I had such mixed feelings listening to these women describe their political selves. They're clearly idealistic, want to be good citizens, make an effort to get the information they need. It was hard not to like them. Their delight in seeing a woman so close to real power was palpable. Yet I couldn't escape the fact that they took in little of politics, especially compared with their husbands, that their decision-making seemed impulsive and that their response to Clinton's candidacy was driven to an amazing extent by personality.The point here is that Hillary Clinton shouldn't count on women to get her elected. If she thinks women will vote for a woman because she's a woman, she's wrong.
They unwittingly confirmed my theory about why women don't decide elections....
Hirshman portrays woman as lame political actors. I get the impression that she's just exasperated that they don't reliably support liberal causes. Which, of course, wouldn't make them lame. Quite the opposite.
She seems to find it rather pathetic that they don't lock onto the political news the way men do, but that may be a perfectly sensible way to live a competent life. By contrast, it's rather crazy to be fretting about November 2008 right now. It's not so much that men are rational and women are emotional. Men just have different emotions. Male emotion tends more in the political junkie direction. "Junkie" is not the image of rationality.
Hirshman offers Clinton some advice on how to take advantage of women voters:
First, when it comes to women who vote, the political is the personal.... If the polls continue to reflect male aversion to her beyond the baseline male Republican tilt, Clinton may have to go personal to bring the women home. Maybe she could get a couch on casters.Hirshman's contempt for women is rather shocking. She goes on to suggest that Clinton open up her personal story:
[S]he has had the soap opera story of the century with that charismatic, faithless husband. This has made her suffer, something one of the Wednesday women specifically singled out as a reason to support a candidate. Will she be willing to open that old wound to convince potential female supporters that her policies, such as universal child health care, arise out of her concern for women like them, rather than being just the usual liberal agenda?She can't make Bill look bad now! And anyway, why would some personal sob story, even if it did show you really cared about children in some special way, make you seem as though you deserve the presidency? So you found yourself in a personal fix? Therefore we should put you in charge of the country?
The second lesson is that elections that turn on the female electorate bear an unfortunate resemblance to a popularity contest. The Republicans have succeeded with women at the polls when they've made Democrats look not just mistaken, but clownish or geeky. Reagan in blue jeans beat Jimmy Carter in a cardigan. George H.W. Bush looked like John Wayne next to Dukakis peering over the edge of a tank in a helmet. And who knows what would have happened if Kerry hadn't donned a wetsuit to go wind-surfing? Even the devil wears Prada. And women know it.Hirshman is well on the way to convincing us that women shouldn't have the vote! On the other hand, I'm totally planning to blog about what everyone's wearing and how they look in their photo ops. And isn't Mitt Romney dreamy?
Hey, Hirshman forgot to mention that in each of the cases she described, we picked the better boyfriend. And don't forget Bill Clinton. He's the best boyfriend. And Hillary's our rival. We're going to inspect her critically, because why does she have the best boyfriend? She's just using him! Oh, why doesn't he see that she's not that pretty and she's not that nice? In short, Hirshman fails to complete that "popularity contest" thought!