Suzanne Fields

Hillary escapes the pillory. The Obama drama heads for an uncertain second act. John Who? Mac's back. Mitt's bruised, but fit. Mike's still in the fight. Is this a great country, or what?

George Washington didn't want a party system, thinking political parties, like the Democrats and Republicans, would contribute to "mischiefs of spirit" and agitate the community with "ill-founded jealousies and false alarms," kindling "the animosity of one part against another." Well, George was not only a great general, but also a wise prophet. But political parties also provide grist for argument and debate that falls between the polarities of ideology, forcing discrimination. Sometimes the candidates even say something real.

For a week before the New Hampshire primary, we heard an endless variety of simple recipes for resolving complicated issues. Something called "change" was prescribed as the chicken soup that would cure everything. We might have been voting for the chef-in-chief. "Change" was offered hard-boiled, deep-fried and marinated for grilling. If Walter Mondale were running this year, he would still be searching for the beef in the stew.

Not so long ago, "change" was a negative applied to Hillary Clinton. As first lady, she was accused of changing her hairstyle as often as she changed her shoes, which suggested she couldn't make up her mind about the little things in life. Wasn't that just like a woman? Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. For a while in this campaign, she was accused of not changing enough, of hanging tough, of sticking to her guns, of withholding emotion. (Wasn't that just like a man?)

"Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House," wrote Gloria Steinem in the New York Times the day before the New Hampshire primaries. Hillary, in the feminist formulation, had it tougher than Obama and had to guard against showing too much female "difference." Ms. Steinem, like the rest of the pundits, consultants, pollsters and wise men, was wrong.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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