Kimberley Strassel, Wall Street Journal:
Women Republicans don’t get to engage in such vote-buying. They are expected to be principled, knowledgeable, serious. They are expected to propose policies—sometimes unpopular ones—designed to help all Americans. And, because the general public (both right and left) is still new to the idea of a woman president, they are expected to do all this twice as well as men.
This was Elizabeth Dole’s problem in her fleeting 2000 presidential bid. Ms. Dole ran on her gender, arguing America ought to elect its first female president—which was no argument at all. It was a problem in 2012 for Michele Bachmann, who loved to claim special insight as “a mother of five” and a “homemaker.” It was a problem for Sarah Palin, whose occasional flubs allowed late-night comics to undermine her seriousness as a vice-presidential candidate.
The Iron Lady didn’t do identity politics, and Ms. Fiorina doesn’t either. At the debate she offered unadulterated substance. She was informed, focused, specific. Want to know what Carly thinks of Putin? Here. Need Carly to explain how hard it is to alter the 14th amendment? Right at ya. Curious if Carly is familiar with Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, and where he’s traveled lately? Boom, boom, boom.
Ms. Fiorina had the opportunity to play the gender card, but she didn’t. Asked about Donald Trump’s comments on her appearance, she might have derided the billionaire as a misogynist. She didn’t. When Chris Christie essentially told her to shut up, she might have looked wounded and wilted. She didn’t.
It isn’t that Ms. Fiorina doesn’t talk about women, or ignores that she is one. It’s simply that she acknowledges it matter of factly, and in the context of opportunity for all. As the men on stage fumbled to think of a lady heroine to grace the $10 bill, Ms. Fiorina demurred. “I wouldn’t change the $10 bill or the $20 bill. I think, honestly, it’s a gesture,” she said. “We ought to recognize that women are not a special interest group.”