A Woman Advantage?

Via GFR, a Peter Beinart column that, while full of interesting notions, doesn't make sense to me. The main point is that as the public becomes more interested in international cooperation and less interested in military conflict, voters become more open to woman candidates and this is helpful to Hillary Clinton:

Not coincidentally, the percentage of Americans who say they will vote for a female presidential candidate has returned to roughly 90 percent. And the approval ratings for John McCain -- the contender most associated with an aggressive, ultra-tough foreign policy -- have crashed. A February 2006 poll found that, when asked whether a man or a woman would do a better job as commander-in-chief, respondents were evenly split. And, when asked who would do a better job on foreign policy, the hypothetical female candidate led by eight points. It stands to reason. If voters who oppose the Iraq war remain more likely to support female candidates, as they were several years ago, that's good news for Clinton, because there are a lot more of them now.

But this has nothing in particular to do with Clinton. Presumably, any non-Lieberman Democrat will be helped vis-à-vis John McCain insofar as the public grows more skeptical about the use of military force. The more important bit of research Beinart sites comes in the next paragraph where he observes that "Research shows that female candidates--especially Democratic ones--are perceived as more liberal than they really are." This quickly gets turned around into a clever pro-HRC point ("She may find it easier to run as an antiwar candidate because that is how people are predisposed to see her. Ever since she entered the U.S. Senate, Clinton has been trying to overcome people's ingrained perceptions. Now she must hope she hasn't succeeded too well.") but I think it's obviously a huge problem for her candidacy.

Who wants to nominate a candidate who's going to be perceived as more liberal than she really is? Who benefits from that, exactly? Well, it's a good combination from the point of view of Al From, but I think from other points of view it's pretty clearly a raw deal. You want a candidate who broadens the appeal of progressive politics (perhaps Petey has a recommendation), not a candidate whose a useful mechanism for selling a not-so-progressive message to the base voters in the primary.