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Joanne Bamberger Headshot

Is Everyone Playing Fair?

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For a second-grader, PunditGirl is pretty tuned in to when others are getting picked on unfairly.

I guess that's the upside to all the time spent on the playground at school "dealing" with the boys. As you might guess, PunditGirl can hold her own with those seven-year-old alpha males!

So I wasn't surprised when she caught me listening to a re-cap of the recent Democratic debates and wondered why the "boys" were being so hard on Hillary.

The question of whether the Democratic guys were too tough on Hillary at the debate last week in Philadelphia is still getting a lot of media attention, which sort of surprises me. She is the purported front-runner, after all. Isn't it S.O.P. for those who want to take over the lead to play a little hardball?

In the New York Times this week, a front page article quotes former Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro as saying that the "attacks" on Hillary at the debate were sexist.

Ferraro contends that if the other candidates had railed on Barack Obama in the same way she perceives they did with Hillary Clinton, it would be viewed as racist.

I don't disagree with Ferraro's observation that there's still plenty of sexism and racism in our country -- I practiced law in a male dominant law firm, as well as a federal agency, for almost 15 years, so I am well-acquainted with that experience. But that doesn't mean that every time some lawyer tried to pull a fast one they thought would benefit their client, I thought it was because I was the "girl" lawyer.

There were plenty of times in my careers in broadcasting and the law that I felt I was the recipient of sexist remarks, but I didn't think they all were. When another reporter scooped me on a story, I didn't complain that I didn't get the story because I was a woman. When opposing counsel conducted a harsh cross-examination on a client, I didn't assume he would have gone easier on the witness if they had been defended by a male attorney. Some things just aren't that personal, especially when the stakes are high.

If other candidates, Democratic or Republican, try to pull the 'there, there, little lady' card, I think the voters will get it. But commentators and other politicos who are criticizing the candidates for seriously taking on an opponent on her positions or lack of clarity are missing the point.

This isn't about sexism, it's about changing the direction of the country.

It's a pretty big mission, so I don't think any of the candidates are spending a lot of time worrying about whether they can make Hillary cry.

And, as with PunditGirl, I have a feeling Hillary can take care of herself.

Joanne blogs about all things political at her blog, PunditMom