I read two diametrically opposing views about the likelihood that Hillary will run successfully in 2008. Dick Morris, who has spent his life in politics on both sides of the spin isle, thinks she can win, just because she’s a woman:
She definitely can win…and probably will. She is uniquely able to expand the electorate to bring in millions of women, mostly single, who will vote overwhelmingly for a female Democrat. The feminization of poverty, long decried by the left, will finally lead unmarried women to show up at the polling place and vote their short-term economic interest and vindicate their gender bias. In 2000, only 19 million single women voted. By 2004, their turnout rose to 27 million. With Hillary in the race, the single-female vote will probably go up to its proper ratio of the adult population — 33 million votes.
Can white men outvote single women? Despite the intensity with which white men tend to oppose Hillary, they can’t vote twice.
The enthusiasm that will grip many Americans — women in particular — at the cultural implications of a woman president will probably sweep through the primaries and cause many to overlook Hillary’s flaws and dismiss her defects. The generic of a woman candidate will prove so attractive that millions of voters will overcome their objections to the specific person who is running.
Jonah Goldberg is more optimistic:
And, of course, there’s the Hillary Clinton candidacy, soon to come to you as the visually oxymoronic bumper sticker “Hillary!” The two most important things a Hillary candidacy had going for it, from a liberal perspective, now seem increasingly stale. First, she’s a woman and – golly – wouldn’t that just be so exciting! Second, a vote for Hillary would be a vindication of the Clintons generally. Mean-spirited conservatives picked on those poor Clintons, so making her president would be a comeuppance for the bad guys and an attempt to restore the mythic grandeur of Clintonism. The problem for Hillary is that the shelf life on this stuff is running out. People may like the idea of returning to what Charles Krauthammer has called the “holiday from history” that was the 1990s. But nobody wants to return to the politics of the 1990s — or the 2000s, for that matter. Clinton-worship and Clinton-hatred alike feel dated, like fights over Richard Nixon.
As for the first-female-president thing, that’s still got oomph, but much less than it did in the 1990s, when such vanity voting was cost-free. After 9/11 and Iraq, voting for a candidate because she’s a woman seems just plain frivolous. Moreover, Hillary Clinton is in the ironic position of no longer seeming like an affirmative-action candidate. She’s more of a person, less of a category. And the person’s baggage crowds out the category’s appeal.
I hope that Goldberg’s right; I fear that Morris is.