Among the innumerable flip-flops, course corrections and reinventions that have come to define
In 2008, Clinton downplayed her gender.
She's right about the latter, I'm not sure about the former. Perhaps one reason Clinton didn't bang the feminist gong more forcefully was that she feared it might remind voters she was a household name because of her husband's accomplishments, not her own. Clinton successfully sponsored only three pieces of legislation while in the
Another possible factor: Clinton was running against
This is a hotly controversial point on college campuses, but the heat cools rapidly the farther away you get from the women's studies departments. Yes, of course, America has a sexist history. But so does every other society in the world. America hasn't always been ahead of the pack on women's rights, but it has rarely been far behind.
You could say that racism in America was horizontal, while sexism was vertical. Women are born into every class and demographic. Affluent white women may not have been allowed to vote until 1920, but they were hardly treated the same way as black women or, for that matter, Native American women.
Moreover, women's political, religious and ideological orientations are difficult to stereotype. You'd be hard-pressed to find an African-American who dissented from the battle for civil rights. It has always been easy to find women -- lots of women -- who dissent from feminist orthodoxy. For instance, gender is a very poor predictor of attitudes on abortion.
To make the case that women are coequals in the
I am not one to feed the stunning self-regard of millennials, but it is to their credit that they don't much care about Clinton's gender.
The coverage of the Democratic convention last week was instructive. By far, the delegates -- and pundits -- most excited by the relentless mantra about the First Woman President were aging white liberal baby boomers.
And that's fine, I suppose. But it's worth considering that Clinton's decision to emphasize the historic nature of her candidacy is probably as calculated as her decision to de-emphasize it in 2008. The person standing between her and the Oval Office this time isn't the first black president, but a thrice-married, crude billionaire who polls slightly better than the Zika virus with women. Baiting the ever-baitable
No doubt Clinton, a lifelong feminist, believes her rhetoric about shattering the final glass ceiling, but one thing is clear from her decades in the political arena: If she thought it wasn't to her advantage to say it, she probably wouldn't.