Skip to comments.Clinton's female fans wonder what if...and when
Posted on 05/17/2008 5:35:19 PM PDT by Utah Girl
Philipina Heintzman, 81, drove 80 miles across the South Dakota prairie to experience history in the making: a woman running for president, something she never dreamed as a child that she would live to see.
That event, a Hillary Rodham Clinton rally in Bath on Thursday, also marked history unraveling.
As Clinton's prospects sink in the Democratic race, Heintzman and many women like her are feeling the poignant letdown of seeing the first woman with a strong chance at the presidency fall short.
"It would hurt my feelings a lot because I think she should be No. 1, she should be president," Heintzman said of Clinton's likely loss to Barack Obama. "Give a woman a chance to do something good."
From young feminist activists to the grandmothers who embrace Clinton along the rope line at her campaign events, many women who voted in large numbers for the former first lady during the primaries have begun mourning the turn of events. They know their dream of electing a female president this year probably will not come to pass and wonder when it ever will.
"For us, getting a woman elected is major," said Laurine Glynn, 72, of New York City. "We've waited, fought a lot for this. I do worry that my generation won't see a female president."
"Women are feeling a lot of sadness, disappointment and some anger as they look back at what happened in this race," said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
And at least part of that anger, Walsh says, is directed at the sexism that some feel seriously harmed the former first lady's candidacy from T-shirts bearing photos of Clinton and Obama with the slogan "Bros Before Hos" to Hillary Clinton nutcrackers sold in airports.
Women especially older white women have been at the center of Clinton's electoral base. During the primaries, she bested Obama among women overall 52-45 percent. Among women over 65, Clinton won by 61 percent to Obama's 34 percent.
Obama advisers note that he defeated Clinton among women in at least 12 states during the primary contest, in part because of overwhelming support for his candidacy among black women. Obama would be the first black president.
And among women under 30, Obama beat Clinton overall by a margin of 56-43 percent suggesting that they were more inspired by Obama's message of hope and political change than they were by the prospect of electing one of their own.
Paula Horwitz, 84, of Pittsburgh, said some younger women "just don't understand. They'll elect a man, and the men will keep on telling the women what to do." Horwitz displayed a Clinton sign in her front yard for the Pennsylvania primary won by the New York senator.
The generational rift became even more apparent last week, when NARAL Pro-Choice America, a leading abortion rights advocacy organization dominated by white female activists, endorsed Obama over Clinton producing an outcry among many in the women's movement who felt the group had betrayed one of its own.
Kate Michelman, the former president of NARAL who supports Obama, said Clinton didn't stand for the new direction that voters including many women now crave.
"Hillary Clinton represents the status quo at best, and keeps us rooted in a place we need to move from," Michelman said. "I've watched younger women come into their adult lives from a different set of experiences, and Hillary Clinton was not the president to make the transition to the newly inspired movement that we need."
For many women, Clinton's likely fate has also brought nagging questions for the future: Has the former first lady blazed a path, making it easier for the next wave of female candidates? Or has she merely shown how difficult it will be? And who might succeed her?
"What Hillary has done win, lose or draw has permanently changed the picture," says Marie Wilson, president of the White House Project, which trains women to run for office. "Next time, we're not going to have to prove that the public will vote for a woman. We won't have to prove competency. She has succeeded at that level."
Wilson pointed to several women with promising political futures who could one day seek the White House: Democratic Govs. Kathleen Sibelius of Kansas and Janet Napolitano of Arizona; Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; and Republicans like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Carly Fiorina. However, none has the name recognition, fundraising network or political connections Clinton was able to draw upon from the early days of her run.
Clinton's pioneering candidacy also won't necessarily mean the next female contender is going to have an easier time of it, warns Walsh.
"It will still be rough for women to come after her," she says. "They'll have to walk that balance of being strong and tough, compassionate and soft. When you're tough, you're called shrill, and the B-word. When you mist over, they say you're weeping."
To feminist writer Linda Hirshman, Clinton's likely defeat signals a harsh reality that future female candidates will need to consider.
"It shows how fragile the loyalty and commitment of women to a female candidate is. That's a pretty scary thing," says Hirshman. "She can count on the female electorate to divide badly and not be reliable."
For their part, Obama advisers said they believe that most of Clinton's female supporters will come their way eventually and won't throw their backing to Republican John McCain. The New York senator has already pledged to work actively on behalf of the Democratic nominee.
Many Clinton supporters hold out hope that Obama might consider choosing Clinton as his running mate. And since she is still relatively young at 60, some can envision another presidential bid.
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is supporting Obama, said his campaign was well aware of the disappointment Clinton's female supporters are likely to feel if she loses the race.
"I think the most important thing is that we stay focused on being incredibly respectful and admiring of who Hillary Clinton is as a person and what she represents as a leader," McCaskill said. "She's run a very strong race and deserves the passionate support she's received. I think the respect in the Obama campaign is genuine we don't have any problem understanding why millions support Hillary Clinton."
They never called Margaret Thatcher a “B...”..Hillary deserves that name because she IS one!
well I sure hope she dies nice and quick. ANyone who drives 800 miles to see hillary shouldn’t be sucking up social security.
What a bitter old bag. She's obviously never seen what happens to men in divorce/custody cases.
They come there wanting to feel estrogen. All they feel is testosterone. Must be global warming. Their sources could never be wrong.
Identity politics AGAIN. Yes, she’s no Maggie Thatcher, but don’t write that obit just yet....
Among the things I never dreamed as a child I’d see is me at my current age. I’m not disappointed that I have seen something that, at an early age, I never dreamed possible. I hope these poor women who didn’t get to see something they never dreamed possible can live with having not seen it become reality. It must be a real let down.
Wow! If that's the high point of that woman's life, she must have had one hell of an uneventful life.
There’s no fool like an old fool.
>> And at least part of that anger, Walsh says, is directed at the sexism that some feel seriously harmed the former first lady’s candidacy
Yep, gotta be that ol’ “sexism”. Couldn’t possibly be the woman’s character or message. No way!
They will need to add a new scene to Vagina Monologues. Picture a vagina whining and complaining. A scorned vagina is a dangerous thing.
Did this 81-year-old never hear of Shirley Chisholm?
These Hillary-groupies are just pathetic and proof, I suppose, that there's no fool like an old fool.
What a disappointment that must have been.
As they say "sometimes it's better to travel in hope than to arrive"
That's South Dakota for you...
Carly Fiorina? ROTFLMAO!!!!!!
That's typical female. Nothing about Hillary's agenda, accomplishments, nothing. Just feelings and give Hillary 'a chance.' because somehow she's supposed to deserve it because of her plumbing.
And lady, there have been plenty of women who've run for president, they've just been members of 3rd and 4th tier parties. I had lunch with one back in 1972. Shirley Chisholm also ran for president, I believe.
Hillary will divorce Bubba and begin looking anew in California?
Unfortunately, Carly Fiorina is one of the leaders of McCain’s campaign team!
I wasn’t paying much attention to politics when Lady Thatcher was in office, but from what I have read and heard about her, she could have thrown around the ‘sexist’ label to her opponents. That she didn’t shows that she is in a completely different class from Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton and many of her supporters.
I’m all for a female president, just not THIS one!
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