Hillary Clinton isn't macho enough to be VP

9 years ago

That is a really anti-feminist title. I'm sorry. But I do believe it's true for today's Democratic circumstance. When I worked for John Kerry in 2004, I watched in horror as the Republicans won because Americans felt decorated veteran Kerry wasn't macho enough to take on tough foreign policy challenges and Iraq. In front of our eyes, the Democratic ticket was painted as sissy, manipulative, more French than American, obssessed with their hair. This cannot happen again. So here goes....Imagine this classified ad:

Wanted, Democratic VP Candidate: Requires an experienced, competent, politically savvy politician with a keen commitment to policy reform, proven ability to win votes, and high public name recognition.

Know someone who sounds like a great candidate for that job? Senator Hillary Clinton could play policy reformer to Obama's charismatic leader, be a champion of the masses to complement his comfort zones of African Americans and latte liberals. Hillary (with Bill in the Tipper Gore role) would be a huge asset on a whistle stop campaign tour post-Convention, and a tenacious wonk when hammering out policy with the new Cabinet. In terms of competency, Hillary is ideal. In terms of fitting the zeitgeist, she's a bad idea in my opinion. Surveys show the majority of hiring managers hire based on issues of personality, likeability and cultural fit, not based on competency. Clinton for VP is a case in point.

There's been a lot of talk about how Clinton deserves the VP nod, whether or not she wants to take it. She did, after all, win almost as many votes as Obama (more, depending on who you ask in Michigan or Florida). She's the most famous woman in the world and beloved by some, respected by most. She's tough talking on foreign affairs, empathetic on the economy. The problem is, while she may be more alpha male than Obama himself, Hillary will never be a veteran. Even though she's hawkish on foreign policy, she never succeeded in convincing me she cared more about Middle East policy than she did about SCHIP or health care. That's a good thing, but it leaves a giant gaping hole in the middle of the Dem ticket, because Obama is no Dwight Eisenhower, and that's what we need when going up against McCain.

Media Matters sent out a note highlighting Conservative talk show pundit Joel Babbin's comment that Democrats "don't want to have both a black man and a woman on the same ticket for one reason: They are so racist and so sexist. They'll take a risk on one; they won't take a risk on two."

I know I'm supposed to argue this point, but I can't. I think there's truth to it but not because we're so racist and sexist. It's because we have a long history of associating black and female Democrats with everything but miitary might. If Obama had the military chops of a Colin Powell, for example, a woman on the ticket would be no problem, even a bonus. But running a militarily inexperienced "new man" candidate who happens to be African American requires a macho no. 2.

Faced against John McCain, the Democrats (already gendered as the "Mommy" Party in American politics, challenged by the GOP's mystifying ownership of guns, soldiers, and warfare in the minds of most Americans), need a soldier. Or at least someone who could convincingly play one. So while many may couch the Obama-Clinton ticket in minority overtones, that's only half the point. It's not the minority status that hampers Obama-Clinton, it's the amilitary, unmacho image that ticket conveys. Even Clinton-Gore had Al Gore, a Vietnam Veteran. The Democrats will never win over the majority of Americans who seek an executive team that knows its way around a tank in this era of war and foreign instability. While our country makes this transition to a candidate like Barack Obama, no. 2, at least, needs to be built in the model of traditional presidential executive: alpha male, experience with the military, far away from the Mommy Party. I already dread having to read five more months of "Obambi" barbs from Maureen Dowd. I don't want equal emasculation from the VP candidate.

What do you think? Assuming she wanted it, would Clinton be a good strategic choice for VP? Are the many millions of women who voted for her in the Primary owed this?

More thoughts:
Joanne Bamberger

Jimmy Carter says no

MahaBlog : "pathologically selfish."

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