I don't really know how to respond to Holy Dolphin Lady's paean to Margaret Thatcher except to say that I find Noonan's contention that there is one appropriate way for a woman to conduct herself in politics (carry a purse, eat beef, and govern like a mean daddy) to be utterly sexist, as well as transparently partisan: Thatcher supported policies Noonan liked; therefore, she is to be emulated by all female chief executives.
It's not clear to me that, apart from noting the obvious significance of possibly being the first female president, Hillary Clinton has, in fact, made her gender all that much of an issue, certainly not to the extent that Noonan insists. But if so, so what? As Ann and Jessica indicated last week, male politicians accentuate their gender all the time, they just don't get called on it because in our political culture we expect our male leaders to strut like cocks for our votes. It's also because there is a wider selection of types after which these leaders can acceptably model themselves: George W. Bush the straight talking rancher, John Kerry the thoughtful war hero, Rudy Giuliani the abusive jerk. Insisting that female leaders conform to these types, and offering up female leaders who did as examples of the "right way for ladies to lead," is just another way of advocating a conservative philosophy of government, and of reinforcing prejudices against women in politics.