Another Perspective

Woman Up

Obama is running to be our first female president

By 6.30.08

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"Where are the white women at?"

That's a line from Blazing Saddles. It's also the question, indelicately phrased, now facing the Obama campaign.

With Hillary Clinton out of the race, her supporters are up for grabs. The question is how to grab them.

For Barack Obama, the strategy is simple: Act like a girl. In other words, keep doing what you're doing.

With millions of women on the rebound, Obama is in good shape to make a pass at them. He leads John McCain 51 to 38 percent among women, according to a recent Gallup survey, and an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows him ahead at 52 to 33 percent. Among Clinton's former supporters, Obama leads by a walloping 61 to 19 percent.

None of this should be surprising. Obama and Clinton split the female vote, and there's a reason why the margin was so close: Women wanted to vote for a female candidate, and they all did.

They just disagreed on who that was.

SINCE THE CAMPAIGN started, Obama has been more convincingly female than any other presidential candidate, including Sen. Clinton. Yes, she meets the biological requirements, but he has all the intangibles.

Consider: He loves to talk, he is obsessed with "healing" and hates fighting, he is queasy about guns, he is more style than substance, he is easily intimidated by his spouse, and he stinks at bowling.

And Oprah endorsed him. What more proof do you need?

While Obama was tossing bowling balls into the gutters, Hillary was guzzling beers and downing shots, speaking fondly about guns and hunting and sniper fire, and not wearing skirts. She ran as a fighter and compared herself to Rocky.

Clinton kept saying how much "stronger" she was than Obama, whom she attacked for being credulous and naive (i.e., a stereotypical woman). Her brand of feminism was, one might say, conspicuously masculine. Whenever she began a sentence, "As a woman...," you had every reason to think she was lying.

Despite talking endlessly about womanhood, Clinton rarely exhibited it. There were two exceptions: in New Hampshire, when she shed tears, thereby showing her emotional side, and on the Senate floor, when she displayed some cleavage, though not on purpose, she later made clear.

For once, we could believe she wasn't lying.

IT'S A LITTLE strange when you think about it -- a woman out-machoing a man. And yet it's already happened twice to Barack Obama.

Michelle Obama leaves no doubt as to who wears the pantsuits in the Obama family. Unlike Hillary, who was adamantly defended by her spouse, Barack has been enthusiastically ridiculed and belittled by his.

From Mrs. Obama we learn of her hubby: He snores. He has bad breath. He is nerdy, strange, and pathetic. He can't "put the butter up when he makes toast." She speaks vaguely of her husband's strengths and very specifically about his flaws.

It's nice to know she has his back. Rather than standing by her man, Michelle prefers to stand behind him, the easier to push him around.

"I've spent my life trying to convince him not to be a politician," she said recently. "It's like teach, write, sing, dance. I don't care what you do. Just don't do this."

She does, however, have one job in mind for him.

"I don't know if Barack knows yet," she told an audience in Wisconsin. "We can announce it on the news tonight. He's going to be the First Lady."

Ouch.

MICHELLE IS JUST "joking," of course. But every joke or quip contains an element of truth, and what her stand-up comedy routines reveal is a compulsion to emasculate her husband, who delights in the abuse.

"He relishes the fact that I'm not impressed by him," she revealed. But what he lacks in machismo, he makes up for with masochism. "Thank you ma'am, may I have another?" seems to be a common refrain.

All this will raise questions down the road, if not sooner. If Barack can't stand up to Michelle, how is he going to keep Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from slapping him around?

Obama's whole shtick is, "I'm not like other guys." It's a favorite at nightclubs and senior proms, but in this case it's true. Obama isn't like other guys.

He is even more unique than he first let on. Not only does he transcend race, he transcends gender as well. Now it's up to the voters to determine if he's the right -- er -- person for the job.

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About the Author

Windsor Mann is a writer living in Washington, D.C., and the editor of The Quotable Hitchens: From Alcohol to Zionism.