January 29, 2007

"Women don't decide elections because they're not rational political actors... [T]hey vote on impulse, and on elusive factors such as personality."

Linda Hirshman editorializes in the Washington Post. She interviewed some woman about Hillary Clinton:
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.

They unwittingly confirmed my theory about why women don't decide elections....
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.

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!


KCFleming said...

Hirshman's article was better when it first appeared in the Anti-Suffrage Review in 1906.

Report on William Cremer in the House of Commons on women's suffrage (25th April, 1906)
"Women are creatures of impulse and emotion and did not decide questions on the ground of reason as men did.

He was too fond of [women] to drag them into the political arena and to ask them to undertake responsibilities, duties and obligations which they did not understand and did not care for.

What did one find when one got into the company of women and talked politics? They were soon asked to stop talking silly politics, and yet that was the type of people to whom we were invited to hand over the destinies of the country."

MadisonMan said...

Hirshman talked to six white upper middle-class women in DC. Why on Earth does she think they have their fingers on the pulse of America? What does an Editorial Writer and retired professor of Women's Studies know about statistics? Apparently very very little.

And even better question would be why did the editors of the WaPo think this was worthy of being printed?

Bruce Hayden said...

I am not sure I would call Bill Clinton the best boyfriend. It depends on what you wanted in a boyfriend. On the other hand, he is probably the best one night stand of our lifetimes running for president on a national ticket.

What I am suggesting is that he has never been the guy that most girls want to bring home and marry. He may be great in high school, when girls seem to be more worried about what the other girls think about a guy, than actually settling down with him. But later?

In any case, I am reminded of a fictitious scene (in SNL?) shown during the 2004 election where the Clintons, Kerry, and Bush all meet in a bar at Yale. Bill Clinton and George Bush send John Kerry to walk Hillary home, since they thought she was a lesbian, and Kerry was slowing them down with the other women in the bar.

So, in the long run, are all these women going to vote for or against the woman who tried to tame the "bad boy" by marrying him and failed? Of course, plenty of women try the same thing, most often with the same results. But I do know women who think that women who try to tame men like Bill Clinton to be self-delusional - but they are mostly Republican and wouldn't vote for Hillary, regardless.

BTW - back to word verification. Less work for Ann, but more for us.

Bruce Hayden said...

Besides, all that the tank-photo debacle proves is that a photo op needs to be staged to be effective; you can't just have guy + location + camera and expect a decent result. Technique counts for a lot in making someone look good.

But also judgment. I don't think that the Kerry camp really realized until too late how sissified that picture of him in the wet suit made him look. They and their friends probably have similar outfits, and thought nothing of it. But most of the country doesn't wind surf in florescent wet suits.

Of course, it was probably worse because of the War on Terror, etc., and Kerry already was looking a bit the sissy, since he never really got down and dirty, like Bush did working on his "ranch".

MadisonMan said...

But most of the country doesn't wind surf in florescent wet suits.

And who wind surfs when they're 50+? It's a sport for twentysomethingers. The photo made Kerry look ridiculous not only for the undignified wet suit, but also for trying to look young.

bearing said...

Hirshman's contempt for women isn't shocking. It's her bread and butter, along with the "interview six people and extrapolate to half the nation" technique.

Don't you remember the "Stay-at-home moms are ruining my dream of an equitable workplace?" manifesto?

Anonymous said...

These days we have public service announcements reminding us to "Speak with your kids. The more you know. . ." What rubbish. But in the old days educational movies like the one linked below gave advice that you could use!

Ladies: Know your limits

Ah, the good old days. How did we ever forget this common sense advice?

KCFleming said...

The primary task over the course of the 2004 election became , I think, to make Kerry look non-ridiculous, as 'ridiculous-appearing' appeared to be his natural or preferred state.

AllenS said...

Nothing made Kerry look goofier, than the photo of him crawling out of the space thingy with that condem-like suit on, with only his face showing.

Anonymous said...

It was the wind surfing, the flip flopping, the new fatigues and the sudden urge to hunt ducks, and so on, that Kerry tried to sell us an image of a real person. But meanwhile we knew he was a Boston blueblood with 26 mansions and his wife had used bad words.

Edwards wouold have done much better on the front end of the ticket.

Unfortunately Democratic caucuses are dominated by 20-somethings and for them Kerry played the right role.

But when adults come out to vote in November he was going to get clocked.

Lieberma or Edwards would have done much better with adults.

Hillary's quite beautiful in person. The TV brings the angry lines in her face out. I don't think she can beat Rudy, Jeb or John McCain, especially if Al Qaida makes another surprise visit over the next 18 months.

Anonymous said...

What an absurd column and waste of valuable newspaper space.

Anonymous said...

Linda Hirshman, ugh! This is the woman who chastised Ivy League women for wasting their talent by having children.

I don't think she likes her uterus or women very much. Perhaps this is one more case of her projecting her penis envy.

Anonymous said...

"And isn't Mitt Romney dreamy?"

Why, yes. Yes he is.

I never got the support that Mitt was getting until I watched this hour long speech from NRO's Conservative Summit.

It's in Quicktime format but well worth checking out.

Dreamy isn't usually a word I use, especially for guys. But I remember the women after Clinton got elected. I'll never forget the "man on the street" interview where one woman said, "Oh, he's so handsome!!" First off, blecchhhhh. Secondly I'll take every advantage the GOP can get to retain the Presidency.

Bruce Hayden said...

For me though, Kerry's snowboarding was worse than his windsurfing. First, like windsurfing, it was done to be hip, and he is too old for that. He should have been shown skiing instead. Second, he wasn't very good at it. He had lousy form (my guess from the video is under a week's experience on a board). And third, he ran into a Secret Service agent, and blamed the SS for it. At his skill level, it was almost assuredly his fault for failing to check his blind spot.

Joe Giles said...


I think you're right that the GOP candidates/advisors have frequently riled up the masses with fearful predictions of what will come to be.

And then the Democrats go ahead and prove 'em right.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't really condem Kerry for sailboarding, just as I don't for snowboarding. Rather, it was his team's decision to showcase him doing such. I know 50 something sailboarders (including one brother), and some snowboarders in that age bracket too. Indeed, I know some instructors in their 50s or so who switched from skiis to boards for their knees.

But it was first the decision to showcase those sports that I fault. And second, most of the older male sailboarders I know wear monochrome, usually black, wetsuits.

What his sailboarding outfit said to me was that he was rich enough to have a new outfit, vain enough to wear a fashionable one, and dumb enough not to realize how much a sissy it made him look.

Bruce Hayden said...

I would guess that the best husband material were the winning criteria, that Romney would be the one: he is rich, smart, monogamous, and good looking. How often do you find rich and good looking going with loyal, monogamous, and family oriented?

Mortimer Brezny said...

The best part about Romney is that every girl can have him at once.

Bruce Hayden said...

Hillary's problem, as I see it, with going on Oprah and opening up about her faithless husband, etc. is that while it will win some women, it will turn off others. And it will really turn off the guys.

There are plenty of women who pick "bad boys" to marry, and it often turns out badly. They seem to be the victims of life. And they are likely to love Hillary for such a revelation.

But there are plenty of women who looked at the Bill Clintons and decided that that choice was stupid, and picked the guy who was more likely to be the good husband. And they aren't going to be impressed with Hillary's choice and what she went through for it.

As for a lot of guys, Bill Clinton was the type of guy that many hated. All the girls wanted to sleep with him, but not with them. Marrying them was fine, just not sleeping around with us.

So, Hillary was the one who married him. What does that make her look like to all these normal guys? Stupid. Which is not what she and her handlers want us to think about her.

How can any guy take seriously a woman who thinks that she can change a Bill Clinton?

So, to follow the suggestion that she open up about her problems with her marriage is a double edged sword - likely to turn off as many as it attracts.

Bruce Hayden said...

Mortimer Brezny

Except that polygamy has been apostacy with members of Romney's church for better than a century now.

You don't really get a feeling for this until you spend some time in Utah, where many have polygamists in their family trees, but would be the first to throw in their torch to start a fire to burn a modern polygamist at the stake.

Joe said...

All my wife's online friends are female. For whatever reason, the vast majority are liberal. They despise George Bush and throw their support behind whoever they perceive is the leading democrat. Last time it was Kerry. Currently, it's Hillary. Next year it will be someone else. My point being that they don't give a whit about the issues, just whether their candidate can score points against Bush. They forgot one thing; Bush isn't running in 2008 and that, methinks, will be the downfall of many a democrat.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Except that polygamy has been apostacy with members of Romney's church for better than a century now.

It is true it has been a po' Stacy, because Stacy's hubby has three other wives. Po' Stacy!

Wade Garrett said...

There's a famous line from the television program 'The West Wing,' in which a political consultant hired by the White House says about the presidential campaign: "I love it when the women get involved."

The women working on the campaign took offense, until later in the episode the consultant discusses how every election some marginal personality issue, like who would be the better babysitter, or who looks more like a good grandfather, suddenly becomes really important in the middle of the race and really does effect the way in which tens of thousands of women vote. On the show, at least, the other women on the campaign acknowledged that he had a point. Then again, the show was written and directed by men.

Bill Clinton taking two steps towards the black woman who asked him a question during the town hall-style debate in 1992 is one such example of this, and I remember during the 2000 campain that a LOT was made of the fact that something like 65% of mothers would rather have George W. Bush babysit their child than Al Gore.

amba said...

It's not so much that men are rational and women are emotional. Men just have different emotions.

Good to hear that. Some of the stereotypes are so stupid, yet they seem locked into people's brains to the point that they can't see what's in front of their eyes. Like the one that always bugs me -- "Oh, little boys are wrestling and getting dirty and little girls are having doll tea parties," when their own little girls are hanging upside down from tree branches, thumbing their noses.

Anonymous said...

Mark Twain has a funny bit about Mormon polygamy. He was jealous until he saw that Mormon women are such ugmos, he said, and then he realized that Mormon men are good eggs to not just marry one such, but to take on two or more!

That's probably true with the 72 Virgins problem in the Al Qaida scheme: hey, we forgot to tell you they are all demented ugmos!

amba said...

All this just goes to show why Hillary can't get elected. If she is the candidate, the campaign will be a huge gender-glee circus; then she'll lose.

P.S. She is widely perceived as having married Bill for reasons of farsighted political ambition. In that sense, it wasn't so stupid (in the liberal world, anyway).

Anonymous said...

You know, half the women in America hate Hillary. I just do not see how she is a viable candidate with those negatives. Among the faithful Democrats and liberals she might win, but I cannot see that happening when the entire country is involved. And she will be slammed by the liberals for supporting the war, so she can't count on all of them either.


vbspurs said...

You know, half the women in America hate Hillary.

It's especially true that women hate Hillary, in my experience.

Someone said that Hillary is hated by women in the same way they hate Martha Stewart. I disagree.

If we were to generalise, women dislike Stewart because she is Miss Perfect, and shows up other women in ways that hurt women's view of themselves (homemaking, creativity, drive for perfection).

Women hate Hillary because she's shrill inside but presents a balanced exterior -- it's the hypocrisy, stupid.


Revenant said...

As for a lot of guys, Bill Clinton was the type of guy that many hated. All the girls wanted to sleep with him, but not with them.

I can't think of anyone I know who looked at Monica Lewinsky, or any of Clinton's other mistresses, and thought "wow, that lucky guy".

JFK nailed Marilyn Monroe. *That's* something to feel jealousy about. Clinton was more the kind of guy who'd sleep with anyone willing, which is just kind of sad. I heard more than a few guys make remarks along the lines of "he's the most powerful man in the world and that's the best he can do?".

Anonymous said...

Can't we just all agree that women are far more cattier than men....and leave it at that ???

Women cannot work together in an office setting, as they undermine eachother at a far more frequent rate than men do other men.

.....And women drivers are the worst, we all know that.

If I were stuck on a desert Island I wouldn't want to spend it with some hysterical woman.

Men are better.

Women cannot lead.

End of story.

Peace, Maxine

Habu said...

Women are discovering that the uber woman was a deceit,a fraud. They can't do it all, no one person can. Job,raise a good family that's not dysfunctional etc.
Women are however more emotional than men and my God when the sync up in the office for "the period" it's like hell on earth.
They're much better at nurturing than making war, which unfortunately is the time broken only by short periods of peace.
But I cannot imagine life without them, it would be so vacant.

Anonymous said...

OK, it is late at night and I am tired. And I just cannot parse the sarcastic misogyny from the genuine. But I thought the quoted post was biased as hell speaking of women as irrational political actors. I just do not think that gender and race are as important a distinction as achievement and ideas. Perhaps that is why I am a conservative.


DAA said...

Hirshmans article was educational. Until now I thought feminists hated men

virginia haase johnston said...





Do you know who I am?
I am dignity
Finally my self esteem
Speaks of me
Sees me
To place me
Before thee

That you will spare me
The indignity that
Has happened in my past
Set before me
In your morbid light
That would set you
So above me

You think this does
Not happen now
Yet it does
Jane would know
You think it has changed since far ago

And know
Now I can realize
I can look down upon you
From the height of myself
As you once did me



For do you know who I am

I am Artemee’s and Robert’s
Dutiful granddaughter
This boatman and farmer and that constable
Salted in the rights of
Cuchulainn’s daughter
Raised in the dignity of the Mystic Carmen Sylva
Named for her raised for the pride of her
Raised beyond your slight of her
A Jew A Greek A Roumanian
Scandanavian French Scots Irish
The Roumania Greek Orthodox, Jew and Protestant
The spirituality that is as a thread woven through my life from her

You are forgetting who we are from her
You Anglicized past her
And I held my grace with her
I can not forget my common past
The greatness I felt in being Earl’s daughter

You think I can forget the dignity & passion
That drove those men to find their place in this harsh world and land
Jane would know
I so feel the self respect from her/them

Do you know your place?

Remember that

Do you know who I am?

I am Americas 2nd daughter
Not the pride of the DAR the seed of the revolution

I am the seed of the émigré’
Coming here to fill the vast empty spaces
Sheltered in those spaces by invitation

“Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breath free”


I am the 2nd daughter 2nd generation 2nd wave of the future
Umbrellaed by the Thomas Jefferson and the Constitution
He so knowingly wrote
Knowing that émigré would not stop at Scots & English & Welsh Anglican
It would encase, enclose and enmesh all
All nations all races ALL GENDERS

So knowingly he embraced all of the freedoms
we would need to protect our
freedom and freedoms


And I and my sister Hillary Clinton stand under that light
Though you belittle us make us only slightly smaller
That slightly is enough for me to say

Do you know who I am

I am America’s daughter

grandfather Quarter Master Sargent Zenofor Hortopan WWI
daughter Sargent Earl Melvin Johnston WWII
uncle Petty Officer Walter Swick WWII
uncle Petty Officer Guy Robert Johnston WWII
brother Lance Corporal John Zenofor Englemann Vietnamese War
nephew Airman Ben Englemann Civil duty
son Lance Corporal Christopher Marc Lenehan Desert Storm


Do you know who I am

A woman

Hillary’s sister

Jane would understand

The cradle at
Whose breast
We nurtured
This nation



What this nation needs






This is written for Hillary Clinton and she may use it any way she chooses with my permission Virginia haase johnston