When I got home from work today, I flicked on the TV, but I didn't look at it. The channel happened -- just happened -- to be C-Span. Hillary Clinton was giving a speech about the minimum wage, but I wasn't paying attention to what was being said. I was just hearing the voice, thinking it sounded familiar, and wondering who it was. I concluded it was Roseanne Barr and started to focus, waiting for the punchline. I glanced over at the screen and saw it was Hillary.
Oh, no! No, no, no! How is that going to resonate with ordinary Americans? Personally, I like -- or have liked -- Roseanne, and I don't have a problem with women sounding like that. And maybe I shouldn't put myself in the place of other Americans and imagine their resistance to certain womanly types. I'm just offering up my observation for whatever it's worth. I can't see into the future, and I don't know who the first woman President will be. (I assume there will be one some day.)
I don't know what psychological barriers people will need to cross to accept a woman President. She has to be strong enough to overcome the doubts people will have that a woman won't be strong enough, and she has to have some undefined additional quality that makes it acceptable for her to be a woman and to be that strong.
Can the first woman to get at all close succeed in leaping the whole way? I'm not going to say she can't.
IN THE COMMENTS: Someone posts a link to this clip of Don Imus and Rush Limbaugh listening to and freaking out about Hillary's voice. I think there's a pretty simple solution. Hillary Clinton needs to be carefully miked so that her voice is plenty loud for the room without her trying to project as if she were not miked, and she needs to remember to speak in a microphone voice. Her problem is very similar to Howard Dean's disastrous scream: What might seem fine and even thrilling in a crowded, lively room sounds ugly on the recording. I realize that you've got to excite the people in the room and the recording will also be bad if the crowd is listless and unresponsive, but it's the recording that millions will hear, and anything awful will be replayed endlessly. In that clip, Hillary Clinton goes into what Don and Rush hear as an insane hag voice because she's trying to make sure that when she gets to the end of that line the crowd will burst into a great, roaring cheer. In person, she gets her crowd roar and feels successful, but she's generating audio clips that will be used to make people hate her.