If you want to read about how all those mean ol’ men beat up on poor defenseless Hillary, feel free to read what Margaret Carlson and the NYT’s Gail Collins had to say about that last debate. If you want to hear whining about how unfair they are being when Russert dares to ask her tough questions and when Edwards, Obama, and Dodd call her on her inability to give a straight answer to those questions — it won’t be difficult for you to find articles about that either. This strategy may have worked with Rick Lazio. It’s not going to work this time. If Hillary can’t answer tough questions, if she can’t make tough decisions without waffling a few times, and if she can’t take a principled stand on any important issue facing our country today, maybe she would be better off staying in the kitchen and baking cookies (or doing whatever feminists do when they are not running for office). Her problem is not that she is female. It’s certainly not that she can’t handle whatever abuse she gets, whether it’s because she’s a woman, or because she is the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential race. She can handle it because she has the Clinton machine behind her spinning valid criticisms into personal attacks.
Hillary chose this battle. Maybe she expected it to be an easier ride than it has been for her so far, but surely she had to know that the harder questions were coming at some point. She knew the risks involved, and she decided to take that chance anyway. Politics is an ugly business. She should know this better than just about anyone. If she can’t stand up to your Democratic opponents (who weren’t all that close to mortally wounding her) and Tim Russert, that raises some serious questions in my mind. She survived the debate without much damage inflicted from Obama and Edwards, but her uneven performance in the latter half is more her fault than theirs. She does herself no good by blaming others for her own mistakes. Unfortunately, this will not stop her from getting the nomination, but she can be stopped. We have a good chance to take advantage of her mistakes in the general election. We just need someone who knows how to do it.