Elizabeth Edwards didn't call Hillary Clinton a man

Responding to the right's distortion of my interview with Elizabeth Edwards.

Published July 17, 2007 4:18PM (EDT)

Matt Drudge is linking to my Elizabeth Edwards interview, with a banner headline: "Gender Bender: Wife Edwards Says Hillary 'Behaving Like a Man.'" Of course, that's not what Edwards said; the full context is:

"When I was a lawyer, I was the first female lawyer many people had ever seen. I had an obligation to my client to do the work right, but I thought constantly about my obligation to the women who came after me. If I didn't do a good job, they wouldn't get a chance to sit where I'm sitting. I think one of the things that make me so completely comfortable with [John Edwards running against Clinton] is that keeping that door open to women is actually more a policy of John's than Hillary's ... Look, I'm sympathetic, because when I worked as a lawyer, I was the only woman in these rooms, too, and you want to reassure them you're as good as a man. And sometimes you feel you have to behave as a man and not talk about women's issues. I'm sympathetic -- she wants to be commander in chief. But she's just not as vocal a women's advocate as I want to see. John is. And then she says, or maybe her supporters say, 'Support me because I'm a woman,' and I want to say to her, 'Well, then support me because I'm a woman.'"

I knew Edwards was making news when she criticized Clinton, but she was definitely not calling her a man, which is one of the GOP's favorite slurs against Hillary Clinton. This is the last, best hope of the Republicans to hold onto the White House: to brand the leading candidate, who happens to be female, as too mannish, while slurring the leading men -- John Edwards and Barack Obama -- as girly. Meanwhile, President Bush is the swaggering moron who won't ask for directions even though he's 100 miles off course, and the 2008 GOP lineup is a parody of masculinity -- not to mention a Mount Rushmore of infidelity. According to an Associated Press poll released today, GOP primary voters are still longing for someone different to throw his or her hat into the race. Elizabeth Edwards' point was to question Democrats who are making a straight gender pitch for women to support Clinton -- or for African-Americans to support Obama -- which is absolutely fair game.

By Joan Walsh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2008 Elections Hillary Rodham Clinton Matt Drudge