Hillary Clinton's Slow Retreat

Hillary Clinton is slowly — finally — bringing her active campaign to a close.

Even some of her backers, like Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, are lamenting that the candidate is taking so long.

Here's what he said in an interview with ABC news: "Unless she has some good reasons — which I can't think of — I really think we ought to get on with endorsements (of Obama) and dealing with what we have to deal with ... so we can move forward."

Rangel is saying what it seems many Democrats have been thinking for weeks but have failed to voice fearing the label of sexist. Many of Sen. Clinton's most fervent supporters claim sexism doomed her candidacy.

Yet, while certainly as a woman Sen. Clinton faced scrutiny that rarely haunts male candidates, even her feminist sisters-in-arms must recognize that her gender was also an asset.

For weeks, the delegate math has been clearly stacked against Sen. Clinton, but many pundits, and indeed even her rival, have tiptoed around stating the obvious.

It hasn't just been the end of the campaign (when Sen. Clinton was feverishly calling on her fellow women to support her groundbreaking candidacy) that her gender has served as a sort of shield.

Sen. Clinton touted her experience as a reason to vote for her; yet it is only compared to first-term Sen. Obama that Sen. Clinton's experience could look impressive. After all, while it seems almost impolite to bring up, Sen. Clinton's political experience has primarily been as "wife of."

Sure, she's now served as a senator from New York (a state she never actually lived in before becoming their elected representative), but that achievement is diminished by the blindingly obvious fact that she would have never been elected for that position if it weren't for her husband having been president.

Sen. Clinton's campaign has been heralded as trailblazing: Certainly it is worth celebrating that a woman had such success in the presidential campaign arena. Furthermore, women should take comfort that her gender was far from the reason Sen. Clinton's candidacy ultimately failed and — in fact — was a primary reason that she got as far as she did.

Carrie Lukas is the vice president for policy and economics at the Independent Women's Forum, a conservative think tank.

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