It’s happening – the promised awakening that resulted from the misogyny directed at both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin during the election of 2008. Women are realizing that they are a force to be reckoned with, and that their power lies in standing strong to support other women.
Just look at Barack Obama’s executive order, signed on March 11, which created a White House Council on Women and Girls. Many Presidents have had similar councils, including Presidents Clinton, Kennedy and Roosevelt. This council was not part of the President’s original plans; but womens’ groups have been lobbying him to make this happen for several months. And lo and behold, it did!
Do I think that a lot of good will be done by this council? I have to say, I’m not too optimistic, considering that the person who’s leading it is Valerie Jarrett, whose only qualifications appear to be her long friendship with the President. Putting her in charge is similar to putting Dick Cheney in charge of the White House Committee on Terrorism, which had not one single meeting prior to 9/11. And although WomenCount and other organizations wanted the Council to be a Cabinet-level organization, it isn’t.
But in a way, it really doesn’t matter. What is key here is that Obama felt pressured into doing something, even if it appears to be more of a token gesture at this point. And why? Because women are flexing their political muscles, and doesn’t it feel good?
Besides which, there is no telling what will happen once Ms. Jarrett gets in a room with other women. I believe that every woman has a deep, undeniable connection with every other woman, which our patriarchal society does its best to suppress. But let’s face it: when a woman looks at another woman, she KNOWS that woman. On a basic level, that woman has gone through the same things she has; has suffered and triumphed over the same things, whether they be physical or emotional: menstruation, which can be horrible for many women; first love; losing her virginity; facing up to sexism at home, at school, and at work. That awareness is in Valerie Jarrett, too; although it would have been much better if she had been a true believer like Eleanor Roosevelt, President Kennedy’s choice to head up his council, there is no telling what she could become.
And speaking of becoming, it looks like Hillary Clinton might still become President someday. Seems she may have kept her political future alive by accepting the Secretary of State position.
When she agreed to serve as Barack Obama’s secretary of state, there was some question about what it would mean for Hillary Clinton’s political future – and more specifically, if she’d even have one.
Outside of the early days of the republic, secretaries of state do not have a track record of advancing to the presidency, or to any other prestigious elected posts. And they often don’t even last for a full presidential term, let alone two, meaning that Clinton risked finding herself out of a job – and without the public relevancy of a Senate seat to fall back on – long before the Democratic presidential nomination next comes open, presumably in 2016.
It seemed unfathomable that the ambitious Clinton, far too young (61) to be excluded from ’16 conversations, would do anything that might seriously jeopardize the possibility of running for president again some day, but already, less than two months after taking her new job, the logic behind Clinton’s move is coming into focus: A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week found that 59 percent of voters now have a favorable opinion of Clinton, with only 22 percent viewing her unfavorably – “an all-time high” for her, as the newspaper put it.
The article is entitled “Hillary 2016!”, but I say, “Hillary 2012!” I think assuming that Obama will be President for the next eight years is taking a little too much for granted. And should Our Girl indeed run in 2012, I have the perfect opponent for Hillary: Governor Sarah Palin!
If the Republican Party gets a grip and realizes that their love affair with Bobby Jindal is not reciprocated by the base of their constituents, they will realize that Governor Palin is the only candidate they have that has generated any excitement whatsoever in many years. She is, quite frankly, their only shot in 2012. If they take it, and if Obama implodes the way I think he will, then we may just have two strong, powerful and charismatic women running for President.
Before the Great Awakening of 2008, this scenario would not have been possible. But now, we’re seriously considering a truly historic election – two women, representing both major parties. What would that race look like? Would there be fewer dirty tricks, more focus on the issues? Would the media try to destroy them both, or pick one over the other, or would bloviating misogynists like Keith Olbermann simply shut down, like the robots on Star Trek (the original) whose logic circuits were blown by an unacceptable paradigm?
Who knows what the future may bring, in these uncertain economic times, and with threats from abroad seeming to multiply every day? But one thing I believe is certain:
Women will no longer be denied.
And that’s a really, really good thing.