Ladies on the Trail

Unless John McCain picks a woman as his running mate, the next president and vice president will both be men. And whichever of them reach those offices will owe a lot to the women who worked to elect them.

So how are they doing for their men? Actually, they are proving to be a powerful force.

Hillary’s New Job as Unifier

“She was able to play with the boys and earn the respect” said Sen. Hillary Clinton’s mom in a video that lead up to her highly anticipated speech last night at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Did Hillary "play with the boys” and act as an attack dog for the Obama campaign like they wanted? Was she a good little Democrat and help to unify the party? For all political purposes, yes.

Introduced by her daughter Chelsea, Sen. Clinton received an extremely warm welcome and immediately launched into rhetoric of working “together” as Democrats and failed Republican leadership. “No way. No how. No McCain,” said Hillary.

She thanked her supporters whom she referred to as her “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits” then urged them to vote Democrat by asking, “Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?”

Hillary’s speech had strong undercurrents of feminist themes as last night conveniently marked the 88th anniversary of the women’s right to vote. Some of her most crowd-energizing words were quotes from Harriet Tubman, hero of the Civil War era underground railway. But Clinton used them to stoke the feminist fire.

Now — for personal purposes non-political — not once did Hillary state that Barack Obama would make a good president, nor did she speak of his background or policies. Although she did mention that Michelle Obama would make a good first lady.

Michelle my Belle

Michelle Obama — as planned — effectively re-packaged herself as a patriotic mother, wife and sister Monday night in her speech in Denver. Gone was the bitter African-American woman who is — only now — proud of her country since her husband is running for president.

Michelle was confident, articulate, and attractive. Her abrasive temperament was invisible as she offered her love for our country to the applause of the crowd. The emotive liberals ate it up. Her kids were cute and — even in the carefully-scripted family moment — she seemed genuine.

“All of us driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do; that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be,” said Michelle.

“And that is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope. And you see, that is why I love this country.”

And from there on the main stream media re-invented Michelle’s campaign.

Headlines on AOL, Yahoo, and CNN plastered her quote all over the net. As a matter of fact — do a Google news search on the phrase “I love America” — as of late Tuesday 4,828 articles with Michelle’s name in the first sentence appear on your screen. Bravo. What does it mean to love America? After Monday night apparently it means to be Michelle Obama.

Just Cindy?

As I watched the masses in the convention center shed tears while Michelle shared stories of Barack Obama as a young father I wondered: how will Cindy McCain ever beat this, and does she need to?

There are few, if any, parallels between the aspiring first ladies. Cindy has not had to back track or apologize for gaffes. There is no need to convince Americans that she loves her country and she is equally as intelligent and graceful — yet the truth of the matter is — Cindy’s speech will not carry the pomp that Michelle’s did.

AFP won’t write a story titled “Cindy la Belle for President?” There will be no vertical campaign signs touting C-I-N-D-Y and it is unlikely that conservatives will cry.

So does that make Michelle and Barack better for the country? Sounds like we are back to the ever popular Liberal keystone — emotion over substance and common sense.

FYI — while Michelle was tugging at your heart strings Monday night, AP reported that “Cindy McCain visited a school and former government building housing hundreds of Georgians forced to leave their homes for the relative safety of Tbilisi in the conflict with Russia.”

It is highly likely that Cindy may capitalize on this trip by mentioning it during her speech next week at the convention, and in doing so remind Americans of her husband’s national security experience in this time of conflict (part of the substance Obama lacks).

Cindy McCain has taken a low-profile role in the campaign. She is not prone to big speeches, but when she has spoken out, she has been forceful and convincing. How long will John McCain keep this potential game-changer on the bench?