On the July 18 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Air America Radio host Laura Flanders said of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), "he's kind of become the female on this race. It's very interesting. He's seen as the weaker -- cute, attractive." Flanders then said of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), "Hillary is the one with the balls." Host Lou Dobbs responded, "Well, Laura, my goodness." The comments came after Flanders noted that daytime television host Oprah Winfrey was supporting Obama while, according to Flanders, Oprah's mother "is 100 percent for Hillary."
Dobbs then turned to CNN contributor Roland Martin "to work out the physiological symbolic gender-bending sort of analysis that Laura has put on the table." Martin said that Clinton "has no choice but to appear to be stronger because that was a perceived weakness being a woman running for president." Martin then said that Obama "has to play a bit safer, being an African-American running, not having a long amount of experience," and added that "he has a very difficult task of, well, do I -- the whole question: Is he black enough? Is he too black?" Dobbs responded by noting that Flanders had "introduced the idea that he's too female and Hillary's too male." Flanders added, "He's female enough for Oprah, and she's male enough for a lot of voters out there. It's fascinating. I mean, I think this is going to be an amazing election."
Flanders' comments followed similar remarks in the media recently. As Media Matters for America documented, after Internet gossip Matt Drudge posted a headline that read "GENDER BENDER: WIFE EDWARDS SAYS HILLARY 'BEHAVING LIKE A MAN," several media figures trotted out gender stereotypes about the leading Democratic presidential candidates while discussing comments former Sen. John Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, made about Clinton during an interview with Salon.com editor-in-chief Joan Walsh. MSNBC host Tucker Carlson asked on his July 17 show, "I mean, let's take this critique seriously -- is Hillary Clinton too manly to be president?" On the July 18 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, ABC senior national correspondent Claire Shipman claimed that "[t]here is striking gender role reversal on the campaign trail" because "Hillary Clinton [is] by far the toughest politically and stylistically," while Edwards and Obama "are emoting like crazy." In the July 17 edition of his "Best of the Web Today" column, OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto asserted: "Yet another ultraliberal woman has been won over" by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' "womanly charms: his spouse, Elizabeth Edwards," and then falsely claimed that Elizabeth Edwards had suggested in an interview that "Mrs. Clinton is more mannish than Mr. Edwards."
In the interview, Edwards said:
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." The question is not so much how she campaigns -- that's theater. The question is, what does her campaign tell you about how she'll govern? And I'm not convinced she'd be as good an advocate for women.
Previously, on his July 2 show, Carlson said that Obama "seems like kind of a wuss."
On the July 16 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, producer Willie Geist described a Clinton doll being advertised at the website HillaryNutcracker.com that features "serrated stainless steel thighs that, well, crack nuts," according to Geist. He introduced the story by saying, "I think the metaphor in this next story, Tucker, is pretty clear. So I will just report the straight facts." He later asked, "What do you think they're saying about Hillary?" Carlson replied, "I have often said, when she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs."
From the July 18 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
DOBBS: Well, let me start with Oprah Winfrey supporting -- who did she decide she wanted, Laura?
FLANDERS: Oh, I think it's Barack Obama all the way.
DOBBS: All right. Now, that's exciting. Who cares?
FLANDERS: Well, it's fascinating stuff. I was interviewing somebody yesterday who lives in Barack Obama's -- not only his hometown of Chicago, but in Hyde Park, where he's from.
FLANDERS: His mother -- her mother is 100 percent for Hillary. I am finding person after person, African-American women, AFSCME employees -- I went to that presidential forum. They like Barack, but he's kind of become the female on this race. It's very interesting. He's seen as the weaker --
DOBBS: Whoa, gender-bender.
FLANDERS: -- cute, attractive. And Hillary is the one with the balls.
DOBBS: Roland --
FLANDERS: That's what people say.
DOBBS: Well, Laura, my goodness --
FLANDERS: And so I'm fascinated that Oprah is really pushing it --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --
FLANDERS: -- but I think he's made for Oprah.
DOBBS: Well, you're going to have to -- Roland, I'm turning to you, from Chicago -- to work out the physiological symbolic gender-bending sort of analysis that Laura has put on the table.
MARTIN: First, keep in mind, she's been on the national stage 15 years. He's really been on the national stage just one year. Secondly, she has no choice but to appear to be stronger because that was a perceived weakness being a woman running for president.
MARTIN: He also has to play a bit safer, being an African-American running, not having a long amount of experience. And so he has to --
DOBBS: He's got to be --
MARTIN: He has to tread -- some water here.
DOBBS: He's got --
MARTIN: Because --
DOBBS: He can't make waves.
MARTIN: Well, no -- he can't make waves because, again, he's a new -- he's a new guy on the block, and he has a very difficult task of, well, do I -- the whole question: Is he black enough? Is he too black? You know, what's his stances? And so he's --
DOBBS: Well, now he's got a -- now Laura has introduced the idea --
FLANDERS: I think he's female enough --
DOBBS: -- that he's too female and Hillary's too male.
MARTIN: Well, I think what she's saying is that --
FLANDERS: He's female enough for Oprah, and she's male enough for a lot of voters out there. It's fascinating. I mean, I think this is going to be an amazing election.