by The Other Katherine Harris
The Other Katherine Harris’s blog
Dec. 31, 2007
Sure, it’s good to see a woman taken seriously as a presidential candidate and the situation is long overdue, compared to more than a few other countries. As a woman, I’d love to see someone of my gender leading the nation, but she should be the right person, at the right time, don’t you think? I believe we’re off on both counts.
Let’s first consider the timing.
Most likely we can agree, based on personal experience, that a female boss isn’t necessarily an unalloyed blessing — especially in troubled circumstances that seldom bring out the best in anyone who has to redefine a role of authority.
The potential for over-reaction is plain. Say cutbacks are in order; who’s apt to slash more ruthlessly, a good old boy secure in his job for years or the new gal out to prove herself? Say a rival is becoming a greater threat; who’ll tend to keep this in perspective, instead of being tempted or goaded into trying something extreme that could bite back?
Being extra-tough, I read yesterday, was named as her greatest regret by the late Benazir Bhutto, when reflecting on her years as PM in Pakistan. Assuming Maggie Thatcher capable of sincere self-examination and regret (quite a stretch), we’d expect her to confess the same, wouldn’t we?
Beyond that, there’s also clear potential for ducking responsibility and for sucking-up. Say current numbers look bad; who’ll probably try harder to fudge this and that? Say a grave mistake was made; who’s more likely to insist on being right, instead of admitting the error quickly, without embellishment, and going another way? Or say lots of big changes are vital; who’s more likely to placate the most powerful opponents, rather than press for the whole package?
Of course these concerns would apply equally to a man who, for whatever reasons, felt insecure at his helm. But ANY woman in a position never before held by a woman — particularly in rough times like these — is bound to trim her sails to suit the wind, to keep from seeming weak and in hope of dodging other criticisms.
Now let’s consider the person aspiring to greater power than a woman has held since Elizabeth Tudor controlled most of the known world. Liz I actually made a good job of it. She had two exceptional things going for her, though. One, the Brits knew they were stuck with her for life and got with the program. Two, she never married, which detached her from the factional favorites game (not to mention any debate about who had the final word).
It’s hardly worth repeating that the faction Hillary Clinton represents is the DLC wing of the party. So did her husband, who happily gave us NAFTA, GATT, PNTR for China, welfare “reform” and even media conglomeration. If you’re thinking of supporting her (or Obama, the other Dem reaping vast corporate largesse), you must think that’s okay. Perhaps you share their expressed hope that, this time around, the lions of commerce and reactionary politics will decide to stop eating us lambs and play nicely.
The lions are going to have to cede some ground, because they’ve robbed the rest of us far too outrageously for too long. Moreover, the present healthcare setup is harming business and they need to get employers out of the loop. So we can expect a few crumbs to be thrown, in any event, but imagine the concessions they’ll self-righteously demand in exchange for their slightest semblance of cooperation (even if the result behooves them)!
Somehow I can’t picture Hillary saying, “Universal healthcare is simple justice that should have been done long ago. You’ve been getting away with murder. So now let’s talk about putting corporate taxation back where it belongs. And bringing back American jobs. And about those silly oil subsidies. And about this insane overspending on defense.”
Not going to happen. Despite corporatists’ having had their way on everything for 30 years.
Even placing her in that scenario calls for leap-frogging the election season, during which she (or any Democratic nominee) will be mauled. She claims she can weather that assault better than anybody else and win. Do you think so? Really?
I don’t doubt that she has sufficient ambition to suffer slings and arrows (or that Obama does, and together they’re sure to be the DLC-preferred ticket) but, when the greater mission is so thin to begin with — “geez, we only want to sit down with you guys and work out something we can all live with” — what passion will be stirred on the left or among worried Independents looking for meaningful change?
Can you get revved about wanting things to be just a little better, when they’re this bloody bad? I’m afraid the zeal would rise only on the far-right, among confirmed Hillary-haters and those who simply wouldn’t vote for a woman and/or a black man.
The very existence of Bill throws another spanner into the works. For everyone who loves him, someone else loathes him — and again, like it or not, we get into murky “twofer” territory. Precisely this set people hating Hillary, to begin with! First Ladies are normally respected, regardless of their spouses’ politics and poll numbers, but it doesn’t work that way when one strides into the arena, unelected but grabbing power with both fists.
To my mind, our first female president — whatever her views and policies — should be a person who gained prominence on her own. Otherwise, what does it honestly say about what women in this country can do?