Syndicated conservative columnist John Podhoretz thinks Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has what it takes to become the first woman president of the United States. But the right-wing pundit says its not her political skills, qualifications or charisma that could propel her into the White House, but rather that "she is a bitch." Podhoretz's contention is that Americans want in their president the overall qualities of a leader: tough, strong, resolute. In short, someone with male qualities.
"Just for vulgarity's sake," Podhoretz said, "let me put it this way: She's got to be a bitch. And Hillary is a bitch. Her challenge will be to play up her anti-feminine qualities without being completely without charm and appeal."
But Podhoretz asks, "If the public is looking for a tough guy, won't the public want a guy? Maybe. On the other hand, if there were ever an American woman politician who could pass for a tough guy, it's Hillary Clinton."
Podhoretz believes the ground rules are very different for male and female candidates. "Male pols these days have to show they have a touch of the classically feminine about them--compassion, caring, nurturing--in order to appeal to women. Female pols need to show they can be manly. In this way, Hillary's lack of femininity is the first, maybe the only, real political advantage her feminist toughness affords her. And it helps explain why she must be taken seriously as a powerful threat to Republicans and conservatives." That's the most back-handed compliment I've ever read.
A woman running for president, Podhoretz continued, "needs to be flat. She needs to be cold. She needs to have a hard, almost unbreakable shell...She has to be a little scary, a little intimidating, a little off-putting so that she gives the impression that she can handle the crisis and catastrophes that come a president's way."
Can you imagine if this sort of highly offensive personal attack was directed at a high-ranking conservative female? Could you imagine the fallout if some left-wing columnist called Laura Bush, Elizabeth Dole or Kay Bailey Hutchinson a bitch? The GOP'd raise holy hell. There's such a double-standard in American politics today. People expect the Repug's to engage in the politics of personal attack, and to play as dirty as possible. And they are all too happy to deliver on that expectation.