A feminine warrior

After weeks of toiling on Hillary Clinton‘s behalf, Arden resident Stan Safian saw the stars beginning to align for her last week.

Clinton edged past opponent Barack Obama by nearly 10 points in the Pennsylvania primary, a contest pundits were calling a must-win for the New York senator. The next day, Hillary’s friend Ann Jordan, wife of longtime Bill Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan, came to Asheville to warm up the local crowd.

House that Hillary built:M The Clinton campaign headquarters in Asheville. Photo by Jonathan Welch

Safian, a recent transplant from Long Island, has been a Clinton supporter since the former first lady ran for the Senate in 2000. The day before Sen. Clinton arrived for a campaign appearance here, Safian stood in the central room of a house at 24 Arlington St., which had recently been converted into Clinton’s Asheville campaign office. Jordan’s talk had just ended, and Clinton supporters—mostly mature women—were passing in and out of the house.

“The support that we’re getting from women in their 50s and 60s is amazing,” noted Safian. Part of Clinton’s drawing power for that age group, he suggested, stems from her support for universal health care. “We have met people down here—friends—who are 60 years old and are working at Home Depot just for the health insurance,” he said incredulously. “They’re waiting to turn 65 just for Medicare. It shouldn’t be. It just shouldn’t be.”

Until a half-dozen paid Clinton staffers arrived in Asheville a few weeks ago, the campaign’s local arm had been strictly a grass-roots, all-volunteer affair, and supplies were understandably limited. But two days before the candidate’s appearance, a pair of U-Haul trucks brought in signs and other promotional materials left over from another primary. There were also laptop computers, boxes of cell phones and hundreds of “Team Hillary” T-shirts.

Inside headquarters, the walls were covered with sign-up sheets, volunteer protocols, scores of sticky notes and maps of Western North Carolina.

“Women believe in Hillary because she’s a fighter,” said a smiling Maggi Zadek, perched on a folding chair nearby. Another New York-to-Asheville transplant, Zadek wore a fuchsia T-shirt with an image of Clinton done Che Guevara style.

“She’s a feminine warrior,” said Zadek. “She gets knocked down, she gets back up. She’s everything we dreamed we could be.”

The big show

On April 24, Thomas Wolfe Auditorium was at near-capacity. Banners and signs proclaimed messages like “SMOKEY [sic] MOUNTAINS FOR HILLARY” and “MY MOM VOTED FOR YOU IN PA. I’M VOTING FOR YOU IN NC.”

Madam President? Hillary Clinton brough her campaign to the Asheville Civic Center’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium April 24 to discuss her “solutions for a strong military” and other parts of her platform. Photo by Jonathan Welch

Sometime after 9 p.m., a side curtain parted and Clinton crossed the stage, joining a cadre of retired military leaders that included Gen. Hugh Shelton, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all seated in front of a divider that said, “Solutions for a Strong Military.”

During a detailed, 30-minute speech, Clinton offered a point-by-point look at the policies she said her administration would concern itself with: Rebuilding “accountability in the White House”; withdrawing from Iraq; ending dependence on foreign oil and tax benefits for companies that ship jobs overseas; restoring fairness to the tax code; reviewing the nation’s trade policies; establishing “Build America Bonds” to fix the national infrastructure; and combating global warming.

“Some people say, ‘Can we do that?’” Clinton said about halting climate change. “And I say we do not have a choice—our future, our planet, depend on it.”

If some of the evening’s military talk seemed lost on the Asheville crowd (Brig. Gen. John Watkins’ opening observation that “If [Clinton] has to pull the trigger, she’ll pull it” skittered and died on the auditorium’s floor), the mere mention of the words “affordable health care” brought a standing ovation. And Clinton’s assertion that she would create a national early learning program and “bring an end to No Child Left Behind” caused a clamor of applause and shouting. Her final words, “Let’s go, North Carolina!” were absorbed in an oceanic roar.

Still, with the primary more than a week away and polls showing Obama ahead here, it was evident that there was much work to be done. Clinton volunteer Ann Wechter of Fairview, who stood for hours before the speech holding a hand-lettered sign reading “GROUP SEATING,” was looking more than a little fatigued by the end. Among her other campaign duties, said Wechter, she’d volunteered to get supplies for a Sunday “bagel brunch” at the Arlington Street headquarters.

“Food is a good magnet,” Wechter observed, adding that she hadn’t yet settled on a bagel supplier. “I’m going out tomorrow to comparison-shop,” she said, smiling weakly.

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2 thoughts on “A feminine warrior

  1. entopticon

    I think the problem is that Hillary is not a feminine warrior, she is a warrior against feminism.

    A feminine warrior wouldn’t have repeatedly sided with the man being accused of sexual harassment over his victims, especially after he was caught lying under oath in a court of law about his infidelities.

    A feminine warrior wouldn’t have participated in the smear campaigns against his victims. The only message that sends to women is don’t report sexual harassment or the boss’s wife will destroy you.

    A feminine warrior wouldn’t have gotten the rapist of a 12 year old girl off by attacking her character and arguing that she had a thing for older guys. 12 year old girls do not ask to be brutally raped. Clients deserve a defense, but that crossed a line.

    A feminine warrior would be someone who was trying to communicate and raise the dialogue, rather than constantly resorting to guilt by association smears.

    A feminine warrior would not be the one taking more money from the arms industry than all of the other candidates from both parties combined.

    A feminine warrior wouldn’t have earmarked more money for arms dealers than all of the other candidates from both parties combined.

    A feminine warrior would be open to talking with those we disagree with, rather than trying to bully them into submitting to our will first.

    A feminine warrior would not have taunted Putin by saying he has no soul. The only people who would benefit from a return of the cold war are arms dealers. Putin was right to respond that “at minimum, a head of state should have a head.”

    A feminine warrior would have stood up against George Bush and Dick Cheney, rather than voting to authorize the use of force in Iraq, which ended up costing hundreds of thousands of women and children their lives.

    A feminine warrior would not have voted for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which was nothing more than a ruse for the neocons to lay the foundation for an invasion of Iran.

    Hillary Clinton is a warrior, but not a very feminine warrior.

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