“She comes high but she’s worth it…”-Douglas Fowley, “Armored Car Robbery” (1950)
Will America one day join 14 other countries-including Australia, Germany, India, Ireland and Liberia-currently headed by an elected female president? If Hillary Clinton were to challenge Barack Hussein Obama in 2012, it could come sooner rather than later.
Conventional political wisdom is that it’s only a matter of time. This is fine with me and extra fine with my wife, who became giddy when we discussed the prospect. Political parties aside, my only concern is that the woman is tough, smart and knowledgeable-and won’t need multiple teleprompters when speaking in public.
On the other hand, my wife strongly prefers a Democrat, such as Clinton, holding the highest office in the land. But when we do finally get a woman in the Oval Office-Democrat, Republican or Independent-just who might that be?
At this point, the most likely possibilities down the road are Secretary of State Clinton and two Republicans-ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a current candidate. A few years ago, Condoleezza Rice may have been included. She was secretary of state and national security adviser under President George W. Bush.
Over the years, a number of women have sought the nomination of major parties or have actually run for president. Among Democrats, U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York was the first notable Black female candidate, and Rep. Patsy Mink of Hawaii was the first Asian-American to seek the party’s nomination. Both Chisholm and Mink ran in 1972. Rep. Patricia Schroeder of Colorado ran in 1988.
In 2004, U.S. Sen. Carol Mosley Braun of Illinois-another Black woman-sought the Democratic nomination. Unfortunately, it went to Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, whose brain-dead campaign led to an ignominious defeat at the hands of brain-dead Bush.
Clinton, of course, ran in 2008 and was an overwhelming, early favorite to capture the Democratic nomination. But owing to overconfidence and questionable strategy, she was edged-out by Obama-despite soundly beating him in most of the last dozen primaries.
Past Republican presidential candidates include Maine Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (1964) and Sen. Elizabeth Dole of Kansas (2000). In 2008, the relatively unknown Palin was Arizona Sen. John McCain’s surprising, controversial vice presidential running mate.
Among Independents, firebrand New York activist Lenora Fulani, ran for president in 1988 and 1992 for the New Alliance Party. In 1988, she was the first woman and first Black person to qualify for federal matching funds and make the ballot in all 50 states.
In 1984, Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-N.Y.) preceded Palin as the first female vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket with Minnesota Sen. Walter Mondale in a losing effort to the incumbents-President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush.
Everyone knows Clinton-who turns 64 next week-wants to be president and is still young enough. While she did well against Obama in the candidate debates, the operative question is whether she’d dare oppose her party’s incumbent president in 2012 primaries.
If Clinton waits until 2016 and wins the nomination, she’d have to face a strong GOP candidate such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan or current candidate Herman Cain. On the other hand, beating a sitting president-as she would have to do in 2012-is a formidable task
After Clinton, the controversial Palin, 47, who recently declared she would not run in 2012, once seemed a certain candidate. In 2008, Palin surpassed Clinton as America’s leading female politician. And McCain’s risky pick of her as his running mate polled 10 points higher than Obama’s choice of gaffe-prone Delaware Sen. Joe Biden.
Palin’s undeniable personal appeal and star power attracted 70 million TV viewers to her Oct. 2, 2008 debate with Biden-second only to the 80 million who saw Reagan and Jimmy Carter spar 28 years earlier. And it exceeded the number watching any of the three, mostly boring presidential debates between Obama and McCain.
Notwithstanding bad advice and tepid support by McCain’s campaign staff and disastrous TV interviews with ABC’s Charlie Gibson and CBS’s Katie Couric, the charismatic Palin is a favorite of the Republicans’ powerful Tea Party faction. And her popularity hasn’t waned despite vicious news coverage of her family’s personal problems.
The 55-year-old Bachmann is a tax lawyer and Iowa native who won that state’s important Ames Straw Poll in August. She’s attractive, smart, experienced, fast on her feet and has positioned herself well in GOP candidate debates. Her compelling personal story includes giving birth to five biological children and raising 23 foster children.
Finally, there is Rice, 56-touted by Dick Morris, former Bill Clinton guru and pollster, in his 2005 book “Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race.” Although that scenario didn’t pan out, one of his thoughts was intriguing. To wit:
“I think the public will increasingly realize that the only way to beat a woman is with a woman. And the only way to beat the Democratic Party is to take away the African-American vote. And every single Black mother is going say to herself that my baby will know there is no ceiling if this woman [Rice] is elected.”
Bottom line: Since Rice is no longer a player, millions of women-including my wife-would love a 2016 tussle for president pitting Democrat Hillary Clinton vs. Republicans Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann. And that’s the name of that tune.