Monday, July 26, 2004



BOSTON--I sure hope that John Kerry understands that he owes Hillary Clinton big for the extraordinary grace with which she performed a task that rated as a diss*: the introduction of her husband, the keynote speaker.

It's said there were worries that, given the full-fledged, prime-time speech she rightfully deserved, she would have, once again, proved too polarizing a figure. Yeah, right. Worries were that she might prove presidential.

I don't mean to suggest that the junior senator from New York is not a controversial personality; indeed, women of her own generation are not always comfortable with all they see in her iconic qualities. She's made the compromises that so many brilliant women have had to make, only to come through with real power.

But younger women are nuts about Hillary, perhaps because she offers a glimmer of hope for their own actualization. The Lifetime poll I mentioned in yesterday's post found that while four in 10 young men said that a teacher or other adult in their lives had suggested that they run for office some day, only one in 10 young women said the same. Even sadder, a great majority of women in the 18-to-34 cohort said they did not expect to see a woman president in their lifetime.

When the pope last visted America, he landed at Newark airport, near where I was living at the time. Hillary and Bill walked toward the papal plane, up a tarmac lined along one side with Catholic schoolchildren, set off by a chain-link fence. As Hillary approached, the little girls went wild, calling her name--little girls in kilts climbing a fence in order to get a better look. The nuns could not contain them.

Today, those little girls are of voting age, and the Democratic party is ignoring them--or worse yet, allowing its allies to demean them by vying for their vote with panties imprinted with political slogans--and seeing no greater role in this convention for a senator from the most powerful state in the union than to introduce her spouse.

She played the good soldier to Kerry's war hero. She praised him, made his case, and made Bill's case, as well. I couldn't help but notice, though, that she made a subtle point about being made to play wife: she never refered to Bill as her husband; he was the 42nd president of the United States and she, the senator from the Empire State.

You go, girl.

*Kit Seelye called it right in this "Morning Notebook" that reads deliciously like a blog.

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