THE BLOG

Hillary and the Unfeminine Mystique

05/21/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Joan Z. Shore Paris columnist, author of 'Saging' and 'Red Burgundy'

I would have loved to vote for America's first woman president. But it wasn't meant to be.

Hillary Clinton, the woman who could have made history, simply let me down.

She let me down five years ago when she voted for the war in Iraq. And she let me down all these years since, by never repudiating her vote or apologizing for her mistake.

She let me down -- and lost my respect -- by continually using the pronoun "I". "I'll be ready the first day in office." "I'll be the one to answer the phone at 3 a.m." Like some egomaniac, she seemed to forget that there are 300 million other people in this country.

Barack Obama didn't forget this. His most-used pronoun is "we". While Clinton billed herself as a one-woman act, Obama focused on the ensemble, on plurality, unity and cooperation, That's not showmanship -- that's statesmanship.

And Clinton's favorite verb? "Fight." Thanks, babe -- that's what they're doing over in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, and in Lebanon, and in too many places around the globe. I don't want a fighter in the White House; I want a peacemaker.

As an active feminist all my life, I see exactly where Clinton went wrong. She was using the old paradigm: To beat them (the men) you've got to be like them. Tough, aggressive, pragmatic. But what a difference it would have made if her campaign had employed some "feminine" qualities: compassion, conciliation, generosity.

She must have taken Margaret Thatcher as her role model. She should have copied Golda Meir instead, who was known to greet foreign dignitaries in her housedress, and brew them a cup of tea in her kitchen.

I do, of course, sympathize with Hillary's marital predicament. As many wives discover, a husband can be both a help and a hindrance, an embellishment or an embarrassment. I think she would have been a lot wiser to leave hubby home, tending the lawn in Chappaqua.

Most likely, Hillary herself will not be willing to return home next year and take up domestic chores. Nor should she. She will make a fine elder stateswoman. Chastened by this campaign, she may yet become a mellow voice of reason, of tolerance, of understanding, of moral rectitude and responsibility.

She is finished running with the wolves. Now it's time to lick her wounds and be a woman again.