Via Greg Pollowitz at NRO's Media Blog, let us reflect on the National Organization for Women issuing a report finding deeply ingrained sexism in the coverage of Hillary Rodham Clinton. The NOW gang resents candidate profiles "that trivialize female politicians by focusing on their clothing, hair, or taste in home décor, and those that position gender as her most important characteristic, playing on gender stereotypes in order to call into question her ability to provide strong, effective leadership."
Let's take the second complaint first. Since when has NOW -- which even endorsed the hapless Carol Moseley Braun for president in the 2004 cycle when she had as much chance of being elected president as write-ins like Ryan Seacrest did -- ever failed to position gender as a woman's "most important characteristic" when deciding between liberal candidates? (We understand they would never vote for Phyllis Schlafly.)
They seem to be saying don't isolate "gender stereotypes" like women being sensitive and mothering if it gets in their way of being perceived as a credible commander-in-chief. But then when the concerns turn to bread-and-butter issues like health care or education, then the gender stereotypes should be a tremendous advantage, and that's okay.
For what it's worth, I'd guess that Senator Clinton's positions on Iraq are very much like John Kerry's -- she was for it before she was against it, against a timetable and then for it -- ever-evolving. She doesn't need to be a woman to look weak and indecisive on defense. She's also made it clear that the primary issue in 2008 ought to be health care, and Osama bin Laden is just a pale excuse to prevent us from focusing on the real issues, terrorism not being one of those.
Now back to the first complaint. Do the media unfairly focus on Hillary's hair and house decor? Many of these stories are recycling memories of her White House days, when a First Lady is often scrutinized more for appearance and talents like interior design than your average FEMALE senator is. (Question: how many stories have you seen on Dianne Feinstein's hair?) If Hillary didn't want to be scrutinized for her hair, then why on Earth did she change it twelve times a year? At what point do the media memories come from sexism, and which come from Hillary's actual behavior, and her own publicity machine?