The First Female President: The Fantasy and the Reality

by Carey Roberts    –show me more like this

Last Tuesday the first female president took office, courtesy of ABC’s latest series, Commander in Chief. In the first show, vice president Mackenzie Allen takes over the Oval Office when the president suddenly dies from an aneurysm – but not before confiding to Allen that she had been put on the ticket as a political stunt to get him elected.

While TV viewers were treated to the fantasy of a female president on Tuesday night, American voters saw the reality of female politicians when they woke up the next morning. That’s when Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco appeared before a Senate panel investigating the Katrina disaster.

The day before, former FEMA head Michael Brown, in his appearance before the panel, charged that Blanco had failed to order a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, contributing to the overall breakdown of law and order.

But when Blanco waltzed into town on Wednesday, she requested chivalrous lawmakers to not ask any embarrassing questions. Instead of being treated like any other accountable public official, she was feted like royalty. That’s a double standard in my book.

It turns out the sharpest critics of female politicians are women themselves.

Columnist Carol Platt Liebau recently hit on governor Blanco’s lachrymose response to Katrina, acknowledging “a visceral concern on the part of many voters about the way that a female President would act under pressure or in a crisis.” []

Then Liebau took senator Dianne Feinstein to task for her outrageous conduct during the hearings for Supreme Court candidate John Roberts. Before casting her vote, she applauded Roberts for his “brilliant legal mind.” But Feinstein ended up voting against Roberts because when she asked him talk to her “as a son, a husband, a father,” he “gave a very detached response.”

So let me get this right: here’s the preening third-term senator from California who is dinging the future Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for an answer she deemed was too logical and thoughtful. To paraphrase Brad Paisley’s current hit song, “What was she thinking?”

Next is the problem of female politicians being out of step with the electorate. During last week’s final vote on Judge Roberts, only 22% of the Senators voted “nay.” But six of the 14 female senators – nearly half — opposed his nomination: Barbara Boxer, Maria Cantwell, Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Mikulski, and Debbie Stabenow. Appears the female senators far more liberal than the overall Senate.

Then there’s the truth-in-packaging issue. Some female politicians project an altar-girl image of enlightened centrism, all the while lobbying behind the scenes for radical leftist legislation.

Take Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow. Widely viewed as a political moderate, it turns out her voting record ranks her up there with leftist die-hards like Edward Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry.

Americans have other doubts about female politicians, concerns that have nothing to do with sexism.

Many female politicians view issues through the rose-colored lens of personal relationships and gender. Carol Platt Liebau describes the concern as “the stereotype that women’s decision-making is more often based on personal experience than on rational analysis,” a perception that Dianne Feinstein’s recent grandstanding did little to dispel.

Another example: men lag behind women on almost every indicator of health status. But this past week senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland issued a press release that proudly announced, “Mikulski Fights for Women’s Health Care with Federal Funding for Research, Treatment.” []

Why isn’t Mikulski also fighting for men’s health? Are men political lepers whose health is simply unworthy of mention?

The rap on female politicians actually runs much deeper than their stance on specific pieces of legislation. Hold on to your hat while you read this scorching blast from Devvy Kidd: “The feminization of Congress and our state legislatures is destroying constitutional government, running America into oceans of unpayable debt and breeding generations of helpless women, whining for mother government to take care of them and their every need.” []

Now how’s that for political incorrectness?

Finally there’s the Hillary question. Well, on second thought, that one will have to wait for later.

There’s no inherent reason why a woman can’t serve as our chief of state. Indeed, Margaret Thatcher comes to mind as a courageous woman who turned around a failing British economy.

But look at the current top tier of American female politicians. There isn’t a single one in the bunch who comes close to qualifying for the US presidency by virtue of her experience, temperament, and proven commitment to serving the needs of all Americans.

That’s the sad reality.