by John Hawkins | March 3, 2008 8:23 am
Gloria Steinem, a Hillary Clinton supporter, was speaking on her behalf in Texas in a Women for Hillary event. Unfortunately for Hillary, any help that she might have had by having the feminist icon speak for her was lost when Steinem decided to do a riff on McCain’s experience as a POW.
Referring to his time in captivity, Steinem said with bewilderment, “I mean, hello? This is supposed to be a qualification to be president? I don’t think so.”
The Clinton campaign immediately disavowed Steinem’s words and said they have the utmost respect for John McCain’s military status. Just what they wanted to have to spend the two days before the primary vote in Texas of all places talking about.
Steinem’s crack raises the counter question: how does being married to a former president serve as a qualification for being president? Steinem goes on to say that the media wouldn’t be as sympathetic to a woman who was captured and tortured.
Steinem raised McCain’s Vietnam imprisonment as she sought to highlight an alleged gender-based media bias against Clinton.
“Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years. [The media would ask], ‘What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?'” Steinem said, to laughter from the audience.
Well, turn it around. If a man were running on the basis of his experience as being married to a two-term former president, would the media be as likely to assume that being First Husband would be a qualification for being president?
And if that First Husband’s wife had publicly humiliated him by cheating with an intern, would he get the same sympathy vote that would have propelled him into the Senate in the first place?
But Steinem has an answer for that, too.
And she claimed that if Clinton’s experience as First Lady were taken seriously in relation to her White House bid, people might “finally admit that, say, being a secretary is the best way to learn your boss’s job and take it over.”
So, what is she saying there? That being a wife is like being a secretary? And would anyone really buy her characterization of a secretary’s qualifications to take over the job from her boss? Maybe that works well in movie plots, but I somehow doubt that anyone thinks that way in real life.
This content was used with the permission of Betsy’s Page.
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