Froma Harrop here makes a legitimate a point (made better, by the way, some months ago by Peggy Noonan) about the surging female support for Hillary Clinton. Piling on by the media--particularly when it appears to be coming from a latent anti-female sentiment--will push women (even many not inclined otherwise to support Clinton) to rush to her defense. Harrop claims that the attacks on Clinton after her crying spell--especially the ones that made unfavorable mention of Clinton’s physical attributes--caused her to question whether Obama’s poll numbers in the Granite State were really accurate. She doubted it because the level of mockery in these critiques of Clinton drove her, and many of her friends, to the point of angry distraction. Thus, she argues, "Seeing that it had become socially acceptable to mock mature women, they were determined to prove that it was not politically acceptable. Many of their daughters joined them."
That all sounds very good. And there might be just enough truth in it to explain at least part of what happened on Tuesday. There’s certainly a sense that it is true coming from people like Rush, who spoke roughly with a caller yesterday when he offered (an admittedly lame) insulting one-liner aimed at Hillary. But you do see a kind of backing away from the default (and sensible) position, that Hillary’s tears were ridiculous. (Never mind, calculated.)
But there is a problem with this analysis, particularly if you are Hillary Clinton and you believe that its effects can last. Why? Because whatever else may be said about it, support gotten in this way remains purely emotional. It comes, moreover, from the emotion of anger. Anger happens to be the emotion with which most women are the least comfortable. If female anger were more reliable and longer lasting, there’d be a lot more dead terrorists and a lot less support for the so-called "peace" movement. (It would probably also be true that Hillary Clinton would no longer be a Clinton . . . but that’s a rather cheap shot.) To keep it going she’ll have to continue to display herself wide and far as the Victim of mean men. And then she’s going to have to deal with the flip-side of that move . . . a decline in the support of many man, sensible women, and women who are just tired of being angry. Some may persist in their attempt to portray Hillary Clinton’s crying display as a brilliant political maneuver. I may be proven wrong by events, but at this point, I’m fairly satisfied that it (along with her last minute grasping at Carville and Begala) was just desperate.