Can Hillary Clinton succeed in evading hard questions by raising the issue of unfairness to women? Aggressive and unprincipled women have never hesitated to use similar gambits.
Shel Silverstein wrote a funny children's poem, titled "Ladies First", about an imperious little girl who insisted on the privileges of her sex while grabbing the best stuff for herself and shoving her way to the front of the line. She met her comeuppance when she and her friends were surrounded by tigers.
"How about this one?" said the tiger chief.
"Nah, too boney," said the others.
"Well, what about this one? It's got a lot of meat on it!"
"Uh-uh. Meaty, but muscley."
"Oh, for heaven's sakes, don't take all night!" said the chief tiger. "I never saw such a pack of picky eaters. How about this one, then?"
"Looks tender... smells nice. In fact I never saw anything quite like it before. I wonder what it is?"
"I am a tender, sweet young thing."
"Oh, far out," said the tiger chief.
"I am also a little lady. You should know that by my lovely clothes and my lovely smell.
And if it's all the same to you, Tiger Tweetie, I wish you'd stop licking me.
And untie me this instant! My dress is getting mussed."
"Yes... uh..." the tiger said. "Well, as a matter of fact, we were all just... uh... trying to decide who to untie first."
"Ladies first! Ladies first!" she said. And so she was.
And mighty tasty, too.
I thought of that when I read of Hillary's campaign overheated response to the first real questioning of her at the last debate.
The object of the call, and a follow-up breakfast Thursday morning with campaign chairman and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Terry McAuliffe, was apparently to stop whatever bleeding the senator might have sustained during a debate in which Clinton wore a bull's-eye on her back throughout the evening.
Penn and Mantz said "a new phase" in the campaign had begun with about 65 days to go before the Iowa caucuses. They expect Obama and Edwards to go "negative on TV, and we're going to need the resources to fight that front."
While one supporter voiced his concern that the Clinton campaign is not devoting enough money and staff to Iowa, lagging behind Obama, most supporters who commented on the call expressed their displeasure with what they saw as the moderators' focus on Clinton.
One caller from Oklahoma City said that "the questions ... were designed to incite a brawl," and that Russert's and Brian Williams's moderating was "an abdication of journalistic responsibility."
Another said Russert "should be shot," before quickly adding that she shouldn't say that on a conference call [snip]
The Clinton campaign released a video Wednesday, entitled "The Politics of Pile On," showing clips of the senator's rivals going after her by name during the debate.
Until that night it appeared that she was going to repeat in a national campaign her New York "listening tour", where she traveled about listening to complaints from voters-often in the terminally economic disaster zones of her state-made vague promises to remedy everything and, surrounded by Secret Service men and hard blocking by her staff, avoided any inconvenient questions . And played the gender card when Lazio approached her in the debate.There were plenty of questions that begged to be asked of her then then
And there are now, as Jonah Goldberg notes, plenty of legitimate questions she is not being asked and should be.
Since when is it unfair to concentrate on the views of the frontrunner in a debate? Since when are opponents to be silenced because they are running against a woman-especially one who consistently attacks everyone else with impunity?
We are talking, after all, about a woman with more contradictions than it's possible to catalogue, not the least of which is that she postures as a tough leader independent of her husband at the same time she would never be running were she not his wife. She poses as a wronged woman when she played a significant role in covering up his misdeeds with other women.
Look. She's been extremely dishonest and evasive throughout this campaign in an effort to appeal to the party's base for the primaries while not offending those she needs to attract in the general election, and unless her opponents are willing to pin her down they are just wasting their supporters' money and the time of those watching the debates.
Watch what she wears to the next debate-if it's a black pantsuit, she's trying to project that she's powerful and masculine. If she's garbed in orange or pink, it's Ladies First time again. (At the last debate she wore brown. A major departure which will probably never be repeated.) Clarcie Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC.