Matthews on Clinton "being surrounded by women": "[D]oes that make a case" for or against her as commander in chief?

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On the June 24 edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, during a discussion about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), host Chris Matthews asked Kathleen Parker, a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group, if "being surrounded by women" makes "a case for commander in chief -- or does it make a case against it?" Parker answered by referring to a June 21 front-page Washington Post article about the women working as senior advisers to Clinton's campaign: "It makes a case with a certain demographic, and I noticed the picture on the front of The Washington Post the other day showed her with all these women and her crew, and did you notice, there was only one blonde out of about 15 women, so it sort of -- I thought that was very telling." Parker never explained what was "telling" about the hair color of Clinton's top aides.

Asked by Time managing editor Richard Stengel, "What are you suggesting by asking does this diminish her as a commander in chief by being surrounded by women?," Matthews replied: "No, the idea that it -- well, let me just get historic. We've never had a woman commander in chief."

As a follow-up to his question, Matthews said: "But isn't that a challenge, because when it comes down to that final decision to vote for president, a woman president, a woman commander in chief, will be an historic decision for people. Not just men, but women as well." Turning to New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, Matthews added: "Elisabeth, you're always thinking about these things." Bumiller referred to Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher -- women who were elected to lead Israel and the United Kingdom -- and said: "[W]e all remember these women. ... I think we can get there." Matthews responded, "But we've got Patton and John Wayne on our side." Stengel then added: "That's why [Clinton] has to be so strict about the war, because it's like Nixon can go to China, the woman has to seem like she's more militaristic even than the men. And that's a part of what she's got."

As Media Matters for America has noted, Matthews -- who on his June 24 program said that he "love[s] gender politics" -- has frequently focused on gender issues when discussing Clinton. He has said that "some men" say Clinton's voice sounds like "fingernails on a blackboard," and wondered if Clinton is "a convincing mom." Matthews also claimed men "are afraid" to criticize Clinton and that "men don't knock Hillary," and he previously invoked John Wayne to suggest that Americans -- and specifically Republicans -- "want a strong, tough, sometimes a pushy, offensive leader."

From the June 24 edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show:

MATTHEWS: OK, let's put the gender thing in here. I love gender politics, guys. We have two women here all the time to make sure we're balanced on this show. But Elisabeth, I know you're a feminist, in the best possible sense of that word. You [Parker] probably are in a more traditional word.

PARKER: Totally. I pay my own bills.

MATTHEWS: OK, well let's talk about that. I am stunned at these last supper scenes, where the Last Supper in history was all men, every scene you see with Hillary is a lunch, and it's all women. She is advertising her sisterhood. Is that something she can use to help sell herself as a future strong person defending this country, or does it get in the way? Elisabeth.

BUMILLER: No, I don't think it gets in the way; it's the base of her support. That's how she won in New York; she won because of women. It's not elite, you know, women that she appeals to, it's much more of a broader base.

MATTHEWS: Women with needs.

BUMILLER: Anyway, but that's a source of her strength, and I don't think that being a, you know, conservative -- more conservative than others on the war -- is going to hurt that at all.

MATTHEWS: Kathleen, being surrounded by women, does that make a case for commander in chief -- or does it make a case against it?

PARKER: It makes a case with a certain demographic, and I noticed the picture on the front of The Washington Post the other day showed her with all these women and her crew, and did you notice, there was only one blonde out of about 15 women, so it sort of -- I thought that was very telling.

STENGEL: What are you suggesting, Chris?

MATTHEWS: Well what does that mean? I want to know what you're suggesting.

PARKER: Well, I don't know, but that was definitely noticeable.

MATTHEWS: What am I suggesting?

STENGEL: What are you suggesting by saying does that diminish her as a commander in chief by being surrounded by women?

MATTHEWS: No, the idea that it -- well, let me just get historic. We've never had a woman commander in chief.

PARKER: No, you start picking on her. As soon as men start picking on her --

MATTHEWS: But isn't that a challenge, because when it comes down to that final decision to vote for president, a woman president, a woman commander in chief, will be an historic decision for people. Not just men, but women as well. Elisabeth, you're always thinking about these things.

BUMILLER: It's Golda Meir, it's Margaret Thatcher. I mean, we all remember these women. I, you know, I think we can get there.

MATTHEWS: But we've got Patton and John Wayne on our side.

STENGEL: That's why she has to be so strict about the war, because it's like Nixon can go to China, the woman has to seem like she's more militaristic even than the men. And that's a part of what she's got.

PARKER: Right.

MATTHEWS: Right.

Network/Outlet
NBC
Person
Chris Matthews, Kathleen Parker
Show/Publication
The Chris Matthews Show
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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