The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 February 2008

Good morning, Madam President

Sarah is wondering if there will ever be a female President.

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer: But maybe not in 2009, which is not really what she wanted to hear:

Of course, no one is saying that you should select a less qualified candidate over a more qualified one simply because of gender. But as I told my friend — I don't hold out a lot of hope for a "good" President, so if the choice is between Mediocre Candidate #1 (who is male) and Mediocre Candidate #2 (who is female), why can't we choose the female candidate?

For "no one" read "nobody who matters, anyway." And of course whoever survives the Battle of the Mediocrities gets to face Mediocre Candidate #3 in the fall.

But then there's this issue:

I've heard a lot of people say that their problem with Hillary Clinton isn't that she's a woman, it's because she's Hillary Clinton. Maybe that's true, but I wonder if there just wouldn't be some other excuse if another woman was running. I wouldn't know, it's not like I have a basis for comparison or anything.

For the purpose of argument, we will stipulate that Hillary Clinton is a biological female. That out of the way, it must be said that the Senator has some serious negatives: El Rushbo is supposed to have said that she screeches like an ex-wife, a noise which not only annoys once-divorced Joe Sixpack but also isn't necessarily endearing to the present Mrs Sixpack, who is inclined to say things like "For someone who's supposed to be over her, you certainly talk about her a lot." I'd be hard-pressed to find any female officeholder who draws this much vitriol, even Sarah's examples:

Where are the female leaders who don't elicit such a visceral reaction from a sizable segment of the population? Condi Rice? Plenty of people can't stand her. Nancy Pelosi? Yeah, right. People hate her as much as they hate Hillary. There are other female Congresspeople, and even one or two female governors, but I suspect that if they had the visibility of Rice or Pelosi, the reaction to them would probably be depressingly similar.

The thing is, though, distaste for Pelosi or Rice tends to be on policy grounds. The Speaker catches flak from the right for being yet another hack Democratic liberal; the Cindy Sheehan contingent dislikes her for being insufficiently devoted to the task of disemboweling Dubya. Dr Rice is attacked from the left for her seemingly-slavish devotion to the President; she's criticized from the right by the folks who think we should be waterboarding the UN Security Council. Neither of them, however, seems to draw the sort of hatred which one could legitimately call "visceral." And frankly, I'd vote for either of them for President in preference to any of the Three Mediocrities, supra.

In the meantime, I plan to sit back and watch the ceremonial rotting of the fruits of identity politics, convinced that eventually we will elect a woman to the highest office in the land, not so much because she's a woman but because she'll be so much better than any of the other candidates that time around. Given the sheer awfulness of some of the men we've seen, it's just a matter of time.

Addendum: Francis W. Porretto concurs with that last paragraph, but:

Hard to argue with that. However, your Curmudgeon will note that the president is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States. We haven't yet had a female chief of service, much less a female Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nor a female Secretary or Undersecretary of Defense. The electorate will have to be mighty impressed with a female candidate for the presidency to elect her into supreme authority over all the above.

Britain's "Iron Lady," Margaret Thatcher, faced a piercing test of her suitability as Prime Minister when the Argentinean junta decided to invade the Falkland Islands. She passed with flying colors. But we would have to expect our enemies — and don't kid yourself; we've still got plenty of them — to mount tests at least as trying upon the resolve and political courage of a female president. Consider how many of our enemies are overwhelmingly the devotees of a hyper-masculine, hyper-patriarchal creed and culture.

If Mrs. William Clinton should secure the Democrats' nomination and win in November, whether by fair means or foul, she'll face a test of her willingness to use military means in defense of American lives, American property, or an American ally within three months of her inauguration. Remember that you read it here first.

Not at all an implausible scenario. On the upside, should she pass the test, think of the delicious dénouement: all those testosterone-ridden, socially-retarded yobs bested by a woman? You gotta love it just for the annoyance value.

Posted at 3:52 PM to Political Science Fiction

We need a Maggie Thatcher or Golda Meir type female running for prez.....peace through superior firepower

Posted by: paulsmos at 12:45 AM on 19 February 2008

Nancy Pelosi? Yeah, right. People hate her as much as they hate Hillary.

Not true. People don't know Pelosi as well as they know Hillary.

Posted by: McGehee at 11:32 AM on 19 February 2008