Monday, March 24, 2008

Decision 2008

Hillary Clinton: From Tears To Fierce
By Jeni Carbonara

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, proclaimed “Winning! Winning! Winning!” as the measure of her success in the primary elections held in Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont, provided her audience with a shocking transition from the teary-eyed woman begging for popularity, to a candidate who is strong and determined.

In the absence of her water-works, Hillary proved she does not have to squeeze out a few tears to win the support of her voters. In fact, her emphatic declaration of power proved to be a success, winning her Ohio, Rhode Island, and the much-coveted Texas in the primaries held on March 4.

The transition from weepy woman to commanding candidate appears to be part of an ongoing process to transcend the gender barrier in her campaign. “She cut it out with the female card and started looking up her sleeve for something else,” says Justine Harold, 29, of Hillary’s new tactic.

It seems to be a bit pre-emptive to assume that Clinton could ever really avoid the stigma that accompanies her gender just because she stopped the waterworks, however. As long as she is in a dress, (shoulder-pads or not), she will still be a female. Should it even matter that she is a woman?

From a political standpoint, no. Does it matter to the voters? Yes. It cannot be denied that the people who do or do not vote for Clinton consider, at least in part, the fact that she is a woman—it would be impossible not to, just as it would be impossible for a voter to divorce oneself from the fact that Obama is an African-American or that McCain is bordering on ancient.

People vote for the candidate to represent himself or herself—not just a political stance, but as a figure who will represent the entire nation. Take George Bush, for example. There have to be people out there who agree with his politics, but his inability to articulate them make people groan at the mention of his name. He’s dumb! they’ll cry, because despite what he is saying to the country, having a man who can barely get through a question-and-answer session makes him an embarrassing representative of all Americans.

Do we want to be seen as people who cannot enunciate the simplest of phrases? No. So, while it’s nice to see that Hillary can win over some states without breaking out the tissues, it is only half of the battle to winning over the approval of the voters.

Could this explain her campy performance on Saturday Night Live? Her self-depreciating fashion blurbs in US Weekly? Her appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show? In addition to wiping her tears, Clinton’s focus has been on becoming the “funny” candidate—the likeable one! Strong and likable? Mrs. Clinton, you’re packing one hell of a punch!

Her tactics seem to be working, however. I must admit a quick browse on Yahoo! Answers for the question of her likeability do not bode well. Of course, let us not forget, the Internet is not the voting booth, and that is where Hillary Clinton is gaining ground at last.

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