amy Morton said...

You know I respect what you both think, and I'm glad to know that you were the other two people in the world watching the debate this week. :) Though I am supporting Edwards, I have been careful about criticism of any of the other candidates. We'll all be supporting the nominee, after all.


Aside from the "strategy" of all this, I really am very concerned about two things. 1) The questions Clinton was asked (by the other candidates and the moderators) were about action she has already taken (her vote on the Iran resolution) or things she has already taken a position on (Social Security). I disagree with her vote on Iran because it mirrors the Iraq resoluation that this administration used as a ticket to war. I am very troubled that she voted as she did, as I was troubled by her answer about troops in Iraq. She appears willing to commit to leaving combat troops in Iraq for the long haul. I do not support that.

On the Social Security question, and the driver's license question, I am troubled because she appeared to not be giving a straight answer to a yes or no question. On the dirver's license issue, I think either position is defenseable-but take one. Though he was not asked to explain at the debate, Edwards has answered the question since through his press person. He supports access to a drivers license for illegal immigrants who comply with a process toward citizenship, including paying fees and fines and learning the language. It was a fair question, and she didn't give a straight answer. Having lived through a GOP campaign that turned footware into a campaign slogan, we need for our nominee to give straight answers to fair questions. It was a fair question.

2)The questions from Edwards, Obama, Dodd and Biden are nothing compared to the attacks that the nominee will face from the GOP. Those who suggest that they are giving the GOP fuel for the general make two false assumptions. First, they assume that Clinton will be the nominee, and second, they assume that the Rove machine-the authors of swiftboat et. al.-need help to devise attacks.

There are real differences between these candidates, and the race is not over. The first vote is yet to be cast. We deserve to have a choice. We deserve to have real change in Washington, and, we deserve to know the differences between these contenders. If they stand silent, and allow anyone on the stage to go unchallenged, they do us all a disservice.