Amanda at ThinkProgress writes that:
During last night’s post-Democratic presidential debate analysis, MSNBC host Chris Matthews was hung up on the fact there is a woman running for president. After questioning Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) about Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) position on entitlement reforms, he then asked Dodd, “Do you find it difficult to debate a woman?” Dodd, not surprisingly, said, “[N]ot at all.”
The question gets dismissed by Rachel over at HuffPo:
Watch how he can’t wait to ask the burning question that’s been on his mind all night: "Do you find it difficult to debate a woman?" After, he reveals where his mind is when he thinks of what Hillary Clinton called her "36-year conversation" with her husband and partner. There is no other word for this than "Sheesh."
Actually the question is a lot more interesting than these writers allow. Many men have been instructed since birth to be considerate of women’s feelings, not to direct harsh words and language at a woman, and generally not behave aggressively toward the fairer sex. These niceties, however, while desirable in most situations, do not apply to the political stage.
Dodd’s answer was obligatory – none other is permitted, in truth – but was he being entirely truthful? Probably. Candid? No.
Politics is all about mind, be it the intellect of integrity and ideas, the cleverness of political angling, or the brilliance of polished oratory skills. In a battle of minds Hillary (and other female candidates) are their opponents equals, at least. Any Republican who thinks that he can cow Clinton with a bombastic verbal attack will quickly be disabused of the notion. As a friend of mine says, "She can be meaner than a junkyard dog!"
Yet Matthews’ question is relevant at just this point. Hillary and her positions must be countered with an intellectual force equal to her own. But at no point can there be even a hint of physical aggression toward her, for an unconsidered hand motion or inadvertent step forward could generate thousands of sympathy votes in her favor.
Will it be hard to debate Hillary? Yes, on many levels.