Noonan: Clinton “has to seem like a woman” to win

In her October 19 column, Peggy Noonan claimed that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) “problem is not her sex, as she and her campaign pretend. That she is a woman is a boon to her, a source of latent power. But to make it work, she has to seem like a woman” [emphasis in original]. Noonan wrote, “No one doubts Mrs. Clinton's ability to make war,” adding that she “invented the War Room” and “listened in on the wiretaps,” presumably a reference to an allegation that Clinton listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation involving Bill Clinton's political opponents during his 1992 presidential campaign. In reporting the allegation, which Clinton's presidential campaign said is "categorically untrue," Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr., co-authors of Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Little, Brown & Co., 2007), cited only a single anonymous source.

Gerth and Van Natta wrote that during the campaign, Clinton “listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics plotting their next attack.” They also alleged that “Bill's supporters monitored frequencies used by cell phones, and the tape was made during one of those monitoring sessions” and described the tape as having been “obtained under questionable circumstances.” According to the endnotes of Her Way, Gerth and Van Natta's only source for this claim is an "[a]uthor interview with former campaign aide present at the tape playing in 2006."

Media Matters also noted that in Noonan's June 22 column, she wrote that Clinton “has to prove she has normal human warmth, a normal amount of give, of good nature, that she is not, at bottom, grimly combative and rather dark.” She also claimed that the Clintons' spoof of a scene from the series finale of HBO's The Sopranos “jokingly acknowledges what the Clintons well know: that a certain portion of the voting population sees them as ... well, as gangsterish.” Noonan also asserted in the column that Clinton “doesn't have to prove she's a man. She has to prove she's a woman.”