The Democratic candidates have landed, just in from somewhere out there in the stars. The surprise is that Hillary's from Mars, and Barack Obama's from Venus. She's tough; he's nice. She's strident; he's soothing. She insists that she's hard enough -- even mean enough when it comes to that -- and ready to be commander in chief on day one. Obama disagrees, naturally, and says he's ready to cooperate and negotiate with such adversaries as Iran, Syria and Cuba. Maybe even North Korea. He'll win them over with cooing, not confrontation.
The language of the Democratic campaign has become transgendered, upsetting all the traditional notions about the differences between men and women. In his book, " Men Are From Mars, Women Are from Venus" John Gray argues that men are motivated when they feel needed, women when they feel cherished. In the Democratic race for the nomination, Obama is cherished, drawing a cult-like following, and Hillary needs to be needed. At the moment, in fact, she's really needy.
Obama continues to cut into Hillary's core of women voters, and perceptions of "gender" continue to be a problem for her. She's hurt because Barack Obama has the flash and filigree of a movie star, and Hillary is the wonky gal with the brains. If Barack and Hillary were Sonny and Cher, he'd be Cher.
Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations and a Hillary loyalist, says Hillary understands that she's the workhorse and he's the show horse, and that runs against stereotypes. "She is being punished in a certain way for being competent and not jazzy," she tells the Boston Globe. "If he were female, with his credentials, age, and track record, I don't think he'd be anywhere near the presidency of the United States."
But if Hillary weren't the wife of Bill Clinton, she wouldn't be anywhere near the presidency, either. Hillary marches through crowds of women as if she were a mirror, reflecting many different images. Feminists who despised the way Bill Clinton treated her during their White House years further despised Hillary's Tammy Wynette imitation in response to his behavior with his bimbos. She wasn't the Amazon warrior then, eager to slay dragons in the boudoir. Women in New Hampshire applauded her showing her sensitive feminine side by tearing up on the trail. But a lot of other women (and men) didn't applaud, reckoning that showing such emotion plays to female stereotypes and diminishes her as a prospective commander in chief.