Michael Sherer at Salon argues that there is a reversal of gender roles between Hillary and Obama this political season. Hillary is downplaying her gender--and rightly so, as I noted last week. Obama is still after the soft underbelly of the female vote--or the Oprah vote--that Hillary will probably lose in the primary, even if she tries to appear softened up. James Taranto discusses what all of it may mean.
For my part, I do think it is somewhat telling that Democrats seem to be so obsessed with gender and gender distinctions. Of course, if conservatives ever attempt to point out such obvious differences and draw conclusions from them they are considered to be somewhat Neanderthal or, at least, a 1950s retrograde. We are mocked for pointing out such things but Democrats can freely exploit these differences with impunity. Of course, implicit in their actions are a couple of paternalistic and patronizing assumptions. First, they assume that people must think, vote, and move in the most ordinary and stereotypical grooves. Thus they pander to groups rather than appeal to the reason of a vast electorate. Second, they assume that we’re all too stupid to notice what they are doing--they think we’re going to buy the suggestion that Barack Obama really digs the Indigo Girls.
Don’t get me wrong . . . Republicans are perfectly capable of indulging in this sort of tripe. They’ve been guilty of it in the past--particularly when they are driven by ordinary operatives and handlers who think politics is all about balancing the competing interests and groups that pop up on an electoral map. And it is some of that. But when that’s all it is, then there’s no sense of the common good or a common interest. This is what politics really ought to be about at its best. This is what keeps government limited and citizens free.