Sara Vanden Berge
Bill Clinton had Ken Star. Superman had Lex Luther. Tom had Jerry.
And now Senator Hillary Clinton has Elizabeth Edwards.
It didn’t take long for a catfight to ensue in the political arena.
After all, for the first time in U.S. history, a viable, female candidate is running for president. Trouble is, the men she’s taking on happen to be married to equally strong women, and with so many chicks in the mix, the estrogen level is palpable and the drama factor has skyrocketed.
(Hang on a sec while I hide my ponytail so it doesn’t get pulled.)
Making the ticker tape these days are remarks John Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, made to Salon.com where she said her husband would make a better president for women than Clinton.
“I’m sympathetic - she (Hillary Clinton) wants to be commander in chief. But she’s just not as vocal a women’s advocate as I want to see. John is. And then she says, or maybe her supporters say, ‘Support me because I’m a woman,’ and I want to say to her, ‘Well, then support me because I’m a woman,’” Elizabeth said in the interview.
It seems that Elizabeth is miffed that Hillary isn’t speaking out enough on women’s issues. She wants Hillary to be a woman’s woman. You know, talk less about war and more about Nordstrom’s shoe department. Things that really matter to women.
Meanwhile, the male candidates are back at the cave trying to woo women in their own way. While the girls are bickering, Barack Obama has been heard waxing eloquent about how watching soccer gives him the warm and fuzzies. John Edwards has been filmed pushing little old ladies around in wheelchairs.
Translation: We love women, especially you soccer moms and grannies. Now vote for us.
Not a bad strategy, given that the female vote could decide the Democratic nominee. The issue, however, is more difficult to balance when you’re the only female on the ticket. Hillary has to run her campaign like a circus, walking a high-wire act that delicately balances the fact that she’s a woman running for what has historically been a man’s job. She is expected to show that she has a special connection with women while proving to men that she’s capable of being the boss.
So what’s a girl to do? Does she play up her femininity or does she scratch, spit and host poker night? Gloss her lips or wear a pair of wing tips?
When Elizabeth says she wants Hillary to support her, what she’s really saying is that she wants Hillary to strictly pander to women voters.
One way for Hillary to lose her chance at becoming the next president is to play up her gender. Men are voters too. And while women have unique issues that must be addressed, this country will never elect a woman to the presidency who doesn’t appeal to both sexes.
Hillary is smart enough to know she needs both the male and female vote to win.
And Elizabeth Edwards knows it too.