In an interview on Nightline that aired last night, Hillary Clinton discussed the unique challenges she faced as woman running for president. “No woman has ever won a presidential primary before I won New Hampshire. This is hard. And I don’t expect any sympathy,” she told ABC’s Cynthia McFadden. Still, she wouldn’t mind it if everyone let go of their personal biases against a female leader. “Every so often I just wish that it were a little more of an even playing field, but, you know, I play on whatever field is out there,” she said. There’s no doubt Clinton has been forced to perform a sort of ridiculous high-wire act this campaign, trying to find the perfect balance between attracting women voters without scaring away men, seeming human without seeming too much of a female human. Too much either way, and she falls into the safety net below (the Senate). But it’s also true that as a black guy with a problematic middle name, Barack H. Obama is competing on an uneven field as well (just ask Gaydolph Titler).
John McCain’s surrogates and allies are using every chance they have to remind people just how scary that name is to them. And it doesn’t escape anyone that, name or no name, many Americans harbor some prejudices against black people in general. If anything, the playing field is steep for both Democratic candidates. But let’s hope their efforts level it out a little for the next guy. Or woman. —Dan Amira