It's Obama's to lose now. The race is as good as over.
On the Democratic side, that is. The Obama Phenom is gaining velocity and surge, not losing it. Sen. Barack Obama will get his comeuppance from the media the kind of sorting-through-each-pebble raking that all front-runners endure. But he'll get it after he passes the magic number of 2,025 delegates that allows him to slip his finger through the Democratic gold ring the nomination. His raking will come too late to benefit Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Young women have rushed to latch onto Obama's comet coattails. A friend of mine who is fundraising mightily for him says "Obama is a woman" because he's more pro-choice than Clinton. After all, on that most stereotypical of women's issues, Clinton refers to the "tragedy of abortion." She loses progressives as she attempts to navigate the non-existent common ground on this most divisive of issues. Obama, on the other hand, talks about the tragedy of unwanted pregnancies. In what seems to be the sunset of the era of the religious right, that's quite the courageous stand to take.
If Clinton loses the nomination, do women lose? Rights? Power? Visibility? Clout? Are they not taken as seriously by the political establishment? A month ago I would have told you yes. Now I believe the answer is no. Why? Because metrosexual, pro-choice, pro-health care, anti-poverty Obama is, in every political sense at least, more of a woman than Clinton.
When Clinton first went after the Democratic nomination, many women said, "I want a woman in the White House, but she's the wrong woman." Female voters tend to be 10 to 20 percentage points more anti-war than their male counterparts (post-9/11 era excepted.) She voted for the war. Obama, while not in the U.S. Senate at the time, has made ending the war his campaign centerpiece. It was the politically expedient thing to do at the time. But in so doing she peeled off and turned off young progressive female voters.
Clinton secured support from the major feminist groups. But that support in this era is of questionable value. While I would not "dis" feminist foremothers(they were, after all, the first ones over the fence, clearing the way for those behind them) there is some truth to what Camille Paglia says about them on Salon.com:
"The old-guard feminist establishment has also rushed out of cold storage to embrace Hillary Clinton via tremulous manifestoes of gal power that have startlingly exposed the sentimental slackness of thought that made Gloria Steinem and company wear out their welcome in the first place. Hillary's gonads must be sending out sci-fi rays that paralyze the paleo-feminist mind because her career, attached to her husband's flapping coattails, has sure been heavy on striking pious attitudes but ultra-light on concrete achievements."
C'mon, Camille. One could say the same thing on "concrete achievements" about ultra-liberal darling Obama. Clinton at least has done a fabulous job of filling the pork pipeline to her home state of New York. Obama on the other hand was caught recently by the New York Times lying on the campaign trail about passing an anti-nuclear bill that never passed.
What's his legislative claim to fame? None.Still Clinton's female supporters who are watching Obama's movement coalesce, solidify and take over should console themselves there will be a woman Democrat in the White House either way if the Democrats win the general election. The nominee will either be a woman with double-X chromosomes, or one with XY chromosomes who votes more like a woman than most with XX.
Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail bonnieerbe@CompuServe.com.