If Not Hillary, Who?

April 28, 2008

Wish I had that proverbial crystal ball, so I could find out which woman will be the first to actually run the White House, not just be there as support staff. Is Hillary the one? When I started my own unofficial straw poll, the pro or con reactions to Senator Clinton were instant and intense; people certainly are feeling strongly on the subject, no matter which side they support.

I then asked a few “sage pundits” to name some other women who might stand a chance of winning the U.S. presidency. I originally thought to list all the suggestions here, but I ended up doing a bit of research on each woman instead. By the time I read about the actions they had taken and how they voted on issues, who their major financial backers were and what others thought of them, I realized that most of these women would elicit the same kind of reaction Clinton is getting — lots of pros and cons and not one clear front-runner.

So what characteristics, background, beliefs, and public record does a woman need today to get elected to the presidency? If the past is anything to go by, having good or bad traits in any of these areas doesn’t necessarily predict success in electability or in job performance if elected. And I’m sure that’s just as true for women as it is for men.

Whoever they may be, all women still have to overcome the public’s apparent continued reticence to seeing women as capable leaders. (Take a moment to read the April 6 New York Times article Our Racist, Sexist Selves, by Nicholas D. Kristof, on this subject.)

Just because my crystal ball isn’t working doesn’t mean you may not know of a woman who might just be the one to break the gender barrier — if not in 2008, then sometime in the future. Let us know!

By:   |   April 28, 2008


  1. Maryland Steve says:

    Let’s put Kathleen Sibelius on the Dem ticket as VP. She’s a great governor, she’s hot, she’s a woman (sorry Hillary), and she’s smart as a whip.

    Obama ’08!

  2. Jeri says:

    If not Hillary, any woman.

    At some point in this extraordinary campaign season, Hillary’s gender failed to be an issue. Would she end the war in Iraq? Could she repair our failing economy? Will all Americans have health care? Those were the questions being asked. The question about whether or not a woman could handle the job–or if people would vote for a woman faded along the way.

    I think Hillary Clinton’s campaign put to rest the humiliating, cringe evoking, condescending question about whether or not a woman can handle the job. Thousands of voters in this campaign think she can. If she can, any woman candidate with the right credentials can.

  3. Joan says:

    What about Condy Rice. She is a good diplomat. She conducts herself extremely well, and has experience in the art of international relations, negotiating alliances, and agreements for the U.S.

    Number one: An individual who can excerise a determining influence on the affairs of the country, must be well liked.
    Number two: To exercise political authority, the person must be well liked.
    Number three: To initiate policies or processes that meet global acceptance as well as, America’s interest requires an individual who is highly intelligent, and again well-liked.
    Number four: The U.S. needs a good debater because if the congress had debated longer and considered the long term risks, would we be in Iraq today? And to move more troops to Afghanistan will just create another failed state like Iraq.

    The U.S. has an 104 acre complex in Iraq, where it has just completed building the largest U.S. Embassy ever conceived. The cost to run the facility is $1 billion a year. It was to be completed in Sept. but had overruns in time and dollars.

    The three candidates; Obama is the most intelligent, while McCain has the ear of congress and military, while Hilliary goes along with whatever the most popular position is.

  4. Kathleen says:

    You ask about a capable woman experienced in running a government — better look at Kathleen Sibelius, governor of Kansas. There is also a new generation of women in Congress like first-termer Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota who was the successful County Attorney in Minneapolis — running a large urban government entity.

  5. Sue says:

    this election cycle has convinced me that this country is still racially biased and sexist. sigh. what troubles me besides seeing a really good shot for a republican to be president – is that none of the three candidates have any real experience in ‘governing’. all three are elected officials; but none have had the responsibility of running a government. I believe that a woman’s best shot would be one who has already successfully governed. Now – why can’t I think of one (without google?)

  6. kathryn says:

    Before Clinton was ever even on scene as a viable candidate, I always thought that our first woman president would be conservative, like Margaret Thatcher was as the first woman prime minister in England.

    There is a strong field of women out there in the Republican Party– but would republicans be any better than democrats at getting over sexism?

  7. karen says:

    We would like to eliminate whether we like or dislike someone and go with how capable they are and whether what they propose has a chance of being implemented. It is easy to cop out and say whomever is elected has to get congress to buy into their plans but bottom line is twofold.

    The winner has to be able to provide a positive global identity and also be capable with domestic agenda. I do not know of a woman at this time other than Hillary who might be able to handle both. On the other hand, without global identity, could Obama with a good support team and his good speaking abilities enhance America’s image?

    We still have some time to assess the current choices. I worry about continued economic drain due to our overseas committments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but I also see how difficult it will be to exit. There are no easy fixes domestically; but it is all pie in the sky until we have the Democratic candidate in place. At this point, Hillary seems the better choice globally and domestically but as a small business owner, I am concerned about spending and who will pay for the programs we need for our citizens so I do not know which way I will vote except choice is important to me and while it is only one part of the whole picture, I wish the platform of the Republican Party could change.

  8. Leah says:

    There are many things about the upcoming election that worry me. Having a Republican win is the first. Who the Democratic candidate will be is the second. I’m not thrilled with either Clinton or Obama. I do think that women candidates, especially those running for a high office, still have it rougher than men. If the woman shows strength and toughness, they are seen as cold and uncaring (as the NY Times article pointed out). If they don’t show these traits, they are seen as weak or incapable of leading. The thing that bothers me the most about Clinton is that she appears to assume that she is somehow entitled to win, and that being First Lady for eight years counts as the kind of experience that can be applied to being president. I think a woman who didn’t have her particular baggage would have a better chance of winning. I don’t know who that is, or if the country is ready for a woman president. I don’t know if either Obama or Clinton is ready to lead, but either has got to be better than our current president (and he had “experience”…look where that got us). It’s all made more difficult by the fact that we have two historic candidates at the same time.

  9. Jeannette says:

    I read your blog tonight and honestly have no idea what woman in her right mind would even consider running for President today, let alone be electable. When I think about the struggles of our great grandmothers and the generations before them I feel a bit like we would be a disappointment to them. They were at least mindful of future generations and hopeful they would have a better life. Our culture has always had a sense of “power”, those appearing to be the strongest, get to wield it and in many positions, that has been a man. The NY Times article you referenced, while gave faint hope of overcoming gender equity, really portrays a society not yet ready to accept a woman President. Would I be proven wrong!

  10. Leslie says:

    It’s interesting…I have unabashedly liberal friends (women) who would chew glass before they would vote for Hillary Clinton, yet when I ask them why, they can only explain it away as a visceral reaction. And women seem to have the most knee-jerk reactions to her, which I can’t explain. My husband, on the other hand, who has never been a huge Hillary fan, has changed his mind over the last eight months, and is now complimentary and supportive of her. Go figure…

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