Even Bill Clinton got into the act and said the criticism of his wife is similar to the Swift Boat ads run against former Democratic nominee John Kerry. For Democrats, Swift Boat has come to mean using exploitive and deceptive tactics. Thus, the former president made the argument that challenging his wife’s public policy positions and questioning her flip-flops is deceptive and exploitive.
Senator John Edwards’ resident feminist, the former NARAL Pro-Choice America president, Kate Michelman, was unimpressed and questioned Mrs. Clinton’s character. “When unchallenged, in a comfortable, controlled situation, Senator Clinton embraces her political elevation into the ‘boy’s club,’” Ms. Michelman said in a statement released by Mr. Edwards’ campaign. “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.”
Senator Chris Dodd, the Democratic presidential candidate who started this debate by daring to question his opponent’s tangled non-response, put the discussion back into perspective.
“If elected to the presidency, there will be a lot of tough questions and if you can’t handle it in a debate without accusing everybody who has an issue with you of piling on or a sexist attack, somehow, first of all that’s unwise and, secondly, it’s false,” Mr. Dodd told the Associated Press.
This brings us back to Mrs. Thatcher. The world today, like the world then, is a dangerous place requiring strong leaders. Mrs. Thatcher demonstrated that a strong woman could successfully lead a powerful nation in times of trouble and risk.
In the 1990s, I had the honor to make her acquaintance through a mutual friend. My previous admiration for her strength and sense of purpose was validated during a week we spent vacationing with our spouses and a few friends. She commanded respect and trust. She did not ask for sympathy or special treatment because of her gender. The very thought would have been ridiculous to her. Not so for Mrs. Clinton.
Democrat primary voters will most likely overlook Mrs. Clinton’s critical flaw. Her lead in the polls is too great, her funding is substantial, and her campaign team is top-notch. This issue, however, will not go away. The nation seeks a strong leader, and Mrs. Clinton is not Mrs. Thatcher.
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