Watchdog Blog

Carolyn Lewis: Woman to Woman: an Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Posted at 8:35 am, April 11th, 2008
Carolyn Lewis Mug

Dear Senator Clinton,

I guess it’s natural for you to expect that women will support you out of loyalty to our gender and because we have long harbored the dream of seeing a woman president. If so, I assure you that you’re mistaken. Like other voters, we are inclined to choose a candidate we perceive to be best equipped to lead us in these difficult times – regardless of gender.

To be frank, some of your campaign speeches turn us off. It isn’t what you say, but how you say it. You load up each speech with “I’s” and “me’s”, when what we would prefer to hear are more inclusive pronouns, “we,” “us,” “you.” When you talk so much about yourself you leave the impression that you care more for yourself and your ambitions than you do about the needs of others. You have criticized Barack Obama for his eloquence, but you might take a few pages out of his book and lift up our spirits now and then. Words do matter.

Again and again in your speeches you tell us that you’re tough and hard and well-seasoned. Forgive me, but you protest too much. Your words sound harsh and they fail to persuade. True, we want a president to be strong, but we prefer to discern for ourselves whether a candidate has that character trait. So eager are you to paint yourself as a fearless leader that some of us worry that, when the White House phone rings at 3 A.M., you might be too willing to employ military force, not because it is appropriate, but to prove how tough a woman can be. And that isn’t comforting. It’s scary.

If you are tough, why do you and your supporters complain about the treatment you receive from the media? Sure, reporters and pundits can be hard on you, but there are occasions when you merit the treatment. Even when it’s unfair, how you react is a test of your fortitude, a way for you to show that you can take it, emerging bloody but unbowed and without resorting to victimhood. It’s best to shrug off the barbs, or better still, laugh at their absurdity. A commander-in-chief can hardly be either thin-skinned or a victim.

I suggest that you stop trying to build yourself up by tearing your opponent down. It makes you look mean-spirited and catty. You have a formidable opponent in the race for the nomination. You were at your best when you acknowldged that. You are at your worst when you attack his character or sit idly by while your suporters do the dirty work. You can be critical and disagree on the issues, of course, but nastiness has a way of blowing back and landing on yourself.

Don’t imagine that you can ride to the White House on the strength of what your husband did in the 1990′s. Nostalgia for those good times offers a weak argument for solving the different problems we face in the 21st century. You have yet to offer an overarching vision for the future, nor have you told us where you would hope to take us should you gain the highest office in the land.

By the way, I would drop the expression “kitchen-sink politics,” as it creates an image of you, the woman candidate, wearing an apron and with your elbows deep in suds. Not exactly where a world leader should be situated.

In short, it’s the high road that can carry you far, whether to win the present contest, or to exit gracefully, dignified in defeat.

Yours respectfully,


9 Responses to “Woman to Woman: an Open Letter to Hillary Clinton”

  1. amen says:

    Oh Yes~~
    I am a woman and voted for Obama!!
    go Carolyn!!

  2. Nicholas says:

    Dear Carolyn,

    Respectfully, you’re full of it.

    The media has made a big deal about Senator Clinton wanting it both ways, but frankly, they are STICKING IT TO HER both ways.

    The media and Obamamaniacs hate for Hillary to cite her experience as first lady as evidence of experience for presidency, but they don’t mind criticizing her for being a part of the administration when it comes to NAFTA or a host of other topics.

    She also had the daunting task from the beginning of proving herself formidable, tough, leader, and she was labeled a mean bitch.

    Then she shows her humanity for one brief moment in New Hampshire and the media eats her alive for it. Thank God, NH women came out in droves to tell them that wouldn’t stand.

    She’s been told her campaign ‘is over, if she doesn’t…’ two handfuls of times during this election cycle, and every time like a warrior, she does what we say she must. She does it, she does it against all odds, against a CLEARLY biased media, and she often exceeds what is required of her.

    Remember when her campaign was over in New Hampshire? Nevada? California? New Jersey? Now, Ohio and Texas.

    Well guess what: EVERY time she’s done what the media say she must, and still they find a way to call for her head on a platter.

    Toward the beginning of this race, I was undecided between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.

    With our current two options, it’s not hard to imagine why so many Americans – including a majority of women – have come out for Hillary. Thank you, ladies!

    After hearing her ideas, comparing them against Obama’s, and after listening to them enough to realize who has solutions and who has soundbites, I’m more proud today than yesterday, and I was more proud yesterday than the day previous to stand up – loudly and proudly. I’m as proud as I’ve ever been to open my wallet and show my support. I’m more joyous than I’ve been yet to stand before you and shout from the rooftops that we need Hillary Clinton for president.


  3. alee21 says:

    Ms. Lewis,
    Respectfully, your comments are out of syc with reality. I am doubtful you will use the same criteria to judge a male candidate. Every criticism you levied at Sen. Clinton is equally applicable to Sen. Obama. In my capacity as a professional woman, it has been demonstrated over and over again that women are frequently the most critical and unsympathetic towards their female colleagues. It is apparent that you are no different. Sen. Clinton is treading a difficult path as the first viable, yes female, presidential candidate and to her credit she has done an amazing job. I see her through all of her imperfections and my respect for her as an individual and policy maker increases with time.

    Your article is shrill and provides no insight as to why you are so anti-Clinton. Do not use the term “woman to woman”. You certainly don’t represent me nor the millions of other women that support Sen. Clinton. In fact, you are entitled to your personal opinions and as such, you should post your letter privately. I suggest that you remove your posting from the web as soon as possible.

  4. Kirin says:

    This letter is so eloquently written and perfectly stated. AMEN!

    I too, am one of Mrs. Clinton’s supposed demographic voters; white, middle-aged female, who well remembers Bill’s era. However, the way all of the Clintons and staffers have run this campaign, has made me rethink many issues as they have pointed out so many of their own blunders. I now known without a doubt, that I would not feel the least bit safe with one, let alone two Clintons back in the White House.

    Barack Obama, on the other hand, has handled all of your “Kitchen Sink”, mudslinging and this entire campaign, with grace under fire and dignity. He shows he can do what it takes to get the job done in office, while maintaining repeatedly has demonstrated his integrity and that of the American people. This is the person I want answering the phone at 3 a.m., or any other time, and I will be placing my proud vote for Obama in our upcoming primary and in the General Election. It’s about time we had OBAMA for President.

    Thank you Carolyn Lewis for stating what so many of us feel and have observed. We women, we true feminists who have seen a few Presidents in office, are not as naive as some have painted us out to be. We are intelligent, caring and capable of making our leadership decision, based on character and ability, not name or gender, or any other defining characteristic.

  5. KyleS says:

    Ms. Lewis,

    Respectfully, I have to say this article is one of the prime examples of woman on woman violence in culture. You would not be using these criteria to evaluate a man. Every argument I have read by women on this topic (that is anti-Hillary) have started with lovely platitudes about how women dream of a woman in the White House. Well, guess what — you’ve got a real chance, the first and only real chance women have ever had. Take it. Like it or not, Hillary Clinton IS the woman who can be president. And in spite of the media hatred of her, she is going to be a great president.

  6. Barbie says:

    Dear Carolyn Lewis,

    Your letter is very thoughtful and encouraging. There is nothing to add, as you spoke for many women out here who feel the same way.

    Warm regards,


  7. Truth Police says:

    Ms. Lewis,
    Couldnt have said it better myself. Thank you for your letter. Hillary could have had my vote. I was torn between both candidates. I have been avidly watching the political situation in this country for years and am tired of the kind of politics Pres Bush has displayed. Hillarys campaign has been run just like a neocon would run theirs. She lost me because of her willingness to distort the truth over and over again. She should have run on her REAL merits instead of creating a false image.
    Truth Police

  8. Jim Michie says:

    Cheers for Carolyn! Hillary finds herself in an ever-deepening pothole created by her highly disorganized and dysfunctional “campaign.” The latest issue: Bill Clinton accepting $800,000 for four speeches in support of the Colombia trade deal, while Hillary claims she is against this trade deal. Hmmmmm . . . If this isn’t dysfunctional, please tell me what is.

  9. Sharo says:

    I have been glued to the computer screen and TV screen for months hoping that Hillary was what we all wanted her to be. I could not wait to vote for the first woman president. I even voted for her in the Texas primaries. But I have lost hope. I try to ask myself, would we tolerate this in a man? Is this some latent sexism even in my own views. And I have concluded, no it is not. Bottom line, she can not run a campaign. How can she run the country? The Columbia trade scandal sealed the deal for me. I can no longer support her. I just pray Obama is what he says he is. God help the USA. I am truly worried.
    -Sharon in Texas

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