Hillary would bomb Iran just to look tough? Get real.

ERIC THAYER/Getty Images James Fallows thinks Hillary Clinton’s supporters need to come to terms with what the harsh realities of gender politics would mean for her foreign policy if she were elected president: [H]aving voted five years ago for the war in Iraq, which she then continued to support for years, she went ahead this fall and voted for the ...

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597744_071206_hillary_05.jpg

ERIC THAYER/Getty Images

James Fallows thinks Hillary Clinton's supporters need to come to terms with what the harsh realities of gender politics would mean for her foreign policy if she were elected president:

[H]aving voted five years ago for the war in Iraq, which she then continued to support for years, she went ahead this fall and voted for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which however you slice it was essentially a vote for legitimizing military action against Iran....

ERIC THAYER/Getty Images

James Fallows thinks Hillary Clinton’s supporters need to come to terms with what the harsh realities of gender politics would mean for her foreign policy if she were elected president:

[H]aving voted five years ago for the war in Iraq, which she then continued to support for years, she went ahead this fall and voted for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which however you slice it was essentially a vote for legitimizing military action against Iran….

If she is sworn in as the first female president, she will still have to remove doubts about her “toughness.” There will be the 2010 midterms to think of. And of course the 2012 reelection campaign. And if she is tough enough to get through that, then concerns about her legacy. Over the long run, is there any difference between a candidate who needs to “seem” hawkish on questions like Iraq and Iran, and a candidate who is an actual hawk?

I sympathize completely with her predicament: dealing with those atavistic voter emotions about the “weakness” of female candidates is a terrible problem. But here’s the predicament it creates for voters. If I don’t want the next president to be someone who had a hawkish outlook on both Iraq and Iran, do I say: Never mind, she’s not really a hawk, she just has to vote like one?

This is the kind of phony trumpeting of the “gender issue” that is at once disappointing and completely unwarranted. Legitimate, substantive questions can and should be asked about Clinton’s positions on Iraq and Iran. But to insinuate that as president she would attack Iran with no motive other than the fear of being called a sissy is preposterous. Andrew Sullivan apparently agrees with this cacophony, too. I know it’s a boys club over at The Atlantic‘s blog shop, where just one of the seven “voices” is a woman, but come on, fellas. What century are you boys living in? It certainly hasn’t played out that way with Condi Rice on North Korea and Iran. Angela Merkel, Germany’s first female chancellor, helped convince Bush to exhaust all peaceful efforts with Tehran before seeking punitive steps. And when was the last time you saw Nancy Pelosi calling for a military strike lest she be considered weak? If you want to discuss Clinton’s qualifications for the presidency, fine. But let’s talk about the things that matter.

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