THE PLANK OCTOBER 19, 2007
"Who, of all the powerful women in American politics right now, has inspired the unease, dismay and frank dislike that she has? Condi Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein? These are serious women who are making crucial decisions about our national life every day. They inspire agreement and disagreement; they fight and are fought with. But they do not inspire repugnance. Nobody hates Barbara Mikulski, Elizabeth Dole or Kay Bailey Hutchison; everyone respects Ms. Rice and Ms. Feinstein.Hillary's problem is not that she's a woman; it's that unlike these women--all of whom have come under intense scrutiny, each of whom has real partisan foes--she has a history that lends itself to the kind of doubts that end in fearfulness. It is an unease and dismay based not on gender stereotypes but on personal history."
There are bigger problems here than the slightly unseemly tone. For starters, a cursory Internet search reveals that Hillary Clinton is in fact more popular than Nancy Pelosi. Moreover, while it is of course true that Senator Clinton has inspired a lot of dislike, I'm not quite sure what Noonan is thinking when comparing the senator to Dianne Feinstein (remind me when the Californian was ever a visible first lady...) It's nice, too, that Noonan thinks "everyone" is overflowing with respect for Feinstein and Condi; clearly she--Noonan--was not following California politics until ten years ago).
And one more word about Hillary's popularity (which is definitely a concern if you want to see Democrats take back the White House): Bill Clinton was hated, too. Sure he's popular now (as ex-presidents tend to be), and yes he was more popular than his wife throughtout much of the nineties. But can this not be attributed to the economy, the ability to give a damn good speech, and sexism? Noonan's column, and Sullivan's post, both hint that there is something else out there causing the great and good American people to gag at the thought of a Hillary presidency. If so, I'm missing it.