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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The New Era of Sexism

Whitney M. Duck

Now that Hillary Clinton has lost her bid to be the 2008 Presidential Nominee, the pundits have begun to tear her and the Democratic primary race of 2008 apart. There has been a chorus of, "What did she do wrong?" sung on a daily bases. Senator Clinton made some blatantly bad mistakes with one being her campaign staff misjudged the importance of the caucus states. The Clinton staffers also took too much for granted. Without a doubt, this 2008 primary race will be taken apart and rerun a million times before the general election occurs.

The Democratic primary was history making! The press and students of political science will relive the 2008 campaign from this time forward. The running of not only a women candidate but an African American candidate, will serve historians well into the future. The 2008 primary season will serve as a benchmark for all of those who run in the next presidential cycle. History was made in June and will not likely be forgotten.

My concern arises in that; maybe the public raised the "ladylike" factor a bit too much in 2008. When a new women throws her hat into the presidential race, what will the American people want and expect from this candidate? Let's face it; Hillary Clinton rubbed too many voters and the press the wrong way. Her personality was a mixed bag. The real Hillary was often hard to define. She was often accused of being in the moment. Her emotions ran the gambit and many voters felt as though they were being taken for a ride.

For my part, I thought Hillary was doing what politicians do best, play for the moment... Politics is a game that is played in the here and now. Speeches get tweaked for audiences. What may work for one group in Pennsylvania, may not play for another in Ohio. Senator Clinton was very good at sensing her audience and making the correct adjustments. This is not a character flaw but good politics. Senator Clinton was able to learn the game. Hillary showed that she could play with the big boys and win. She was able to shape and reshape her message as needed. This shaping of message has been part of running for national office for years!

Politics is not a clean game. Deals are made and money is exchanged. Senator Clinton had been running for the presidency for over 18 months. She also raised money for fellow Democratic office seekers and she wanted their support in return. She was able to make the necessary political connections with many of the current sitting Governors and members of Congress. Senator Clinton is not the first person to do this nor, will she be last. In truth, this was not enough to win the nomination. In fact, her deal making with others seemed to offend some.

Senator Clinton did what every other male politician had done before her. She went forward, raised money, got support and tried to harvest delegates for the convention, before the race was run. This is not a new form of politics but many did not like it. Names such as "opportunist" and "calculating" were thrown about. For the most part, politicians are opportunists and they calculate the odds of winning. Why are these traits now so awful and unflattering? By applying these traits to Senator Clinton made them seem "unladylike".

More often we apply these traits to male office seekers and do not bat an eye. Surprise! Women can be "opportunist" and "calculating"! Why is it more shocking to see a women behave in this manner? Why is it that only men can be assertive in their political careers? Isn't that a tab bit sexist? I think it might be.

Senator Clinton had to endure criticism from everything to her hair color, to the wearing of the famous pantsuit. I did not and still do not hear many poke fun at either Senator Obama's or Senator McCain's choice of suit. Senator Clinton's personality was picked apart and every move she made was placed under a microscope. I grant anyone out there that Senator Clinton might be a bit on the difficult side but often those who chose politics as a career have a rough side to them.

Senator Clinton went toe to toe with the best of them and she lost anyway. Money, issues, attitude, and her strengths could not overcome her personality. I want to believe that she lost not because she is Hillary Clinton but because she was not the right person for this race.

Senator Clinton opened up many new doors and minds. We should all praise her for that and leave gender and personality aside.

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