Mothers for Hillary? Not yet.

By Kristin Teigen of Portland, Oregon. Kristin describes herself as "a stay-at-home mother and an activist."

As a mother and an activist, I have been all about pushing for mother's voices to be heard in the political realm. Considering what it takes to be a parent and give your soul for The Cause, it can be difficult for mothers to do both. As a result, our voices are overlooked when it comes to formulating policy and programs, many of which affect families so deeply.

So, given my passion, it would make sense that I would be gung-ho for the first mother who has a serious shot at being the president, Hillary Clinton. But I just can't get there. While there is so much about her that's admirable, her stance on the war is one that I just can't seem to stomach.

I understand that the issue is more complicated than it seems. Yes, she voted for the initial authorization of force, which she has said she did with the understanding that Bush would pursue diplomatic means first to contend with the supposed weapons of mass destruction. I don't necessarily expect her to apologize for that. And I appreciate how vocal she's been against the war in recent months.

What I am frustrated with, and what I do expect an apology for, was her refusal to support Carl Levin's amendment to the initial authorization that demanded, in fact, that diplomatic means be taken first. I also expect her to either fess up or to apologize for the fact that she didn't adequately read intelligence data that could have shed light on the threat of WMD's. I would have certainly appreciated her assessment of the threat as I think she's far more intelligent than Bush. If she did not read the reports, she should admit it and tell us that as president, she will never let anything like that ever happen again.

Ironically, it may be because she's a mother that she has made such mistakes.

Perhaps she was trying just far too hard to avoid the stereotype about mothers being weak on foreign policy. Perhaps she was politicking. Perhaps if she hadn't let herself be pigeonholed, she could have viewed the situation with a bit more objectivity.

Now, I admit to threatening to chain my kids to the basement if they ever want to join the army, although if we were truly fighting a war to defend this nation and essential freedom (which I believe this war is not), I would be there right along with my sons.

I'm not yet willing to give up on her.

Perhaps Barack Obama didn't have to worry as much about seeming weak. Of course, John Edwards didn't have to worry about his vote at all -- it's easier to say what you would have done if you didn't actually have to make the hard decisions.

As with her husband, I may end up supporting her despite obvious flaws. We'll see if she's willing to face some hard truths about her work in the Senate. Isn't that what being strong is all about?

My mother would say it was.

Comments

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    I realized I got my timing wrong about Edwards and Obama and the original authorization. Obama, of course, was not there in 2002, but Edwards was and he has since repudiated his vote for the original authorization.

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    Ding Ding Ding!! Kristin, you have totally hit the nail on the head.

    From this dad's perspective, I can not give my support to any candidate that showed such bad judgment on giving Bush authority to invade Iraq. Both Hillary and Edwards failed to read the National Intelligence Estimate which would have showed them that Bush's statements about their being "no doubt" about Saddam's WMD. They can apologize all they want, but they showed bad judgment and I'm not willing to trust them with my kids' lives. Hillary hasn't apologized, she just blames Bush. That shows me that she has the same stubborness of the current occupant of the White House and that is a very bad thing.

    As you indicated, Hillary's vote against the amendment to the Iraq invasion authorization that would have required additional diplomacy is inconceivable and unexplainable. Frankly, I don't know what Edwards' vote was on this amendment.

    Hillary has been working very hard since 911 to portray herself as a hawk, even using the same "stay the course" language and making the same link between Saddam and A-Q and other arguments that Dick Cheney did. This is explained in detail in the New York Times Magazine article "Hillary's War" at the following link:

    We don't need a hawk to protect our Country. We need someone with sound judgment and the courage to use it. That is why I am supporting Senator Obama.

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    Edit: The NEI report would have showed them that Bush's statements about WMD were not correct.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    The thrust of this article is whether to ignore the policies of a candidate in order to vote for them on the basis of gender. What?? Why don't we go ahead and throw race and religion into the question? Better yet, let's throw how pretty they are and if their hair isn't mussed.

    Hillary's votes and staements are right there in the public record, I wouldn't support her for dog catcher on that basis, but others may see it differently, that's a policy debate - her motherhood couldn't be less relevant. Think about it for a minute, there are mothers who beat their children, there are mother who kill there children, motherhood means exactly what?

  • (Show?)

    You might want to read it again. My point was that despite my sympathy for the work she's done while doing the hard work of being a parent, I'm NOT for her based upon her politics. Her gender doesn't matter, nor does her motherhood, as much as her politics.

    I'm also not essentializing mothers. We aren't a monolithic group of folks. Given the number of mothers involved in the political realm, however, (just look at the number in the Senate...), it's a type of life experience that is rarely given a voice in politics. And, we have issues that non-mothers often do not have, issues that often go unaddressed -- go to www.mothersmovement.org to learn more.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    Interesting. What if she's the candidate? As of now she is far and away a much better financed candidate and is seperating in a lot of polls. We could be looking at the Democratic nominee in Hillary Clinton. No she isn't my first choice either. Sure she screwed up on the war but so did a lot of people that I support. Here is something I think we should all agree on. A Republican will not end the war. With the exception of some of the 2nd tier Repubs their big 3 candidate are all for dragging this out as long as possible. The Dems big 3 candidates want to end the war ASAP. Hillary isn't my first choice but if she ends up being the nominee you can bet your ass I'm not going to waste my vote on a 3rd party candidate. We aren't going to have a big enough majority in the House or Senate to override a Presidential veto. This is still America and a 3rd party candidate has no realistic chance of winning. I suppose Bloomberg could do it because he has enough money to blow on a campaign but I'm pretty sure he's not for ending the war either. This absolutism on Hillary is really sort of boring because everyone always cites her authorizing the war but doesn't take into account that if she ends up being the nominee for the Dems she is the ONLY CHANCE we have to end the war anytime soon.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Hang in there, Kristin. Give Hillary a little more time and she'll get a focus group to persuade her to say what you want to hear.

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    Funny :) Just like she probably had a focus group tell her to vote for the war authorization. I will vote for her if she's the Dem nominee, but I don't have to like it.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Just like she probably had a focus group tell her to vote for the war authorization.

    The "probably" is redundant.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    With numbers in the 30s that puts 60s against her. The people who don't support her, really don't or they'd go with the "inevitable." Now I might be able to choke down a vote in the General, but work?

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    What if she's the nominee Garrett? We have several months here to work very hard to make sure that a better nominee is selected for the Dem party.

  • Sadie (unverified)
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    I think you all hit the nail-on-the-head in your latter discussion about focus groups. Hillary's problem hasn't been in one bad decision. Her problem has been that she acts, talks, and leads based on focus groups.

    That is scary for two reasons: either they're letting a mob rule them or they are manipulating the mob to get what they want.

    I think it is possible to lead with intelligence and ideas. You then gain the respect of the people, even when they don't agree with you. Sometimes you will even make decisions based on what the people you represent want vs. what you believe - but only when such a decision does not conflict with the rule of law and the facts.

    The difference I see between Hillary and Edwards is that Edwards has grown as a human being since his poor decision on the war. He seems to be a person with ideas, intelligence and the drive to make a difference with his life. Hillary still seems to be leading by the polls.

    It will be a sad day for this party if we allow the people of 2 states to decide, yet again, that focus groups, polls, and pandering are better qualities than character and ideas. To me Obama, Edwards, Richardson, and even Joe Biden show more character and ideas in what they do and say than Hillary does.

    Yes, Hillary would be better than anyone the Republicans have to offer. But I think our country is in such a state that we need more than somebody who is just better.

    We are still, what 7 to 9 months from knowing who our nominee will be and we already have apologists on Blue Oregon saying it is OK to just be good enough. Now is not the time to be dealing with hypotheticals - I sound like Hillary.

    I think the whole Dean thing has destroyed our ability as individuals to find somebody with qualities we like and get behind them early. Maybe we are afraid of what Hillary's bank account could do to try to attack their perfectly good characters if we did.

    If you look at all of their ideas and qualifications, we have one amazing candidate in this race: Richardson. If you look at ideas, delectability and character, we have three: Obama, Edwards and Richardson. I could get behind any one of them. But something is keeping me from choosing. I think it is fear of what will happen if I and the rest of the grassroots Democrats decide now.

    Now is the time for Democrats, here and elsewhere, to discuss our candidates based on how much we really truly like them. It isn't time yet to become apologists and line up behind AD (any Democrat).

    I love your post Kristin, but I want to know who people are for and why. I'm ready to start hearing that more. I'm tired of hearing what or who we are not quite for.

    I have so much respect for those out there who've made a choice. I wish that I could. I'm ready for that great feeling of knowing where I stand and getting my hands dirty working on their campaign.

  • Sadie (unverified)
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    Ha ha ha, that should have been elect ability not delectability! Though Edwards is certainly more delectable than the other two in my book :)

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    Sadie,

    You make some really great points, and I agree that writing a post about who you are for rather than against is probably more constructive. I'm just not there yet for any of the candidates. Hillary -- the reasons I stated. Obama -- I'm concerned about his experience. Edwards -- well, ok, I just haven't been convinced yet. Of anybody right now, I'm a Richardson fan, but I just don't know why he's not running harder. So much experience, a Western Democrat, great on so many issues. Perhaps the entire Clinton machine is focused elsewhere -- if Hillary wasn't in, perhaps the machine would be working for Richardson, given his history with the Administration. Who knows.

  • Sadie (unverified)
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    I'm right there with you Kristin. I want to get in; I just can't bring myself to do it yet.

    I truly enjoyed your post. I just want to see Blue Oregon focus more on featuring those who are decided. I think it will help in the decision making process more than those posts that focus on the undecided. For example the reformed Republican for Obama from today is more usefull in aiding me in my decision making process. It didn't make me want Obama, but I think it shed light on the fact that he is a rock star candidate that isn't quite ready to lead the ticket yet. He may be a good choice for VP, though.

    I'm being totally selfish here: I want help figuring out who to support. Right now I think I'm down to Richardson, the brilliant and Edwards, the great.

    The interesting side note on all of this is the Clinton - Richardson connection. I found his comments during the Democratic Debate last week very noteworthy. I don't want to weed through the transcripts to find it, but he mentioned something on the question of what he would do to use Clinton in his administration. His response included a huge props to the big guy, while noting that Bill Clinton is not so thrilled with him right now. I hope that wouldn't keep Hillary from asking Richardson to be her running mate if she wins the nomination. His foreign policy experience would be a huge asset!

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    Yes, his comments were interesting. The idea of Richardson serving as second banana to Hillary makes me a bit nauseous, given far longer and more impressive resume. I'd be much happier if was the other way around...if only Bill had married Bill.

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    Experience? I found the following posted by Kari Chisolm a while back regarding Senator Obama:

    He's got more experience in politics than either Rudy Guiliani or Mitt Romney, neither of whom are regulary criticized for being underqualified.

    If by "in politics" you mean "elected to public office", then you'd have to include Hillary Clinton and John Edwards there too.

    Obama: 10 years(1997-2007) Guiliani: 8 years (1994-2001) Hillary: 7 years (2001-2007) Edwards: 6 years (1999-2005) Romney: 4 years (2003-2007)

    And let's not forget Senator Obama's work as a community organizer, approx. 1985-88, and approx. 10 years as a constitutional law professor.

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    The last sentence of my previous post should not be italicized as it was not part of the quote.

    Also, watch Bill Clinton address the experience issue in his 1992 debate with Bush I toward the end of the following video:

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBBcHWw6ypE

  • Susan B. (unverified)
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    Oh, Matt, hon. Do you really want to go the "experience" route? Let's see...Sen. Clinton went to work for the Children's Defence Fund after graduation from law school. That was after she worked to represent foster kids during law school at legal aid. Then she worked on the House Judiciary Committee looking at impeaching Nixon. Remember him? Oh...that was decades ago. And that was all before she married a guy named Bill Clinton. Then she continued leading the charge on childrens' issues as First Lady of Arkansas. Education? Abuse? Health care? Human right/women's rights? Migrant workers? This woman has spent her life in public service so don't try to go there. You'll lose.

    Why not tout the accomplishments of your candidate instead of attempting to degrade the competition in hackneyed snippets? Let's not speak in grandious terms of hope for a better America and holding hands and singing Kum-ba-ya (which, contrary to public, opinion was NOT written in Portland, OR). What about your candidate proves he has "sound judgement and the courage to use it?" Shall I count the ways he has failed in that regard to date?

    <h2>As a veteran of a few too many negative campaigns, I'd like to see time spent on positive informational portrayals, not the typical circular firing squad we have all become SO used to. Positive SUBSTANTIVE portrayals with answers. Not rhetoric and flowery prose that tears at the heart strings and has us all pining for peace on earth. This is not a rehearsal. We need to win this one.</h2>
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