Does a female front-runner make the race different?

A recent article in The New York Times addressed the consequences of an American presidential race having a female front-runner for the first time in history, creating context for what was a considerable controversy when, in a Democratic debate last week, the other candidates “attacked” Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for upwards of two hours.

During the Oct. 30 debate (video and accompanying transcript), the other Democratic candidates openly criticized Clinton in what her husband, former President Bill Clinton, called a Republican-style, Swift boat-like campaign, alluding to the smear campaign mounted by Swift boat veterans against 2004 presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

Among the accusations were:

  • That Clinton is flip-flopping on the issues, changing her position whenever it is convenient
  • That she would not give clear, definite answers to questions posed during the debate, particularly on whether or not she supports giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in New York.

This criticism is leading some to cry sexism.

John Edwards, specifically, as well as the press, would never attack Barack Obama for two hours the way they attacked her,” Geraldine A. Ferraro, a 1984 vice presidential candidate, told the Times. “It’s OK in this country to be sexist,” she said.

“It’s certainly not O.K. to be racist. I think if Barack Obama had been attacked for two hours — well, I don’t think Barack Obama would have been attacked for two hours.”

Clinton’s opponents and others, however, claim that she is using her sex as a shield to criticism in the tough world of politics.

It’s outrageous to suggest that it’s sexist for the other candidates to ask her tough questions or criticize her,” said Kate Michelman, a women’s leader and an Edwards supporter. “To call it sexist is to play the gender card. Any claim of sexism is just a distraction from the fact that she did not do well in the debate,” she told the Times.

All this, of course, on the heels of another womanly controversy at a campaign event in July, when critics claimed Clinton showed too much skin, and the Washington Post published a story about Clinton’s “cleavage on display.”

My advice? Stick to the issues – like, say, health care.

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Iraq, health care are major issues in 08 election: VOA

Voices of America writer Jim Malone reported Friday that experts believe the war in Iraq and health care will likely dominate the debates as the presidential campaign continues.

“Whenever there is a war that becomes the issue for a generation,” said one expert Malone quoted.

Iraq, but also typical Democratic concerns such as health care, for example, are on the list,” said another. “But given that candidates wind up having more or less similar positions on a host of issues, I think it does come down to factors such as personality and perceived electability.”

Is this a Democratic race?

According to experts in Malone’s article, Americans generally tend to like change after one party has been in control for eight years – and it doesn’t hurt the blue party that many Democratic issues, such as health care, seem to be at the top of the voter priority list.

Still, according to one expert Malone interviewed, in order to win the election, a Democratic candidate will have to show a strong record on foreign policy, considering that we may or may not be in the shadows of a recession because of the war in Iraq. For now, though, they seem to be ahead.

Candidates use Internet to reach female voters

About 8 million more women than men voted in the 2004 presidential election, according to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). And while men may be more visible in politics – as well as on political blogspace – women are online, too, and presidential candidates are trying to find ways to reach them, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leading the way.

Mindy Finn, Romney’s director of e-strategy, told New York Times columnist Katharine Q. Seelye that it’s easier to find women online because they tend to go online for a specific purpose – for example, to find information about health care, parenting and cooking. Therefore, Finn said, using women’s interests as a way to seek them out online is ideal.

Plans to reach women online

  • The Romney camp will start tagging women-related keywords (such as health care), so that female Internet searchers will be directed to Romney-related items, in this case, his health-care plan (video)
  • Campaign directors for Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) are reaching out to women with the aid of a band of female bloggers who run a site called Momocrats.com, on which the members post to each other’s blogs. It is described by a founder as a community of mothers who blog, and who also “see the need to bridge the gap between the campaign and the community”
  • Clinton’s supporters are sending out “HillGrams,” weekly e-mails with updates to her campaign and issues about which women care

The point?

There were more than 20 million single, female, eligible voters who did not vote in 2004 (according to Clinton), and candidates are trying to use any means possible to get their attention in the next election. This will be especially important for Clinton, considering that she is the first and only serious female contender for the job; by appealing to women’s values, she will be more likely to get some of those 20 million non-voters to show up at the polls, and increase her chances of victory. In order to compete, Republican frontrunners Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani need to do the same.

Health industry diseased, voters don’t trust politicians to find a cure

Iowa voters’ survey concludes current approach to health care all wrong

  • A survey conducted by the national, non-profit, non-partisan group CodeBlueNow!, published Oct.9, found that a majority of its 601 Iowa-voter subjects agree that the current health-care system is broken
  • Only 22 percent said they trust the federal government to fix the system
  • Only 12 percent said they think the presidential election will improve health care in the United States
  • 63 percent said there is already enough money going into health-care policy, but it is not being spent effectively or efficiently

Voters want a new focus, more accountability

  • Most people surveyed (63 percent) said the focus of a new health care system should be on disease prevention, rather than developing high-technology cures
  • 75 percent said there should be more accountability and public reporting in the health-care industry, like we have in public companies, such as electric and water companies
  • 74 percent said there should be uniform health-care guidelines for professionals to use (with regard to explaining costs and benefits so patients can make good choices)

Cost, cost, cost

  • 14 percent of those surveyed are satisfied with the cost of health care
  • When asked about the worst thing about the health care system, 43 percent said its cost, while 30 percent said coverage issues
  • 34 percent said they were “very dissatisfied” with the cost of health care in the U.S., and 27 percent said they were “dissatisfied”

Summary findings

  • In the study’s conclusion, its authors noted the following:
    • “Although [those surveyed] see the need for reform, there is no clear consensus about who should lead the charge, who should oversee a national health care system if one emerges, or how it should be paid for. Most voters find the idea of a non-partisan, non-profit organization of citizens and professionals appealing for this role but many want assurances about the expertise of the people within the organization, its goals and how it will be funded. While they do not trust government to solve the problem, they may not embrace a completely private-sector organization either. The only clear agreement is that whatever group tackles the problem needs to rely heavily on health care professionals for advice and counsel.”

Clinton: Bush Declared “War on Science”

Not just science, but medical research

  • Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said she would reverse Bush’s financial restriction on embryonic stem cell research
  • Clinton also said she would “shield science from politics,” and lift federal limits on stem cell research
    • (As of right now, the federal government finances only cell lines that were already in use in 2001, when Bush signed the restriction.)

So what does this mean?

  • Embryonic stem cell research allows scientists to discover what happens during the developmental stages of human life
  • This research is useful for testing new drugs and understanding why patients get various cancers, as well as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
  • If we understand why people get these diseases, stem cell research could help find a cure

A Wealth of Health on the Web

Hot Topics for Health Care 2008

Since this blog will address how the 2008 presidential candidates are handling the question of effective health care for Americans, these topics and more will be worth watching:

  • Universal health insurance: Many candidates are calling for every citizen to be required to have health insurance – this does not mean the government would provide that coverage for everyone, just that everyone should have it. See what the experts are saying about Hillary Clinton’s plan here.
  • Medicare: Senior citizens’ health care is another big issue. In this article, Gov. Bill Richardson anounced he has a new plan for senior citizens’ health care. In this one, Medicare announces it will recoup $4 billion from U.S. drug companies because spending was lower than expected.
  • Kids’ health: Barack Obama’s plan requires that only children participate in required health care. Here’s a “Huffington Post” blogger’s post on the fate of kids’ health care.