From The Wall Street Journal:
Most political women pander to gender, but Fiorina wants to make it on the merits.
By Kimberley A. Strassel | Sept. 17, 2015 7:15 p.m. ET
Asked during Wednesday’s GOP debate which woman he’d put on the $10 bill, Jeb Bush named Margaret Thatcher. As Mr. Bush then joked that it would probably be illegal to put a British prime minister on American currency, eyes flicked to the woman standing to his left. Quite so.
Carly Fiorina isn’t Margaret Thatcher, just as her Republican rivals aren’t Ronald Reagan. Yet Ms. Fiorina has a bit of Thatcher about her—and in one way in particular. She isn’t a woman running for president. She’s a presidential contender who happens to be a woman.
Carly Fiorina in Phoenix, Sept. 11. Photo: Cheryl Evans/Associated Press
That’s new for the GOP. Women have made remarkable inroads everywhere, but there still may be no tougher realm than Republican politics. This isn’t, as the press suggests, because conservative voters are old fogies who’d chain their wives to sinks full of dirty dishes. It’s because conservative voters demand more from their candidates.
Women Democrats pander on gender issues—abortion, birth control, the myth of unequal pay. They promise female voters special handouts. They pitch their womanhood as a qualification for office. And their base loves it.
Women Republicans don’t get to engage in such vote-buying. They are expected to be principled, knowledgeable, serious. They are expected to propose policies — sometimes unpopular ones — designed to help all Americans. And, because the general public (both right and left) is still new to the idea of a woman president, they are expected to do all this twice as well as men.
This was Elizabeth Dole’s problem in her fleeting 2000 presidential bid. Ms. Dole ran on her gender, arguing America ought to elect its first female president — which was no argument at all. It was a problem in 2012 for Michele Bachmann, who loved to claim special insight as “a mother of five” and a “homemaker.” It was a problem for Sarah Palin, whose occasional flubs allowed late-night comics to undermine her seriousness as a vice-presidential candidate.
The Iron Lady didn’t do identity politics, and Ms. Fiorina doesn’t either. At the debate she offered unadulterated substance. She was informed, focused, specific. Want to know what Carly thinks of Putin? Here. Need Carly to explain how hard it is to alter the 14th amendment? Right at ya. Curious if Carly is familiar with Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, and where he’s traveled lately? Boom, boom, boom.
There’s a lot more at the link.
A bit of a quibble with the author’s last (reproduced) paragraph: Mrs Fiorina didn’t get it right about how difficult it is to alter the 14th Amendment; she said that it required 2/3 of the states to ratify a change, where the requirement is actually 3/4 of the states. The 2/3 requirement is the supermajority required in each House of Congress to pass an amendment and submit it to the states for ratification.
But the article is right on target: I can’t say that it’s true for every supporter of Mrs Fiorina’s campaign, but at least for me it is important that she is not running as a female candidate but as simply a candidate, not claiming that she should be the first female President, but simply that she is the best person running to be our next President.
We already have a candidate running to be the first female President in Hillary Clinton, a woman of an extensive résumé but few actual accomplishments, a candidate running, because it’s her turn to be President, damn it! but who is considered presidentibili not because of anything she has actually done but simply because she married the right man; Hillary Clinton might have been elected to the Senate and appointed Secretary of State, but Hillary Rodham would never have been.
I am not naïve enough to believe that none of Mrs Fiorina’s support is due to her being a woman, any more than I think that her being female might not cost her some votes as well; that’s simply the way the world is. Even the oh-so-liberal New York Times sexistly tweeted last night:
My response was obvious:
You see, at The First Street Journal, we don’t care about Mrs Fiorina’s chromosomes or her genitals; we care about whether she is a good candidate, whether she would make a good President.
Will Mrs Fiorina make a good President? The answer is: we can’t know until she actually becomes President. There is no real training program for presidents, and the closest position we have in the United States is the gubernatorial seat, and while we have had former governors who have been good Presidents, we’ve had too many who have made lousy Presidents. Every presidential candidate is, in the end, a guess and a reach.
But, of all of the candidates running, Mrs Fiorina seems top-notch to me: she is intelligent, she’s obviously a quick learner, she is tough and intuitive and she gets to the core of problems quickly. She didn’t start near the top, but came up from the bottom, and has a personal understanding not only about how things work in the executive suite, but in all of the layers from the entry-level on up. We are not interested in her becoming the first female President; we are very interested in her becoming President.