ROBERT SIEGEL, host.

As Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations seem to be fading, many of her diehard fans are left disappointed but still proud. Writer Susan Cheever is one of them.

Ms. SUSAN CHEEVER (Writer): Why is it that the more Hillary loses, the better I like her? Yes, I know she won last night, but that's already being dismissed. To me, she's glowing with the inner fire of the warrior in a battle she can't win. Why do I identify with that so much? Why do I feel, after 40 years of voting that at last, for once, there's a politician who truly represents me and not just because she wears pantsuits.

When I tell a handsome man at a party that I support Hillary, he looks my black pantsuit up and down. That figures; you're an older woman, he says. I'm hurt but he's right. Hillary has worn away her youth in the service of a difficult husband, a smart child and the ideal of service. She was never the pretty, simpering, long-legged blonde we were all supposed to be. She had to find another way to be a woman. Me, too. I love her because she's a loser and I'm a loser, I tell my brother.

But Sue, you're a big success, he says. Hillary is a big success, too. But she's a worker, and women don't get respect for being hard workers; they get respect for having good legs. She's a woman dedicated to social justice, and women don't get respect for their dedication, they get it for their baking skills. She's a woman with staying power, but women don't get respect for their staying power, they get respect for their sexual power.

My generation of women were told that our biggest job was to marry the right guy and the sooner the better. When I went for career counseling my last year of college, the dean gave me her condolences. All our best girls are engaged, she said. Oh yes, it sounds outrageously antique, but is it? I never talk for long about my 26-year-old daughter, a lawyer and an activist at Harvard without someone asking, and is she seeing someone?

Women like me usually run for president of the PTA or president of some nice arts organization. We don't usually get to run for president of the United States. At last, here's a woman who wants to play with the big boys and she's qualified, and she's giving them a run for their money, and I love her for that.

SIEGEL: Susan Cheever lives in New York. Her latest book is called "Desire."

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