Your Mail: Not Fans of Hillary, But Agree Media Is Unfair

In my article on the lack of Republican presidential candidates for 2008, many of you wrote me with your theories of who would be successful. Some of you argued that, in the case of Mitt Romney, the Christian community wasn’t predisposed against Mormons, and others felt conservative Christians would still rally around the socially moderate Rudolph Giuliani.

As for Hillary Clinton, most of you gave me reasons for not liking her that are separate from her sex. I wonder whether media coverage of a female candidate is fodder for the negative qualities it is perceived that she has.

Dave Martin writes:

I’m about as far on the other end of the political spectrum as I can be from you, but normally like your writings. I seldom agree, but at least you’re not mindless with your comments like most Bush-bashers. That being said, I find it quite amusing how folks like you are already promoting to the high heavens that Romney is a Mormon. Were he a MUSLIM… that would be a problem. As bigoted as you believe most conservatives are, you totally overestimate their religious bias.

SRE: I’m sure you will concede that there is some religious bias – we will see if it is enough to alienate voters.

Roger Younts writes:

I am a conservative Republican Baptist, from North Carolina, and I can tell you we are going to rally around Giuliani. The only thing a president can do on abortion is appoint Supreme Court Justices that will overturn Roe, and even that won't stop abortions.

Rudy has said he supports a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution and that Chief Justice Roberts is his ideal Justice. That will satisfy conservatives. And we know he is great on all other issues, especially and most importantly in foreign policy and on the War on Terror. Finally, we know if nominated he will win and get rid of the Clintons once and for all. Go Rudy!!!!

SRE: Thank you for your thoughts – I agree about Roe, but wonder whether most conservatives will want different views on other life issues or gay marriage.

Chris Stonesifer of Bethlehem, Pa., writes:

Who do the Republicans turn to? I would propose three people. Several years ago there was talk of Jeb Bush, though I doubt it he could win now. Newt Gingrich helped turn around the GOP in the 1990s and could make a great presidential run in 2008. Finally, there is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; not only is she a woman, but she is also African American. This takes away the advantages of both Clinton and Obama; not to mention her approval rating is over 55 percent.

In a recent poll of right-of-center bloggers Condi is the favorite by a landslide over Giuliani and Jeb Bush, the respective second and third place finishers.

SRE: I’m pleased that you also think greater representation for women and African Americans is important. Thank you for passing this along.

Bob Meyer writes:

My aversion to Hillary Clinton has nothing to do with "sexism." I think she's as phony as any male candidate, and that's what I object to. It's time for our "leaders" to say what they mean, mean what they say, and not try to tickle our ears with meaningless and indecipherable platitudes and sound bites, especially when those platitudes and sound bites may be in direct opposition to their true views.

Personally, I'd like to see a woman as president of the U.S., but Hillary Clinton? NOT! Surely there are more qualified and honest women lurking out there somewhere.

SRE: Thank you for writing and I respect that line of thought. I just wonder whether media descriptions of Hillary Clinton affect our thoughts of her.

W. Russell of Durham, N.C., writes:

Although I am not a supporter of Sen. Clinton, you make excellent points on the coverage of her steps to a presidential candidacy. I had noticed (and hoped someone in the media would) the excessive use of the word “coy” in describing Sen. Clinton’s every move. I have wracked my brain and cannot recall a single instance where that adjective has been applied by anyone in the media to the excessively "coy" John Edwards.

Perhaps what the coverage indicates is a lack of vocabulary to discuss a woman running for president who has a very good chance of winning.

SRE: Great points, thank you!

Mary Dawson writes:

What an insightful article! I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton, but I agree with your assessment whole-heartedly. She is being treated and assessed differently by both the media and her opponents, simply because she is a woman. My fervent hope is that this does not put her in the front-runner position simply because other women are either sympathetic of her treatment or indignant about her treatment by the status quo.

SRE: I think it is important that women are conscious of her treatment in the media, although middle-aged women are historically a group that she has had to work hard to win over. Thank you for your thoughts!

Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.

A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership.

Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.