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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Hillary Clinton Has Taught Us That 'Likability' is a Terrible Way to Choose Presidents

“Likability” is a mishmash of recycled Victorian gender norms that keeps women out of power. In the realm of politics, it devastates. Just ask Hillary Clinton:

Is Hillary ‘Likable Enough’?

Hillary Clinton Has a Likability Problem

Is Hillary Clinton Likable Enough to Beat Donald Trump?

These eye-roll-inducing headlines account for just a smattering of the digital detritus that litters our daily news diet. Likability is an inherently subjective, often sexist metric for professional ability. And yet, Hillary’s “likability” has preoccupied not only the great minds of media but also the masterminds of the Democratic National Convention. Indeed, the goal of the 2016 DNC, according to a variety of media sources including the Wall Street Journal, was to “Make Hillary Likeable Again” [sic]. (Perhaps, in order to fully intimate the idiocy of Donald Trump, the misspelling is intentional?) Indeed, in a column for the Los Angeles Times, Doyle McManus writes that Hillary’s biggest challenge is “mak[ing] herself seem likable enough for Americans to want her in their living rooms.”

Yawn. How many ways can you peel a banana? Well, if the banana’s name is Hillary Clinton, an infinite number.

More importantly, given the history of the exclusion...

Hillary Clinton, As Defined by 12 Years of Google Searches

Hillary Clinton’s Twitter bio is mildly provocative, but only if you can appreciate the cultural baggage that comes with it.

The presidential candidate describes herself as a “Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate.”

In a culture that prizes political power and encourages people to compartmentalize different aspects of their identities, it’s perhaps unexpected to see “Secretary of State” as No. 7 on the list. (Then again maybe not: Women who are mothers are often expected to define themselves first in domestic terms, regardless of their professional accomplishments. Recall the 2013 obituary for Yvonne Brill in The New York Times, which described her as a mom who left work to raise her children and the maker of a “mean beef stroganoff,” and—in the next paragraph—“also a brilliant rocket scientist.”)

Motherhood isn’t necessarily a status that ambitious women are taught to trumpet in the professional world. While men get a pay bump for being fathers,women’s pay drops with each additional child.

Clinton, in particular, has had a difficult time as a wife and mother in the public eye. In 1992, she set off a firestorm...

Why ‘Woman’ Isn’t Hillary Clinton’s Trump Card

At a recent rally on Roosevelt Island in New York City, Hillary Clinton remarked that she wanted the United States to be a place “where a father can tell his daughter yes, you can be anything you want to be, even president of the United States.”

According to some polls, parents can already tell their daughters that people will vote for a female president, and gender should not factor into Secretary Clinton’s candidacy for the highest office in this country. While America has not ever had a woman president, polls have documented that the majority of Americans have been ready to vote for a woman for president for several decades.

That wasn’t always the case. In 1937, 17 years after women obtained the vote, only 33 percent of those polled responded positively to George Gallup’s question: “If your party nominated a woman for president, would you vote for her if she were qualified for the job?”

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, support gradually grew, crossing 50 percent near the end of the 1960s. The population that openly disagreed with such a statement fell into single digits by 1999. In 2012, 95 percent of the public said they...

America's Rejection of the Politics of Barack Obama

The 2016 presidential race represents a vivid rejection of the Obama style. This is easy to miss: His approval ratings are climbing, and Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary by running as his successor. But the two most dramatic and portentous campaigns of the year, Donald Trump’s vertiginous win and Bernie Sanders’s astonishing insurgency, both flew in the face of the Obama era’s premises.

The Obama style had two pillars. He brought to apotheosis the American political tradition of redemptive constitutionalism. This is the creed of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and Lyndon Baines Johnson’s nationally televised speech on the Voting Rights Acts of 1965, in which he promised, “we shall overcome.” Redemptive constitutionalism holds that democracy and equal freedom really are the nation’s foundations, that slavery and Jim Crow were terrible deviations from these principles, and that, if we manage to take them seriously, to live by them, Americans will finally be free together.

In one respect, Obama’s victory and inauguration unavoidably embodied a version of this idea: a black man speaking the constitutionally prescribed oath, as Lincoln had done...

The Democrat That Republicans Really Fear Most

CLEVELAND—It was a question no Republican here wanted to contemplate.

The query alone elicited winces, scoffs, and more than a couple threats of suicide. “I would choose to shoot myself,” one delegate from Texas replied. “You want cancer or a heart attack?” cracked another from North Carolina. 

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have each been objects of near histrionic derision from Republicans for years (decades in Clinton’s case), but never more so than during the four days of the GOP’s national convention. Republicans onstage at Quicken Loans Arena and in the dozens of accompanying events have accused President Obama of literally destroying the country in his eight years in the White House. Speakers and delegates subjected Clinton to even harsher rhetoric, charging her with complicity in death and mayhem and then repeatedly chanting, “Lock her up!” from the convention floor.

But what if Republicans were forced to pick between them? What if the choice on the ballot this fall were not Clinton or Donald Trump but a Clinton presidency or four more years of Obama? Which would they choose?

My informal, completely unscientific survey of more than two dozen delegates and guests in Cleveland found that Republicans...

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