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Patriotic critics, not wimps, shrews Bush administration would help nation if it accepted role for loyal opposition

The same down 'n' dirty Texas political machine that brought you Al Gore as Mr. Greenjeans and Sen. John Kerry as a swiftboat swiftie now wants you to believe Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is too angry a person to become president.

Angry? Isn't Rush Limbaugh angry? Wasn't Trent Lott angry over how poor ol' Strom Thurmond was treated? Wasn't Rick Lazio angry when he left the podium in his Buffalo senatorial election debate with Clinton to wave a paper in her face?

Oh, but they're all men? Men can get angry. It shows they're manly men; upstanding, righteous, heroic, tough. Women can't be angry. That means they're losing it, they're crazy, irresponsible, unpredictable. In the basest annals of male myth and gender stereotyping, it's the hormonal thing.

To presidential adviser Karl C. Rove, male Democrats are wimps, female Democrats are shrews, and labels are made for the chairman of the Republican National Committee to affix. Never mind the facts. A woman whom Ronald W. Reagan regarded as his closest international confidant ruled Britain with an iron fist in the '80s, winning a war with Argentina. Forget that the Philippines, Chile, Liberia and Germany haven't collapsed under female presidencies. Neither did Texas with Gov. Ann Richards. Golda Meir led Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

Clinton, for her perceived faults and whatever her ambitions, at least tries to show a Democratic other cheek in the face of Rove's cynical obfuscating. This is a man whose top aide was indicted and who has a history of Machiavellian success in Texas politics. He's this President Bush's Lee Atwater, at whose side Rove apprenticed. (Atwater said in 1988 he would "take the skin off" Democratic nominee Michael S. Dukakis. See a parallel?) A president with honor would get Rove's resignation.

If Clinton gets angry, that's her right. She said Wednesday: "I take a back seat to nobody when it comes to fighting terrorism and standing up for national homeland security.

"Don't come in and try to impugn people's patriotism because they ask you hard questions. Don't come around any longer and say that, you know, if you wonder why we're not more successful in Afghanistan or Iraq then somehow you're giving aid and comfort to the enemy . . . Since when has it been part of American patriotism to keep our mouths shut?"

Seems tough, righteous, upstanding and -- as Rove's worst nightmare -- widely appealing.

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