I know, I know, the body of the November 6th General election is still warm and it’s insensitive to brush it aside and look to 2016. But that’s exactly what I’m going to do without apology. I’m going to take a close look at the next Presidential Election and assess the players and the poseurs. Yes, the election is 4 years distant, but remember, Mitt campaigned for the better part of 6 years.
In this narrative I’m going to closely examine two potential female candidates. The Boy’s Club has finally recognized that women belong in the upper reaches of governance. Once regarded as simply housekeepers, baby machines and underpaid serfs to fetch coffee for M’Lord, the ladies have risen to important and vital positions in government, heading numerous cabinet posts and agencies but, alas, even as a majority of the population, women are still embarrassingly absent from the one post that counts…the Presidency.
India, Israel, United Kingdom, Germany, Philippines, Argentina, Latvia, Haiti and Costa Rica are among dozens of nations that are currently headed or have been led by female Presidents, Prime Ministers and Chancellors. I’m not even including the Monarchy. And don’t laugh if someone tells you Costa Rica is led by a Chinchilla. It’s true. Her first name is Laura. So the Indira’s, Golda’s, Corazon’s, Eva’s, Angela’s and Margaret’s (Maggie to her friends like the late Ronald Reagan), have been welcomed to the leadership pinnacles of government in a great number of enlightened nations. The U.S. at this point remains in the shadows.
This shouldn’t be surprising if Augusta National Golf Club is any indication. It fought off female membership for nearly 80 years. With a one-time Chairman named ‘Hootie’, what would you expect? Finally, Condoleezza Rice and Billionaire, Darla Moore, were invited to recline on the finest of aniline leather chairs and couches and tour the club’s famous golf course, home of the venerated Master’s Golf Tournament.
All of which finally brings me to the Presidential Election, 2016. There’s going to be a woman on the ticket. Condoleezza Rice is the obvious choice for the Republicans. She’s whip smart and highly eclectic in her accomplishments. She’s probably one of the few people you’ll ever know who can land a triple axel on a frozen pond, then go sit at the piano in her glittering little skirt and knock off a flawless Prelude in D flat major. Did I mention that she speaks French, Russian and Spanish?
Two additional elements certainly won’t hurt her with the right-wing male vote. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon observed that during a meeting with then Secretary of State Rice, he was having trouble concentrating on the conversation because “she has such nice legs.” I’m glad Sharon enjoyed the moment. Since early 2006, he’s been in a post-stroke vegetative state.
What really endears Rice to the Republican Power-archy is her ability to lie skillfully under pressure. At a House Committee hearing, she parried with then- Florida Representative, Robert Wexler over the issue of our entrance into Iraq. She knew damned well there were no WMD’s in Iraq while hawking the war theme to anyone who would listen, or, as Wexler put it; “You were pumping up the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction…” Without missing a beat, Rice launched into a defensive tirade that included “I did not at any time make a statement that I knew to be false.” She continued to parse with “we have learned that many intelligence assessments were wrong.” We have learned? The Center for Public Integrity dug up 56 public Rice lies in drawing our country into the Iraq war. Wexler pressed her on her failure to bring up a number of reports that countered the administration WMD argument, but Rice stuck to her guns and simply said she didn’t know the intelligence, insisting that Iraq was laden with WMD’s, was wrong.
Add the fact that Rice once sat on the Chevron board and was born in Birmingham, Alabama and you have the perfect minority Presidential candidate. Well, almost perfect. Fibbing aside, its doubtful racial bigots would tolerate two black Presidents in a row. Why, they might even threaten to secede. After Rice, I don’t see much of a Republican distaff field to choose from. The foolish political burlesque of Palin and Bachmann has run its course, though Bachmann did retain her platform in the House. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are quality ladies, but neither would have the patience or the inclination to hang with the Tea Party crowd that will still be around, albeit in diminished numbers, in 2016. If Rice declines to run, the GOP will start collecting binders of lady governors.
That leaves the Democrats and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Is she stepping down in early 2013 to kick-start a Presidential campaign or to, as she described it to the NY Times, sleep, exercise and travel for fun? Is traveling to dozens of states fun? Her CV certainly rivals that of Rice; First Lady, Yale law, Senator, Secretary of State, one-time seeker of the Presidency. Obama’s judicious mastery of the Caucus states gave him a substantial lead over Hillary before she dropped out of the 2008 primary battle for the Democratic Presidential nomination. There was almost a differential of 1,400 delegates favoring Obama where 2,117 delegates get you the nod at the convention. HOWEVER – Hillary made a very strong showing in the most populous states. With the exception of a Texas split, all of the biggies rested in the Clinton column. Interesting, considering Obama’s overwhelming urban showing in 2012. Pro-Obama Democrats still fondly remember Hillary’s gracious “nomination by acclamation” gesture at the Denver convention.
Clinton volunteers are every bit as committed as those of Barack Obama. She could beat anybody the Republicans could offer. That makes a statement uttered by relatively unknown Democrat, Billy Webster, at the most recent local Democratic Party luncheon I attended, all the more surprising. Webster knows the Clinton’s very well. As Chief of Staff for then-Education Secretary, Richard Riley, Webster was a key cog in the Clinton transition machine. He’s a pal of both Bill and Hillary and I take what he said seriously. “Hillary Clinton will not run in 2016.” This is a person who is much more in the know than a TV or print pundit. Webster did not elaborate except to add another shocker; Mark Warner will be the Democratic candidate.
So, what would keep Hillary from America’s biggest prize? Age? Maybe; Hillary will be 69 in 2016. Of course, New Jersey Senator, Frank Lautenberg is still going strong at 88. She may sincerely want to sleep, exercise and travel for fun. Money is certainly not a problem. Bill and Hillary are worth well north of $100 million. Billy Webster could be right about Hillary. The announced post-Secretary of State pursuits sure beat working like a dog only to be ground zero for daily wing-nut hatefests.