Friday, May 27, 2005

Somebody Had A Good Week

Sen. Hillary Clinton has had a very good week indeed. The climb peaked yesterday when a new Gallup poll showed for the first time that a majority of Americans were likely to vote for her if she runs for president in 2008. She has as much strong support to run as the current Bush had in 1998 (more than Al Gore had at that point), but she has stronger opposition than Bush did back then. Surprisingly, 33% of conservatives would likely vote for Hillary according to the poll.

The curious thing about this survey is that more than 70% of Americans said they would likely vote for an unspecified woman for president in 2008 if she were running. Part of that figure may be inaccurate; this is the kind of answer that would be considered "socially acceptable" to a participant, and if the question was asked before any involving Hillary specifically (which would seem logical), anyone answering "no" might see the lead-in and want to make a point. That said, is Hillary garnering support because of her credentials or because she's a woman? We no longer live in the American Dark Ages (pre-suffrage), and I think a lot of people want to see a woman in the Oval Office (possibly with a First Gentleman by her side). The upcoming television series "Commander-in-Chief", which features a female president, does not seem to have been made to force Hillary on people; instead, I expect the show was created knowing that the very idea is captivating for viewers. There is something symbolic about a woman as the leader of the free world in that it shows how far we've come. But what personal beliefs will we sacrifice to install that symbol? Are the 33% of conservatives supporting her doing so because they like her politics or because they like what she represents? To get a quote, I excerpt from the story:

Karen White, political director of the liberal group Emily's List, says the findings underscore growing acceptance of women as candidates, even for president. "People realize that women reach across party lines and are problem-solvers, and they want to see more of that in public life," she says.

It amazes me how some in politics gloss over the most obvious reasons for things. I really don't think this is about problem-solving and being a moderate, and to say that every woman out there fits this bill is ridiculous. The one woman that I believe best fits that profile would be Laura Bush, and I put the chances of her wanting to be president right alongside the chances of a Mack truck falling from the sky and landing in my backyard.

To top off Hillary's week, her former 2000 Senate campaign finance director, David Rosen, was acquitted of making false statements to the FEC. Although she was not charged, the fallout could have been disastrous for Hillary's political future. Many more turbulent storms are surely brewing for her as the opportunity to run for another Senate term draws near. Who shall weather them: a politician, or a symbol?

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