Sunday, March 02, 2008

Women for Obama: educated, callous and fickle

Reading today's Washington Post, one would be forgiven for concluding that the editors of its Sunday opinion section, "Outlook," decided that they didn't care if another woman ever bought the paper. In essays run side by side, two women -- one a self-described feminist, the other in the employ of a right-wing, anti-feminist outfit -- both reached similar conclusions: a lot of women are dumb.

Coming from the anti-feminist Charlotte Allen of the Independent Women's Forum, the argument was predictable. Women swoon, have more automobile accidents, can't do math and vote for Barack Obama.

But Linda Hirshman should know better. Or perhaps better said, she wants you to know that she does know better -- than you or me, dear reader, or any woman who might dare to vote for Barack Obama rather than Hillary Clinton.

Educated white women, claims Hirshman, are sinking Hillary's campaign by voting in increasing numbers for Barack -- and that's because they don't care about working-class women. For Hirshman, who graduated from Cornell, it's all about class, and class is defined by whether or not you have a college degree. Whether you're a social worker or an MBA, you're upper-class in her book. (And you would think, by reading Hirshman, that Clinton's social safety-net programs are markedly more enlightened than Obama's. In that, you would be wrong. There are differences, but they're not gulfs.)

For Hirshman, her definition of class is the only marker that counts among white, female voters. She equates the movement of white, college-educated female voters to Obama's side as a drift defined by social class. She doesn't talk about age groups, even though younger women are more likely, one would think, to be college-educated than older women, who form a natural constituency for Clinton.

Hirshman is particularly peeved by a group of feminists who published a petition in support of Obama on the eve of the Super Tuesday primary contests, and seems to blame them for a more general drift of educated women toward Obama. (I'm sure these women could only wish for such power.) Singled out for special ire is The Nation's Katha Pollitt, with whom your blogstress often concurs.

Aside from Pollitt and Clinton, only two other women are mentioned by name: Maria Shriver and Michelle Obama. The first is reduced to a description of her hair, and the other to a description of her shoes (as Jimmy Choos).

Wait -- there's more:

[Clinton campaign pollster] Mark Penn has been criticized for everything from short-sightedness about the primary schedule to overspending on sandwich platters. But those failures pale beside the biggest one of all: not recognizing the fickleness of the female voter.

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