Copyright © 1999 Henrietta W. Hay
Yes, a Woman President
February 17, 1999
The year long Washington circus is over. The elephants and donkeys and
blood-thirsty tigers and the clowns have folded their tents and faded
away for a week or so. At least I and 266,476,277 other Americans
fervently hope so -- give or take a few.
Now it's time for a woman president. The guys have really messed things
up and we need a change. I have given serious thought to Snow White for
president. Her purity is unchallenged, although she does live with
seven men. Maybe we could put them in Congress. If Snow White is
unavailable, there are other alternatives.
Last fall over 100,000 Americans participated in a straw poll to select
women who are qualified to hold the highest office. The White House
Project a non-profit, non-partisan
organization is committed to raising awareness of women's leadership in
American politics and mobilizing women to participate in civic life.
Twenty women were selected on the basis of their character, vision,
leadership skills and accomplishments, and citizens across the country
turned out in huge numbers to vote for their favorite five.
The results of the poll were announced last week and the five top vote
recipients are (alphabetically, lest I be accused of bias) First Lady
Hillary Rodham Clinton, former American Red Cross president Elizabeth
Hansford Dole, California Senator Dianne Feinstein, Army General
Claudia Kennedy and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. The two
runners up were Ann Fudge, President of Maxwell House Coffee and Mae
Jemison, physician, engineer, professor and former astronaut.
The poll was non partisan, but the balance is interesting. Two of the
five are Democrats, two are Republicans and the fifth is in the Army and
her party affiliation, if any, is not public knowledge.
For those who still say, "No woman is capable of being president," I
would like to put the qualifications of those seven women up against any
seven men who are thinking of tossing their hats into the ring in 2000.
Currently women comprise 52 percent of the U. S. population, but make up
only 9 percent of U. S. senators, 13 percent of U. S. representatives,
and 6 percent of the nation's governors. Women are an untapped national
resource in American politics.
There are problems with having a woman President. What would we do
with the First Gentleman? Excuse me; now that it is a vague
possibility, the term has become First Spouse. A male First Spouse, of
course, would be allowed to pursue his own career without criticism.
Figures! Men married to these strong women do not fit the mold of
gazing adoringly and purchasing china for the state dining room.
Although some 76 percent of Americans have said they would vote for a
woman, we don't know what they would do in the voting booth. We live
in a country where there is still a vicious political battle over
women's rights to control their own reproductive lives, where women
still earn about 75 percent of what men make, where only about 5 percent
of corporate C.E.O.'s are female and where a major religious
denomination recently decreed that a woman should submit herself
graciously to her husband's leadership. It is not exactly a wide open
But the times they are a'changin' -- slowly. Barbara Lee, one of the
donors to the project commented that, "In the past women have been
judged on the Three H's; hair, husband and hemlines. If one woman runs
for office she is judged by the Three H's; if two women run they're
considered by the press to be in a cat fight; but when three run the
scrutiny of them as women diminishes and they are viewed as capable
people and are looked at through their accomplishments."
I am still resolved to live until we see a woman president, but I may be
pretty old by then. There is very little chance that it will happen in
2000, but there is hope for 2004 or 2008. Whoever that first woman is,
and whichever party she belongs to, she will be a strong, capable,
intelligent and politically experienced woman.
I can't imagine why she would want to be president, considering what
lies ahead for her, but power to her. Madame President. Sounds good.