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How Being A Woman Helps Hillary On The War

This graf in Anne Kornblut's piece in today's Post was kind of interesting:

At the next Clinton stop, a town hall meeting in Derry, N.H., Leslie Harrison, 52, said the fact that Clinton is a woman is important as she considers how to vote in the New Hampshire primary. "Men have been making a mess of things for a long time," she said. "A woman would be more sensitive to sending our children off to war."

It made me wonder if being a woman has made it easier for Hillary to inch away from her Iraq vote. Maybe people (especially anti-war women) are more likely to believe she didn't have her heart in it (whether or not that's actually the case), or even to forget she voted to authorize the war in the first place. And, if that's true, maybe her vote on the recent Lieberman-Kyl Iran amendment won't be as damaging as it could be, since voters will be more likely to believe her when she says it wasn't a vote to justify or authorize military action.

In a sense, Hillary may get the best of both worlds here. She can compile a relatively hawkish record, which she can then emphasize in the general election should she win the nomination. But, because of people's biases about female candidates, the votes aren't as costly for her in the primaries as they might be for a man.

This is all entirely speculative, of course. But Hillary's advisers appear to be thinking along roughly the same lines. There is, for example, this elliptical graf in Kornblut's piece:

From the outset of the race, Penn and other Clinton advisers contended that she would gain a potentially decisive advantage from women voters. But her campaign had also forecast an emphasis on national security strength that, while present, has not dominated her candidacy.

On the other hand, if the perception is that Hillary is voting for a lot of hawkish measures she doesn't really believe in, then obviously that could be damaging.

--Noam Scheiber