I think it’s time for a real woman to be president of the United States. I’d like to see Elizabeth Warren in the job, or maybe Kirsten Gillibrand or Kate Brown--but I still have my doubts about Hillary Clinton.
I have a certain amount of respect for Senator Clinton. I don’t deny that she has great intelligence and drive. She has presence and self-confidence. She is tough. I admit she surprised me in her campaign run against Barack Obama, when it was clear she was not going to get enough delegates to win. She showed great courage. And when the job of Secretary of State was bestowed on her she accepted and performed it with grace.
Now that she’s beginning to emerge as a candidate again, we are reminded of the Hillary of the old “travelgate” days. Instead of fully and confidently explaining why she fired a lot of people, she went into ballistic mode and made the molehill it was into the mounting her enemies wanted. When she does make a speech, like the one she made defending herself in that little email flap of a few weeks ago, she is uneasy and defensive, and her default position is--as it was in the Benghazi episode--an exasperated, “What-difference-does-it-make” posture.
The Right paints her as a flaming Liberal, the Left as a middle-of-the-roader; in reality she will say whatever it takes to seem reasonable. Her defenders say she’ll fight for women’s rights and children’s rights. But she doesn’t convince me. I can’t say I know anything about where she stands on matters vital to the leadership of this troubled land. When the Republicans treat her as they did President Obama—and they will—she is likely to be combative where he was pragmatic. Her fans would prefer that; Obama’s detractors have called him everything from cold to cowardly for rising above the fray. Hilary’s style is more strident, less cool. I suspect that will play into the hands of the Right, and the country will not be the better for the resulting fireworks.
Perhaps my instinct is based more on my aversion to her husband than to her. I may be the only person in the country who finds him shallow, insincere, blundering—and I cannot for the life of me see what everybody is so charmed by. “If you met him at a party,” they say, “You would know how brilliant and charming he is.” Even if that were so, I do not feel that being a charismatic party guest is on my list of requirements for a person I’d vote for for president. I wouldn’t necessarily want to vote for somebody who I’d like to have a beer with either. I still hold him accountable for NAFTA, “Work-Fare,” and letting Osama Bin Laden go the first time. But I don’t deny that having him in Hillary’s corner will be a great asset for her.
I have been ready for a woman president long before most people can remember. For years there have been a few strong women pretty highly placed in political office. One even ran for President.
I’d have supported Shirley Chisholm if she had lived long enough to run when the time was right. She wrote, when she ran for the office in 1972: "I am a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. I make that statement proudly, in the full knowledge that, as a black person and as a female person, I do not have a chance of actually gaining that office in this election year. I make that statement seriously, knowing that my candidacy itself can change the face and future of American politics — that it will be important to the needs and hopes of every one of you — even though, in the conventional sense, I will not win."
Ms. Chisholm was wise, charismatic, brilliant and brave. She did not evade when asked where she stood on the issues. She was the right person, but at the wrong place in the wrong time. She was unique and the country was not ready for her. I’m sorry to say that, since I had voted for Dick Gregory in the 1968 election and was persuaded by my colleagues that my vote had put Richard Nixon in the White House, I chose McGovern over Chisholm in order to get Nixon out. Seeing how successful that kind of thinking was, I have voted my conscience ever since, almost never going for a candidate from either major party.
The country’s first Jewish Congresswoman, she didn’t worry about how she looked or what group might be offended if she opened her mouth. She was a true Feminist who didn’t worry about appearing feminine. She shot from the hip, and got more flack about her hats than about her policies. She once said, “The inside operation of Congress -- the deals, the compromises, the selling out, the co-opting, the unprincipled manipulating, the self-serving career-building -- is a story of such monumental decadence that I believe if people find out about it they will demand an end to it.” If she had had focus groups her candidacy for anything would have been dead on arrival – or she might not even have arrived.
A few years later I supported Arizona State Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Pat Schroeder in her short-lived bid for the Democratic nomination for President. Schroeder couldn’t raise sufficient funds, and apparently didn’t have the fire in the belly necessary to stick it out. She was bright, inspiring, and witty, coining the phrase “The Teflon President” about Ronald Reagan. She also said, “America is man enough to elect a woman President.”
I agree with that. I’m pretty certain that our next president will be Hillary Clinton, and that she’ll do a fair enough job, now that Barack Obama has put in place so many programs that will come to fruition in the four years after his presidency. I will be happy that there’s a woman president, and I think she’ll go down as a great one, thanks in no small part to him.