As someone who has been trying to get a woman on the ticket since 1984, I'm glad that the Democratic Party has so many women stars, starting with Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But in watching them both in action last week, I was pretty terrified, not for myself but for the Democratic Party.
The two most visible women in the Party know their stuff. Ask them anything about health care or consumer protection or the environment and you'll hear more details than you wanted. But neither of them seems able to just admit a mistake and move on.
Clinton came first. Post-Brett Kavanaugh, she had to know that she would be asked about her husband and the White House intern.
There is an easy answer and a ridiculous answer. The easy answer is that while it was not unlawful, it was entirely inappropriate. And if someone wants more, she's not the only woman who has gone through this, and each of us has to deal with the pain in our own way.
Here's the ridiculous answer: It wasn't an abuse of power, because Monica Lewinsky was an adult. I spent years — literally — defending Bill Clinton on television. And I never once denied that it was an inappropriate relationship because it was. I don't know that anyone is going to say no to a president, which is why he of all people should not ask.
Hillary Clinton could have said that. She could have admitted that she suffered greatly, and every woman with a cheating husband would have understood. But she, unlike her husband, has a difficult time admitting mistakes or acknowledging vulnerability, so she made headlines for a defense that not only put the affair in the headlines but also reminded people about what they liked least about her.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (aka Pocahontas) is a brilliant woman and an effective senator. But she is not Native American. This is not her strong suit. She fell for President Trump's challenge and is being skewered for it, not only by the president but also by Native American leaders. She didn't need to put "Native American" to get hired by Harvard Law School, and she shouldn't have. It looks a lot like playing for affirmative action, not to mention cultural appropriation.
She should have dropped it a long time ago. It wouldn't have been so hard. She needed to explain, apologize and move on. As for the explanation: When she was a kid, her mother told her that she should be proud of her Native American heritage, and she was. But it was obviously a mistake for her to claim that she was Native American when Harvard hired her. And then she apologizes, especially to Native Americans who have been subject to the sort of discrimination that she never faced, and then she moves on.
Making news because a DNA test finds a tiny percentage of Native American blood plays to her biggest weakness. Far from resolving things, she only succeeded in making headline news and leaving Cherokee leaders to explain that actually, she is not Native American.
Why can't she admit that? She made a mistake.
Why in the world would Elizabeth Warren want to keep the issue of her Native American heritage alive?
And why is Hillary Clinton out there feeling the need to defend her husband's relationship with Monica Lewinsky?
In politics, it is almost impossible to convince people who don't "like" you to nonetheless vote for you. And liking a candidate has less to do with ideology than character.
Can a Massachusetts liberal geek win the Democratic nomination? Yes. Michael Dukakis did it, and so did John Kerry. Winning the general election is much more difficult, especially if you're going to lose every "who would you like to have a beer with" question.
Sen. Warren, like former Sen. Clinton, strives for perfection, which is just not necessary. And not very attractive.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.