I think Maureen Dowd says it well.
Watch Out, Meryl Streep! She’s a Master Thespian.
How much Hillary Clinton can help Barack Obama will depend on how good an actress she is.
And I bet she is a very good actress indeed.
Not only because, as first lady, she played the diverse roles of someone interested in China and someone interested in china. Not only because, as a presidential candidate, she morphed from Queen Elizabeth I to Norma Rae, as Newsweek put it.
But because, through humiliation and pain, she has shown herself to be a skilled survivor. She said she embraces the old saying, “Fake it till you make it.”
After the roiling rollout of the Clinton administration, a sad and unnerved Hillary sought answers from self-help gurus like Jean Houston.
“Houston felt at one point that being Hillary was like being Mozart with his hands cut off, unable to play,” Bob Woodward wrote. “She felt that the first lady was going through a female crucifixion.”
At critical junctures of her life, Hillary makes the same mistake. She comes on strong, showing an arrogant, abrasive side, gets brushed back, and then repackages herself in a more appealing way.
It happened when she began as Arkansas’ first lady; when she campaigned with Bill in ’92; when she started as a “two for the price of one” first lady; when she did health care; and when she started her presidential campaign wearing an off-putting ermine robe of entitlement and presumption. And it happened when she lost the nomination, refused to admit it and, instead of congratulating Obama, wielded her female fan base as a bludgeon over him so she could once more share a presidency.
Now, as she transforms herself into a team player, she must again fake it till she makes it. She still doesn’t believe Obama can win, but she knows she can move ahead only as a beguiler, not a begrudger.
Meanwhile, she wants another power-sharing arrangement. She will help Obama be king, if he lets her be queen of the women.
As The Times’s Jodi Kantor wrote Saturday, Hillary’s “grieving” voters “say that she will remain their leader, that she has created a lasting female constituency, a women’s electoral movement unlike any other.”
So, you may wonder: Will Hillary’s historic bid turn out to be good or bad for women?
The Wall Street Journal reported back in March that some women were worried that “the resistance to Senator Clinton may embolden some men to resist women’s efforts to share power with them in business, politics and elsewhere.”
It’s a reasonable fear. Every fizzy triumph of feminism I have covered — Geraldine Ferraro’s selection, the Anita Hill hearings, Hillary’s co-presidency — ended up triggering awful backlashes. In the end, feminism sputtered out as a force.
Hillary has brought back that old feminist religion, at least for now.
She should not have pitted the women against the men. She did it to her detriment within her own campaign, where Patti Solis Doyle, the tyro campaign manager and self-styled “queen bee” of Hillaryland, battled with Bill’s “White Boys,” as they were known, and often left Bill feeling dissed.
And Hillary did it to Obama’s detriment with her female fan base, stirring up such fury that some women are still vowing to jump to John McCain, even if it means voting against their self-interest.
She should not have repeated the mistake she made after her health-care plan failed. Instead of simply admitting her own mistakes in judgment, she played the victim and blamed sexism.
Of course, powerful women evoke sexism, and the attacks are more personal and slights can be grating. But it’s counterproductive to dwell on it, magnify it and exploit it during a campaign — especially when you’re getting all that love from Joe Sixpack.
I don’t believe Hillary’s campaign will cause a backlash. As long as her Denver Liberation Army doesn’t cause Obama to lose, it may well be good for women.
When I interviewed scores of women after Ronald Reagan won the women’s vote in ’84, I was stunned at what I heard. Many working-class women said they didn’t vote for Ferraro because they didn’t feel capable of running the country, so how could she?
Maybe women have seen enough male boo-boos in the last eight years to give them more confidence. Or maybe Hillary’s grit and gall allowed them to easily envision her cuffing generals and dictators.
While studies continue to say that being taller and having a deeper voice can make you seem like a more credible leader, Hillary thrillingly proved herself the best debater and the toughest candidate while being shorter and having the higher voice.
She didn’t lose because she was a woman. She didn’t lose because America isn’t ready for a woman as president. She lost because of her own — and her husband’s and Mark Penn’s — fatal missteps.