Saturday, December 1, 2007

Obama's Oblique Opening

In what could signal a more open frontal assault, Senator Barack Obama deviated from his campaign thrust and opened the gender issue versus Senator Hillary Clinton. Or it could be a well timed incursion into the feminist factor that has long remained a staple of Democrat women activists who account for 54% of caucus votes.

The pitch by the Obama campaign is that the best candidate for women may be a man.

Echoing the statements of Kate Michelman, senior adviser to Senator John Edwards campaign and abortion rights mover, Barack Obama suggested that a candidate's sex is not and should not be the deciding factor. He supports his point with his background as having 2 daughters, a strong feminine presence in his wife which he is comfortable with, and being raised by a single (his mother) parent; and that his program addresses more women's issues because of his gender sensitivity.

These may sound like valid arguments, but doesn't it relegate Hillary Clinton to being "merely a woman?" Would not the women Democrats who are hard core feminists be offended by these words? This is obviously a counter attack against Hillary's successes in wooing the black voters. What would happen if Hillary declares to black voters that being of the same color or race is not and should not be the deciding factor, how would these voters react? How would Obama respond?

It is too early to say if this will trigger a negative backlash against Obama but some opposition may be in the offing, ostensibly from Clinton supporters. They could trigger the intensified dirt and mud season for the Democrat primaries.

Some pundits believe that Obama is a more unifying figure because he transcends the baby boomer feminist orientation that is prone to extremes; and that his persona evokes a more rational nurturing of gender issues. However, to practically limit Hillary to being just a woman could antagonize the very sector he seeks support from. Both candidates would make the largely conservative American population uncomfortable since opposition to either may tag them as racist or chauvinist. It would therefore be unwise to raise the gender or the race/color issues from within the same party.

If it won't be Black versus White nor Man versus Woman, what then will be the basis of their distinctive traits for the primaries? Will it be Youth versus Experience, Moral Regeneration versus Moral Degeneration? Ecological and Environmental initiatives versus Greed and Plunder? Or simply Male Middle Age crisis versus Menopause?

Whatever it is, both should seek new grounds, otherwise the struggling GOP candidates may push ahead because the voters will be fed up with the divisive nature of the Democrat campaigns. And Rudy Giuliani will take over from where Bill Clinton was with the interns at the White House.


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