SWEET SUFFRAGE: Word in the halls and conference rooms is that Bill Clinton wants women--why do you think he's sent Hillary out of the house so much recently?
Actually, it's no big secret that Hillary Rodham's trips to speak about the welfare of women and children are about gathering women around the election box in 1996.
Fifty-four percent of registered voters were women in 1992 and 45 percent of them voted for Clinton, giving him a definite nudge into his current lodgings. So, what with the Republicans lining up tall guys all the time for a run at the southern Democrat, Clinton and groupies are already courting the female vote. Betsy Myers, sister of former flak for the prez Dee Dee, recently got her own office in D.C. where she'll be doing "outreach to women." (Hey Betsy, send us a couple of childcare vouchers for New Year's Eve through 2010 and we'll vote absentee right now.)
Seventy-five years ago, thanks to Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other big-mouth babes, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. Now, it seems, you can't expect to win the presidency without us.
And what do we want? Besides free tampons and all children out of poverty by next year, start with the same things we wanted in 1992. We wanted someone who was going to assure us of keeping our right to choose. Budget cuts are slicing family planning programs and we don't like it. Women have grown miraculously strong in this country trying to protect our bodies, and we want someone as strong as we are protecting our freedoms.
In 1992 we screamed for health care. Universal health coverage is something Clinton said he would not do without, says Elizabeth Kahn of the Campaign for Women's Health. In the end, Congress beat that into a bloody pulp and Hillary wasn't heard from again until the new campaign swing. In '92, according to the Women's Political Action Group, Clinton promised he would increase resources to fight breast, cervical and other gynecological cancers. More funding, says Kahn, never made the final budget. Hillary is out there beating her chest for more mammograms, but without money or insurance to cover them, no can do, Hill and Bill.
Women also make up a large population of the people on Medicaid, and with the severe cuts to that program for the poor, Clinton must focus attention on dollars lost, says Kahn. You want our votes, we want health coverage for poor women and children. And like it or not, women live longer than men, meaning we need help all the way to the horizon line. Clinton must continue to oppose cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, says Kahn. "Unfortunately his record of backing down on these things hasn't been too good," she adds.
PMS (Positive Makeover Suggestion): It would also help if Bill put on a kilt and grew his hair long so he looked more like Liam Neeson traversing the countryside. Now Bill Bradley's legs...
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