Hillary Clinton and the Gender Card

After laying out plans to 'run as a woman,' Hillary is outraged at a Republican for bringing it up

Hillary Rodham Clinton
July 21, 2015

Hillary Clinton and her campaign team have been excruciatingly opaque in terms of explaining where the journeyman candidate stands on key policy issues. However, they have been completely forthcoming when it comes to the "gender card." She intends to play it early and often.

"[Hillary has] decided to fully embrace her womanhood as an asset in her quest for the White House and to trust that the voters will do the same," former Bill Clinton strategist Donna Brazile wrote in March. "Hillary is now wisely embracing her gender as a way of capturing the same 'hope and change' historical quality of Obama's presidency."

Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein wrote one week earlier: "As aides plot her future presidential bid, the women who would help Clinton break barriers as the first to win a major party's nomination are embracing her gender like never before."

"Hillary Clinton plays 'gender card' to win," read an April headline in the Guardian. The U.S. News & World Report noted that "gender has emerged as one of her biggest selling points and likely advantages."

One of the most quoted lines of Clinton's (second) official announcement speech was a line about how she, though very old, "will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States." Vox's Jonathan Allen reported last month:

Clinton advisers believe one of the biggest mistakes she made in 2008 was ignoring the appeal of the historic nature of her candidacy for the presidency. Barack Obama gave voters a chance to break new ground. Now Clinton is making an explicit appeal to women, as well as to men who see value in breaking the glass ceiling of the Oval Office.

The part about how Clinton didn't really emphasize her gender in 2008 is clearly the narrative her campaign would like to present, and is repeated in through the stories linked above. It's also utterly bogus.

"I think having the first woman president would be a huge change for America and the world," Hillary said during one of the Democratic debate in 2008. At another debate, in her closing statement, she said: "You know, obviously I am thrilled to be running, to be the first woman president, which I think would be a sea change in our country and around the world." At another, she found a way to emphasize her gender in the context of a discussion about Martin Luther King's birthday.

Hillary emphasis on gender in 2008 was too much for the New York Times. The editorial board, which endorsed Hillary over Obama, wrote:

By choosing Mrs. Clinton, we are not denying Mr. Obama’s appeal or his gifts. The idea of the first African-American nominee of a major party also is exhilarating, and so is the prospect of the first woman nominee. "Firstness" is not a reason to choose. The times that false choice has been raised, more often by Mrs. Clinton, have tarnished the campaign.

These days, Hillary is angry at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who recently pointed out that she was, in fact, still playing the gender card. The Democratic candidate pounced in response to a friendly question from a Huffington Post reporter during a friendly Q&A session on Facebook.

I bet Mitch McConnell is really regretting his "vote against giving women equal pay." You know, that bill that would have magically forced employers (e.g., Hillary Clinton) to pay their male and female staffers equally, if only Republican hadn't heartlessly opposed it. Hillary campaign followed up by literally playing the gender card:

In addition to being the first female president, if elected, Hillary Clinton would also be the oldest Democratic president in history, and the first white Democrat to win the White House in more than two decades.