Janice Shaw Crouse

The media have made much of Senator Hillary Clinton’s new campaign to show her “softer side” and her more feminine self. The comics have had a heyday questioning whether she even has a softer, more feminine side. Cynics like me recognize that this is a calculated effort to win the presidency. With her current support pretty much limited to single women (who are already in her party’s camp anyway and, alas for her, tend to vote in limited numbers), Hillary has to reach out to married mothers if she wants to “expand her territory” (to use the latest fad in Evangelical lingo, since so much of the married mother vote is religious).

So, the woman who famously “doesn’t bake cookies” now eschews male talk in order to chat with the women. And the woman who can be as tenacious and tough as any guy now wants to giggle about how long it takes her to do her hair. Her advisors are convinced that women will sway the 2008 election, so the former First Lady is reduced to a cold, cynical appeal to the women she formerly disdained.

Hillary is getting good response from her well-trained remarks criticizing President Bush’s “tax cuts for people like Bill and me” and her carefully parsed turn-of-phrase, “I’m not interested in attacking anyone. I am interested in attacking the problems of our country.” She always gets a laugh among older women with a wry comment about how the male presidential candidates are attacking her, saying, “when you get to be our age, having that much attention from all of these men ...”

As all politicians are aware, mature women (especially those who are married and have children) vote at higher rates than men and are credited with being the determining factor in recent elections. Women are especially influential in primary elections because they respond to the issues –– particularly moral and social concerns as shown in CWA’s poll of the “Bible Study Moms.” Remember the campaign for the “Soccer Mom”? Now all the candidates are suddenly getting religion, and the only female candidate is appearing on daytime talk shows to “reach out” to the stay-at-home, cookie-baking moms with a double-edged message: “After this administration, we need a massive cleanup, and who is historically better at cleaning up?”

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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