Playing the victim
I expect that Hillary’s persistent usage of the tired old liberal tactic of attempting to silence legitimate criticism because of membership in some preferred group (in this case, women) could end up hurting her among voters willing to engage in some good old-fashioned critical thinking. even while it is largely ignored by a fawning national media. But even I was shocked to see this from radical abortion activist Kate Michelman: "At one minute, the strong woman ready to lead, the next, she's the woman under attack, disingenuously playing the victim card. It is not presidential."
Obviously the idea of woman as perpetual victim runs counter to the premise of feminism, much as “affirmative action” runs counter to the premise of civil rights; the idea in each case is that the individual is inherently too weak to survive and thrive if the game is not rigged in their favor. What’s rare is for sympathizers to the causes to suspend the prevailing cognitive dissonance and admit it. It's pretty clearly not the kind of behavior that one would want to see in any position of authority, much less the leader of the free world, but James Taranto reminds us that it's not exactly unusual and that it may pull Hillary back toward her competitors:
Male Democrats routinely do what Mrs. Clinton stands accused of doing now: pout and play the victim. There is no question that such behavior is unmanly. But it would be an outrageous sexist calumny to suggest that it is womanly. It is childish: Little boys and girls pout and play the victim. Grown men and women do not.
What about the politics of all this? Maybe it is true that women respond better than men to such childishness. Certainly they have tended to vote more Democratic than have men in recent presidential elections. Will a woman's playing the victim qua woman resonate even more with female voters than, say, Dukakis's or Kerry's crying over wounded patriotism? Perhaps. On the other hand, men vote too, and it also seems possible that they will find Mrs. Clinton's bellyaching especially off-putting.
There is another danger for Mrs. Clinton in all this. Her great advantage in the Democratic field is that she is the only one of the top candidates who comes across as a grown-up. Barack Obama seems like a bright young man who may do great things when he grows up. John Edwards is Peter Pan, Esq.
Being a woman sets Mrs. Clinton apart from the boys. Whining like a girl reduces her to their level.
Complicating the whole dynamic is that they are all members of victim groups, what with Obama being black and Edwards being an effeminate heterosexual. It gets hard to tell for whom to feel sorry, except for serious Democrat voters.