Friday, June 15, 2007

Who's for Hillary. And Who Isn't.

From The New York Times Blog: By Judith Warner
According to a Washington Post – ABC News poll published earlier this week, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most consistent and enthusiastic female support is now coming from high school graduates with incomes of less than $50,000 a year. Young women like her best. Over age 45, college-educated, higher-earning women like her least. In fact, asked who they found most “honest,” “trustworthy” and “inspiring,” these women – Clinton’s peers – expressed more of a kinship with Barack Obama. ...

“Upper-middle-class women are more judgmental. They see her as polarizing; they second-guess how she handled her personal issues. Non-college women react to this argument with: ‘They always say this about women. They always try to drag the woman down.’” ...

Melinda Henneberger, political editor of the Huffington Post, found similar Hillary-hostility among the senator’s best-educated and most successful peers around the country as she traveled, talking to women about politics, before and after the publication of her recent book, “If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear.”

“She rubs a lot of women who are like her the wrong way,” Henneberger says. “There’s a feeling that she’s too poll-tested; that she’s too willing to say what’s required. Obama, Hennebeger says, strikes these women as “authentic.” Hillary does not....

I wonder if it’s precisely the things that make non-college-educated women feel an affinity with Hillary – her toughness, her independence and her sometime status as an underdog – that alienate the elite. I worry that there may be among some elite women a certain disregard for, even a certain distaste for, the bread and butter middle class family issues that Hillary has placed front and center. ...

But I’ve repeatedly found that better-off women, who have decent health care, child care, education and, to a greater degree, job flexibility, tend to often be hostile to this sort of communitarian notion of shared responsibility. (“Do you want the government raising your children?” is the frequent riposte.) They’re big believers in the American ethos of individual “choice” and “personal responsibility”; after all, being the winners in our society, it has worked out well for them. And they – rightly – perceive that they’re bound to be the losers, tax-wise, if their own gated community of family comfort is opened up to the larger village.

But that’s political. What rankles about Hillary – so uniquely – among better-off women is much more personal at base. Is it possible, now that stay-at-home momdom has become a fixture of the suburbs and when wealthy women have bailed out of the workforce in the face of family pressures, that the image of one who toughed it out – uninterruptedly, and with little or no publicly expressed angst – is less than welcome?

I don't like this piece, and do not find it persuasive, but it seems likely to provoke some interesting discussion.

One early comment from the Times board:
Clinton is the only candidate who manages to sound in person like one of these annoying taped messages that candidates and their hangers-on leave on our voicemail.

And another:

I get tired of these overgeneralizations of women who do do not support Hillary… jealous, resentful, self-absorbed. I like her - I do! Really! I especially admired her in the 90’s when she took social issues head-on. However, I will not be voting for her in the primaries. Her voting, comments, and behavior during the lead-up to the Iraq war reveals that she will do what is politically expedient over what is right when the pressure is on. I prefer my leaders to make the hard choices rather than keeping on convenient blinders (”If I knew then what I know now.”) for what she thought would be personal and political gain.
I prefer a candidate who will take the high road. This stay-at-home Ohio mom is voting for Obama!

And one more:

As a woman with a post-graduate degree who has no children and lives a comfortable upper-middle class life, I like Hillary for all the reasons described: her toughness, her ability to make a family and a career, her words of interest in the issues of children and families, her spoken understanding that we all must contribute to the community, to the well being of children. I do not like Hillary because of her equivocation when she discusses the occupation of Iraq, because her coffers are lined by the money of pharmaceuticals and other corporations, and because at a critical moment of our history, when the constitution is under attack, she has not stepped up to lead, to help us understand and forge a new path. I don’t like Hillary because while Iraqi children, mothers and fathers were dying and US soldiers coming home in body bags, she was playing politics with banning flag-burning. I worry that she uses her ‘authenticity’ to sell a picture of herself that is not the same picture created by her policies. Like her husband, another authentic candidate, I worry that Hillary’s greater commitments are to the moneyed class and corporations. By the way, I am not a fan of Barack Obama either. He has not convinced me that his policies would be any different from Hillary’s.

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