June 11 2014

Hillary: The Real Wedge Issue

Charlotte Hays

If Hillary Clinton—promoting her new book, Hard Choices this week—runs for president, one of her key selling points will be that she would be the first female president.

But is Hillary really the best ally for women? In a provocative piece at The Federalist headlined “Hillary Clinton, Driver of Wedges,” Leslie Loftis argues that Clinton has done a bad job representing women.

We know Clinton is pitched to a certain kind of professional women. But how about women who make other choices?

Loftis writes that one reason the debate about the role of women is so raw and polarizing is because of divisive leaders such as Mrs. Clinton. She writes:

The oldest but general (and ongoing, see below) sign of Hillary Clinton’s divisiveness came with her “What should I have done, stayed home and baked cookies?” snark back during her husband’s presidency. Such comments are fodder for the Mommy Wars women wish would go away. They won’t in part because they give women like Hillary Clinton power….

Women are tired of divisive. Look at calls to end the Mommy Wars, in which women insist that we should have choices and all will be right if we support other women’s choices. It is a tactic created in reaction to disparaging work or home judgments like “staying home and baking cookies.”

Clinton’s “baking cookies” comment might be 20 years old, but it is consistent with more recent events, such as when she seemed to imply that her former underling who leaned back into a Princeton University professorship, Ann Marie Slaughter, was an unorganized whiner without a supportive network.

Slaughter, as you may recall, wrote a famous article in the Atlantic saying that women can’t have it all. Slaughter at the time made some professional adjustments to accommodate motherhood. Clinton subsequently talked about women who whine. Slaughter has maintained that Mrs. Clinton was not referring to her.  

Loftis argues that, while positioning herself as the champion of women, Clinton has not been as supportive as she might have of the choices that women who aren’t highly motivated professional with excellent support systems such as herself make.

As for the book tour, Hard Choices week may be proving harder than Hillary Clinton anticipated. ABC’s Diane Sawyer did an unexpectedly tough interview with Mrs. Clinton (it could have repercussions for her on the matter of Benghazi).   

 

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