A New Clinton Meme?

Posted: Mar 17, 2008 3:53 PM
Kudos to this New York Times piece by Kate Zernike for the most creative use of the Eliot Spitzer scandal.  It argues, in fact, that reaction to the scandal might cause young women to rethink Hillary Clinton's candidacy to some degree:

Younger women, for their part, are starting to have what [Columbia law professor and director of its sexuality and gender clinic Suzanne] Goldberg calls “the aha moment” — even if it doesn’t put them in Mrs. Clinton’s column . . .

How much would the Clinton campaign like for this meme to catch on?

Well, perhaps the wish is father to the thought.  To the extent that anyone feels more inclined to support Hillary Clinton after last week, it's less likely because reactions to the Spitzer scandal are inflaming latent feminist passions, than because it reminds them of Hillary's service as high priestess of victimhood when she "stood by her man" in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal.

There's no question that Hillary Clinton has earned her share of "slings and arrows" (some of them unfair) that she probably wouldn't have had to endure, were she not a woman.   But that's different from arguing that the very lively opposition she excites exists simply because she's a woman.  Feminists should be honest enough to acknowledge the difference.

Part of the problem is that Hillary came to prominence on her husband's coattails and then acted entitled to take over.  Part of the problem is her glaring lack of authenticity.  Part of the problem is her obvious, quasi-desperate need for political power.  And there's much more that's completely unrelated to her sex.

Of cousre, it's foolish to believe that the first woman to win The White House will have had as easy a path there as a similarly-situated man -- there's the difficulty of projecting sufficient toughness to seem like a credible Commander-in-Chief without seeming unfeminine, the scrutiny about appearance, etc.  But it's equally foolish to insist that young women are experiencing a revelation when they realize that voting for Hillary Clinton is some kind of feminist imperative.