Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 11:26 pm | Fair 52º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Susan Estrich: Yes, Hillary Clinton Could Lose, But She’s Most Qualifed to Win



The chattering class, fed by the drumbeat of conservatives and the criticism of look-alike Republicans, is actually acknowledging that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not made entirely of Teflon.

Some of her support is soft. Some Democrats don’t like her. Never have.

Inevitability is generally a curse in politics. “Is he inevitable?” It was once asked of Walter Mondale, who proceeded to lose New Hampshire to Gary Hart.

We used to joke that an appearance on the cover of Time, which meant a lot more when there were less media, was almost always followed by some terrible scandal or setback.

Bill Clinton graced the cover of Time and it was no time at all before Gennifer Flowers did the same with the tabloids.

The problem with being inevitable is that all you can really do is lose; if you win, you’ve merely met expectations, and if expectations are too high, even a win can be a loss: most people (who remember at all) think President Lyndon Johnson withdrew from the race for re-election because he was defeated by Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 New Hampshire primary.

But he wasn’t. Johnson actually “won,” but since primaries are all about expectations, his failure to trounce an unelectable opponent was seen as a fatal sign of weakness.

Could Bernie Sanders do the same to Clinton in New Hampshire?

Sure. It’s possible. It is not always possible to win, but it is always possible to lose.

Still, if you could be in anyone’s shoes right now, for purposes of this contest, you’d have to pick Clinton’s sensible pumps.

Qualifications. Money. Experience. Political skill. Whatever you think matters most, she’s got plenty of it. Along with the baggage, of course.

Hillary Clinton is not going to win 100 percent of the Democratic vote, and no one should expect her to. There are some Democrats who think she’s not liberal enough, and others who want to make sure she doesn’t move too far toward the right.

And yes, there are some folks who just aren’t ready to vote for a woman for president, even a woman with more foreign policy experience than any man in the race, even a woman long criticized for being too “tough” in a world where women lose for not being tough enough.

When I looked at the numbers eight years ago, even I was shocked to see polls showing that 1 in 5 Americans would hesitate before voting for a qualified woman for president.

One in 5? How could that be? Easy. Go count the number of women running Fortune 500 companies. A record-breaking 24! And of course, 476 men.

When it comes to executive positions, unconscious sexism runs deep. You see it in corporate hierarchies, where even high-ranking women are more likely to be concentrated in staff rather than line positions, even though it is those line positions that lead to the top.

You see it in political institutions, where women are more likely to be elected to legislative rather than executive positions. Two strong women vied for mayoral seats in Los Angeles and New York and both lost.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein has long been among the most popular politicians in California, but she lost in her race for governor, and California is one of a long list of states to never elect a woman to be the boss.

“Does Clinton have to campaign?” someone asked me. Yup. She’s going to have to campaign at least as hard as the hardest-working man in the race.

That is how it has always worked for women, and certainly for women seeking power, but my father’s old adage still holds true: you can’t beat a horse with no horse.

Right now, whatever her flaws, no one comes close. 

Susan Estrich is a best-selling author, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to contact her or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >