Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Being a Woman of Substance

When we think of women of substance, those who have made a difference, who do we think of? When we think of the struggles they may have overcome who might these women be? When we think of leadership qualities such as courage, resolve, intelligence, and wisdom, who comes to mind?


Helen Keller
Anita Roddick
Eleanor Roosevelt
Mother Teresa
Benazhir Bhutto
Fannie Lou Hammer
Margaret Thatcher
Oprah Winfrey
Martha Graham
Mary McLeod Bethune
Golda Mieier

Now...can you picture Governor Palin as the President of the United States, making a mark like any of these? I can't see it. Am I being too harsh? I don't think so. But with such a unilateral decision we should be harsh, regardless of gender. Remember Dan Quayle? Where is he, by the way?

The change needed is not about change for change sake. It's about a different direction for the good of the country and who is best suited to lead. It is not about a sexy decision, one that's new and exciting for the sake of change, void of wisdom. Nor is it about gender. It's about who can step in at any moment, with the confidence of the American people, and lead the Free World.

Elections are about who the American people think is suited or ill-suited to lead. But since we do not choose the vice presidential candidate, we must look at the judgement and wisdom of the presidential candidate. With the current vice presidential choice, I just can't shake the sense that we, the American people, have been disregarded and disrespected.

What about Kay Bailey Hutchison, Olympia Snowe or Elizabeth Dole? Regardless of their politics, I don't think too many people would disagree that they are formidable indeed and could step in and lead on the national and international level. But I guess these women of substance, all over 50, are not sexy enough to be the vice president. Maybe they should have run for the presidency.


Mark JF said...

There were many people in the UK who doubted that Margaret Thatcher would make a good PM. By their very nature, these are not the sort of positions where candidates can point to a very similar job they’ve done in the past and say, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.” History will give us plenty of examples of people who looked good on paper but just couldn’t cut it in the top job and others who have learnt on the job and grown into it. Ultimately, the only test is actually doing it.

From where I sit, in the UK and with a limited knowledge of American politics, you have Mr. McCain with a long record of service and a VP nominee who is short on high profile experience. And you have Mr. Obama who has a short record of service and a potential VP with a very distinguished record. (In fact, I think Mr. Biden is the most impressive of all 4 people, but that’s just me!)

To me, what distinguishes the candidates is that Mr. Obama seems to have chosen a running mate who a) complements his own strengths and weaknesses; and b) would probably be able to step up if Mr. Obama became incapacitated early on. Or in other words, he’s indicated that he’s got the ability to put a team together.

Mrs. Thatcher was able to put together a team that reformed the UK and drove through major change. By all accounts, her cabinet meetings were tough and not for the unprepared or undecided or cautious. She also made sure things got followed through. I guess the US has got about 3 months to assess which ticket would be best able to do that (partisan voters aside).

judith ellis said...

Mark...It's good to have your perspective here.

I agree with many of your points. You have hit on one that perhaps strikes me as particularly relevant. While there is no way to determine if one is especially suited for any particular job, especially being the leader of the Free World, what we do not want is a neoyphte that the American people have not had a say in the choice. The people have chosen Barack.

Regarding executive experience, some are arguing that having a Gold rush-like office in the outskirts among the less populated states is not exactly the kind of executive experience needed for this job. (Imagine such a selection for a CEO position at a Walmart, Exxon, GM? It ain't happening.) But in a democracy the people decide. The problem here is that the people do not have a say in this decision.

In my view, we should be looking at John McCain's lack of judgement more than Palin, although, I think it is most important to determine who she is in order to better see what kind of president both she and McCain would be. What kind of complementary role does Palin play besides the hot new sexy one?